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What are Pennsylvania Traffic Tickets?

Pennsylvania traffic tickets are official notices issued to motorists following a traffic violation. Tickets typically feature information regarding the offense as well as details of its severity and the consequent penalties. In Pennsylvania, it is the responsibility of law enforcement officials to issue these notices. However, all driving-related records are maintained and disseminated by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Interested persons may view or resolve their traffic tickets by querying the department or local traffic courts within their jurisdiction.

Records that are considered public may also be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the document or person involved

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What Does a Traffic Citation Mean?

A traffic citation is an official court summons indicating that the recipient has violated road-traffic laws. While the terms “ticket” and “citation” are used interchangeably in discussions regarding traffic law and violations, a traffic citation typically requires that the motorist appears in a traffic court. In contrast, offending motorists may resolve their ticket by paying a stipulated fine.

How Do I Pay a Traffic Ticket in Pennsylvania?

Upon receiving a ticket, Pennsylvania state motorists must pay the amount indicated on the notice within ten (10) days. Since it is the traffic court’s responsibility in the judicial district to hear traffic cases, tickets must be paid to the appropriate magisterial district court in person, online, or via mail. In selected cases, offenders may be allowed to pay the allocated amount in convenient installments.

However, it is worthy of note that choosing to pay a traffic ticket is an inadvertent admission of guilt. As such, the decision to pay a ticket may attract additional penalties, including the addition of points to the offender’s driving record, which often translates to increased auto insurance rates. Offenders may opt not to pay the traffic ticket, and instead contest the ticket in court or plead not guilty to the charges (if the traffic ticket is a citation).

Can You Pay Pennsylvania Traffic Tickets Online?

Yes, Pennsylvania traffic tickets can be paid online. Offenders may also respond to traffic citations/summons online or contest traffic tickets using the electronic systems operated by local traffic courts. Additionally, selected third-party service providers offer to resolve and respond to tickets of interested persons. Typically, this service is subscription-based, and users will be required to provide relevant information to find and pay the ticket. The details often needed to facilitate the search include:

  • The full name of the motorist
  • The birth information of the offender
  • The state/jurisdiction of residence of the offense and the location of the offense
  • License information of the motorist and their vehicle registration
  • The citation number of the ticket, and the DL number (where no citation number is available).

How do I Pay a Ticket online in Pennsylvania?

Ticket holders may pay their stipulated fines by making online payments using the PAePay tool. This tool is available on the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania web portal. However, only selected jurisdictions accept electronic payment for traffic tickets. Offenders who opt to pay via other methods may refer to the traffic ticket or citation for information regarding the relevant court. While making online payments, the payer or offender will be required to provide at least one of the following:

  • Citation Number for the court case
  • Payment Plan Number for the court case
  • Docket Number for the court case
  • Name of the person
  • Name of the organization/company

Users of the PAePay tool must note that the site only presents court-instituted financial obligations, which are payable online. The offender may have other outstanding fines with different courts within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Citations issued by local municipal law enforcement must be resolved within the local municipality.

Online payments can be made using credit and debit cards or by ATM card. Payments through the PAePay tool attract a non-refundable convenience fee of $2.75. However, the site does not process payments exexceeding $1,000, and once the USBank confirmation number has been issued, reversals are impossible.

What is the Pennsylvania Traffic Ticketing System?

Pennsylvania’s law enforcement officers operate the traffic ticketing, which is modeled after the federal driving point system. This system is used for determining the various penalties for different traffic violations, the amount that is indicated on the traffic ticket, and whether or not a motorist’s offense is severe enough for a license suspension.

Following Pennsylvania’s road traffic laws, as established by the state Department of Transportation, motorists who have accumulated 6 points or more on their driving record run the risk of losing their driver’s license.

Before accumulating these 6 points, the fines and penalties of a traffic violation vary greatly. For instance, motorists guilty of moving violations like speeding will be charged between $150 to $200. However, this amount may be higher if the offense occurs in a high-risk area like a construction or school zone. Typically, felonious traffic offenses attract fines of $500 to $100,000 depending on the severity and impact of the violation.

Motorists who get 6 points or more points for the first time must sit for an exam. If this requirement is not fulfilled, the motorist may face indefinite license suspension. However, persons who pass the exam will have 2 points deducted from their record.

Multi-time offenders are typically required to make a mandatory PennDOT appearance so that their licenses are not suspended. In addition to making the appearance, the offender’s license will be suspended for 15 days or less, during which time they sit for a behind-the-wheel exam.

How Do I Know if I Have a Traffic Ticket in Pennsylvania?

Usually, Pennsylvania state residents issued a ticket are sent a mail to that effect. However, persons who miss this mail may find out whether they have a traffic ticket by looking up their driving record, maintained by PennDOT.

The PennDot maintains various types of public records that can be made available to interested and eligible persons. The basic traffic record contains Pennsylvania state residents’ selected driving history and excludes accidents or violation history while full driving records have traffic violation and citation history. Record requests may be made to the PennDot in person, via mail or online.

To request driving records online, interested persons may visit the PennDot website and make their request on the Driver Record Printing Page. Requestors are usually required to provide the subject’s date of birth, Pennsylvania driver’s license number, and the last 4 four digits of their social security number.

Requestors must download and complete the Request for Driver Information form to request these records in-person or via mail. The completed application must be submitted to the local PennDOT office and the indicated fees and ID requirements.

How Can I Find a Lost Traffic Ticket in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, the UJSP operates the PAePAY platform, which can be used to find misplaced traffic tickets and citations. Alternatively, lost traffic tickets can be tracked through the presiding traffic court or magisterial district court in the jurisdiction where the ticket was issued.

In order to use the PAePAY tool, requestors must provide details of the ticket, such as the driver’s full name, a traffic citation number, and the court docket number.

Requests made to the Magisterial District Court of the court where the ticket was issued may include the citation number and where the ticket was issued.

How Long Does a Traffic Ticket Stay on Your Record in Pennsylvania?

The amount of time a ticket stays on the offender’s record primarily depends on the nature and severity of the offense committed. On average, speeding tickets in Pennsylvania remain on record for up to one year. However, the national average is three. Detailed information regarding this may be found on the PennDOT point system fact sheet or obtained by querying the local traffic court.

Is a Summons Worse Than a Ticket in Pennsylvania?

A court summons often requires that the requestor appears at a local traffic court, while tickets can only be resolved by only making a payment online, via mail, or in-person. Summons are usually issued to repeat offenders, especially when their offenses are within a short interval. Given that a summons often involves a court hearing, the penalties issued to the offender, in this case, will likely be more severe than the typical traffic ticket.

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