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What are Pennsylvania Traffic Court Records?

Pennsylvania traffic court records are documents pertaining to citations and traffic court proceedings within the state's jurisdiction. These records typically include details of violations and consequent tickets, actions taken during a court case, motions filed, and judgments delivered following a traffic case hearing.

While the Supreme, Superior, and Commonwealth courts of Pennsylvania are the state's principal appellate courts, traffic-related cases are the jurisdiction of the state's Magisterial District Courts. As such, the generation and dissemination of traffic court records is the responsibility of the court administrator of the Magisterial District Court in most judicial districts of Pennsylvania. Interested members of the public may access traffic court records by contacting the Magisterial District Judges of the various district courts or by using the online tools available on the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania web portal.

What is Included in a Pennsylvania Traffic Court Record?

Traffic court records are specialized documents detailing the judicial processes in Pennsylvania's traffic courts. Thus, while traffic records generally include all relevant driving information of an individual and are managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, traffic court records contain only information relating to a specific traffic violation and the consequent litigation. Essentially, traffic court records provide documentation of a violation, court proceedings, evidence, and sworn statements.

Traffic Violations in Pennsylvania

Traffic courts in Pennsylvania are dedicated exclusively to hearing traffic-related cases. Pennsylvania traffic violations and infractions include all crimes resulting from the violation of traffic laws by operators of various vehicles and road users. These violations include a wide range of acts primarily distinguished by the nature and severity of the damage caused. Customarily, Pennsylvania traffic violations may be either moving or non-moving offenses. However, some road traffic offenses may be designated as warning offenses or criminal/non-criminal violations. These designations depend primarily on the severity of the damage caused and the jurisdiction where the offense occurred.

  • Warning Violations

In some jurisdictions, law enforcement officers may choose to issue warnings instead of penalties for minor violations. This is usually the case if the said violation has not resulted in any significant damage or loss of life and/or property. However, there are jurisdictions where road traffic officials are not at liberty to exercise their discretion to this extent. Where this is the case, all traffic violations must be adequately penalized.

  • Moving and Non-moving Violations

All traffic violations are either moving or non-moving offenses.

In Pennsylvania, offenses involving immobile vehicles are considered non-moving violations. They are the least severe type of traffic offense and attract milder penalties than moving violations. Non-moving violations may include offenses relating to vehicle paperwork, parking violations, and incomplete or non-functional car components (e.g., lack of a spare tire or broken lights).

On the other hand, moving violations are considered infractions and may include a wide range of offenses against vehicle operators while in transit. They include all speed-related violations, DUIs, and DWIs, as well as a lack of driving license or operational insurance. Other moving violations include reckless driving and disobeying traffic laws and speed limits.

  • Criminal and Non-criminal Violations

Most traffic violations are considered criminal offenses unless the state labels them as civil violations. Criminal traffic violations often result in a loss of or damage to life and property and may be subcategorized into misdemeanor or felony violations, depending on the severity of the offense. Misdemeanors include DUIs and criminal speeding, while felony traffic violations include aggravated DUI/DWI and vehicular homicide.

On the other hand, non-criminal violations do not result in any immediate damages to life and property. They primarily include non-moving violations, which are also considered infractions. These include tailgating, ignoring traffic signs, and various mechanical issues such as non-functional taillights or turn signals.

Getting a Traffic Ticket in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania traffic tickets or citations are legal notices issued by law enforcement officials subsequent to a traffic violation. They may be hand-written or computer-generated and often contain relevant information regarding the offender and their vehicle, as well as details of the offender and frequency of the offense committed. Depending on the jurisdiction, tickets may also provide room for the plea of the offender which may be guilty or not guilty.

What to do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, traffic tickets may serve as notice of a penalty ascribed to a driver. These penalties may include points added to a driving record or a fine following the driver's disregard for road traffic laws. In cases where the traffic ticket serves as a summons, the recipient will be required to appear at the traffic court. However, where the alleged offender chooses to contest a penalty (such as the driving points or fine), they may request a contested hearing in the traffic court of the jurisdiction.

Responding to a Traffic Ticket/Citation

Recipients of a Pennsylvania traffic ticket/citation are typically required to respond within 10 days of the issuance or service of the document. The alleged offender may choose to pay any indicated fines, plead guilty/not guilty to the charges or contest the ticket in court (where the ticket is also a court summon).

How do I Pay a Traffic Ticket in Pennsylvania?

Choosing to pay a Pennsylvania traffic ticket may be considered an admission of guilt, potentially resulting in additional penalties. However, the impact can vary depending on the specific case and jurisdiction. However, it is considered a much easier alternative to pleading not guilty/contesting a ticket. The implication of paying a traffic ticket may include additional points on the driving record of the offender as well as a possible spike in auto insurance estimates given the offenders driving history.

Tickets may be paid in person, via mail or online. In some cases, traffic courts may permit installment payment(where necessary). Online payments may be made using the PAePay tool available on the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania web portal. However, not all Pennsylvania state county courts currently accept electronic payment.

For other payment methods, the offender may refer to their citation for details of the presiding court where payments should be made to. Queries relating to in-person and mail-in payments should be made directly to the courthouse.

How do I Request a Contested Hearing?

If a ticket is issued unfairly, the alleged offender may request a contested hearing by pleading not guilty to the citation. The presiding traffic court (indicated on the citation) must be notified of the offender's plea no more than 10 days after its issuance. Notifications may be made via mail, online or by phone.

What to Expect in Pennsylvania Traffic Court

While most traffic court proceedings are unique to each court, offenders are generally required to post collateral subsequent to making their plea. The collateral must be the equivalent cost of the ticket as well as any additional charges. If acquitted, this amount will be refunded to the alleged offender, and all charges will be dropped. However, if the court reaches a guilty verdict, the judge may include (along with any already stated fines) license suspension, driving record points, additional fines, or jail time. To this end, offenders are advised only to contest a ticket when there is sufficient legal proof to exonerate them or if paying the ticket is more detrimental than beneficial. Additional information regarding the process may be found on the UJSP webportal.

How to Prepare For Traffic Court

Motorists are advised to carefully read the citation they receive, noting the date, time, and location of the specified court appearance. They may then proceed to research the specific traffic law they've allegedly violated in Pennsylvania and familiarize themselves with the penalties and potential consequences.

To improve your chances in traffic court, any evidence that supports your case, such as photos, witness statements, or documents. For example, if you were issued a speeding ticket, gather evidence that might contradict the officer's claim, like traffic signs indicating a different speed limit or maintenance records for the speed detection equipment.

Depending on the severity of the charge and the circumstances surrounding the offense, consider hiring a traffic attorney to represent you in court. They can provide valuable legal guidance advocacy.

Where to Find Pennsylvania Traffic Court Records

The administrator of the presiding court generally manages Pennsylvania traffic court records. However, the UJS of the state provides a public access online option to access traffic court case information of all courts.

As traffic cases are the responsibility of the various judicial districts of the state, requests for traffic court records may be made to the appropriate magisterial district court in person or via mail. Detailed requests for these records may be made by completing the magisterial district court record request form. Most record requests require that the requestor provide adequate identification and make any required payment to cover search/copy expenses.

Alternatively, requestors may opt to access traffic court records online using the Public Web Docket Tool of the Magisterial District Courts. To use the tool, the requesting party will be required to furnish the search engine with information regarding the case such as the docket number of the file, the county and court office where the case was filed/heard.

Publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:

  • The name of someone involved, providing it is not a juvenile
  • The assumed location of the record in question, such as a city, county, or state name

Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.

How Do I Find My Traffic Citation History?

All information regarding the lifetime history of traffic tickets and citations of an individual is usually included in their driving record. Interested members of the public may view their traffic citation history by obtaining their full driving record from the state DMV (PennDOT) or by using any of the online case citation search tools managed independently by aggregation sites. However, the most recommended means of obtaining a traffic citation history is for the requestor to contact the presiding traffic court of the jurisdiction where they are resident.

How Do I Look Up My Pennsylvania Driving Record?

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is tasked with maintaining the driving records of all persons holding a Pennsylvania driver's license. The information in these records is pooled from various public sources, including law enforcement agencies and courthouses.

PennDOT is charged with processing requests for state driving records. Members of the public may obtain various kinds of driving records depending on their intended use. Requestors may request their basic driving record (which excludes accidents or violations), accident history, traffic violation information, or full driving history (which includes ticket/citation history).

Pennsylvania driving record requests may be made online, in person, or via mail. Online queries require the requestor to make their order using the PennDOT Driver Record Printing Page. To order a record, the requesting party must provide the subject's date of birth, Pennsylvania driver's license number, and the last four digits of their social security number. All requests are validated by the payment of the required fee, without which the order will not be processed.

Driving record requests may be made in person or by mail by completing the Request for Driver Information. The completed form, along with the indicated fees, must then be enclosed and delivered to the local PennDOT office.

How to Recover Lost Traffic Tickets in Pennsylvania

Interested members of the public may find misplaced traffic tickets and citations by using the UJSP's PAePAY or by contacting the presiding traffic court/magisterial district court of the required jurisdiction.

To access lost traffic tickets using the PAePAY tool, the requesting party will be required to provide a traffic citation number, court docket number, or the driver's first and last name. Alternatively, lost tickets may be obtained by contacting the Magisterial District Court of the court where the ticket was issued. This will also require information to facilitate ticket search. Thus, offenders are advised to memorize the citation number and place of the ticket as well as the name of the issuing officer and the violation for which they were charged.

Pennsylvania's Driving Record Point System

The state of Pennsylvania operates the federally implemented driving point system, which is used to determine penalties for various traffic violations. According to Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation, persons with 6 points or more on their driving record run the risk of losing their driver's license.

Upon getting 6 or more points for the first time, the offender will be required to take an exam within 30 days or face indefinite license suspension. People who pass the exam will have 2 points deducted from their record.

Second and third-time offenders will be required to make a mandatory PennDOT appearance or face immediate suspension. Upon making an appearance, the offender will likely be required to take and pass a behind-the-wheel exam (in addition to having their license suspended for a minimum of 15 days). People who pass the exam will also have 2 points deducted from their record. Offenders with 11 points and above will receive license suspensions of at least 5 days per 1 point.

Pennsylvania Traffic Court Records
  • Criminal Records
  • Arrests Records
  • Warrants
  • Driving Violations
  • Inmate Records
  • Felonies
  • Misdemeanors
  • Bankruptcies
  • Tax & Property Liens
  • Civil Judgements
  • Federal Dockets
  • Probate Records
  • Marriage Records
  • Divorce Records
  • Death Records
  • Property Records
  • Asset Records
  • Business Ownership
  • Professional Licenses
  • And More!