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How to Fight a Traffic Ticket in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, traffic tickets are issued by law enforcement officers to motorists or other road users who violate the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. Traffic tickets notify the offender of the nature of the offense and typically contain the penalty for the offense, which typically include a fine, a court appearance, and the available courses of action. Persons issued with traffic tickets may respond by paying or contesting the ticket. Paying the ticket is an admission of guilt; it can lead to points added on the offender's driving record and increased insurance premiums. Pennsylvania motorists may choose to plead 'not-guilty' or contest traffic tickets.

Persons who choose to contest a traffic ticket may need to appear in court to enter a 'not-guilty' plea. To efficiently navigate state laws and Pennsylvania Court processes, such persons may also require a traffic ticket lawyer's services. If the accused person is found guilty after a court hearing, the party will be required to pay all the fines due. A criminal conviction may also lead to a suspension of the offender's license, points added to the offender's record, or in some cases, jail time.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, 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 record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

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

Is it Worth it To Fight a Traffic Ticket in Pennsylvania?

In contemplating whether to fight a traffic ticket, Pennsylvania motorists must consider the traffic offense the party has been charged with and its potential effects on a driving record. Weighing the cost of contesting the ticket against paying a fine will help the person determine if fighting it is worthwhile. For example, if the traffic ticket was issued for a minor traffic violation, paying it may be a more uncomplicated course of action. However, in cases where an admission of guilt could lead to the addition of many points to the driver's record, a suspension of the driver's license, or jail time, contesting the ticket may be a more favorable option.

In deciding whether or not to contest a traffic ticket, motorists must also consider if it is possible to:

  • Legally prove that the ticket was issued unfairly
  • Present the proof in court in person, or if the services of a traffic ticket attorney will be required
  • Be available to make a court appearance at the necessary time

Ways to Fight a Traffic Ticket in Pennsylvania

Motorists must enter a 'not-guilty' plea within ten days of being issued to fight a Pennsylvania traffic ticket. Traffic tickets usually contain instructions on how to contest or enter a 'not-guilty' plea. Persons who choose to dispute the ticket may need to make an appearance in court to enter this plea. In Pennsylvania, traffic cases are heard in Magisterial District Courts, except in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In Philadelphia, cases are heard in the Municipal Court and Traffic Court. In Pittsburgh, traffic cases are heard in the Municipal Court and Parking Court.

After entering a plea, the defendant will be required to pay collateral, which is typically the sum of the traffic ticket fine and any other applicable court charges. If the defendant wins the case, the ticket fines will be fully refunded. When the plea is entered, the defendant will be assigned a date for a hearing or a pretrial conference. At this point, the defendant may choose to hire a traffic ticket attorney or represent themselves in court. If the individual cannot afford to hire an attorney, the court may provide one, especially if a guilty conviction in the case could lead to imprisonment.

At the hearing, the defendant may be able to have the charges dismissed if it is possible to present evidence that the ticket was unfairly issued or that no laws were broken. Dismissal requires an understanding of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code or the assistance of a traffic ticket attorney.

If the judge delivers a 'not guilty' verdict, charges against the defendant will be dropped, no points will be added to the individual's driving record, and the collateral fees will be refunded. However, being found guilty may result in fines, points added to the offender's driving record, suspension of the offender's driver's license, and even jail time.

Missing a court appearance may result in jail time, a suspension of the driver's license, and an automatic guilty judgment. Defendants who cannot make an appearance at the scheduled hearing may request a continuance at the appropriate court.

How to Fight a Traffic Ticket Without Going to Court

Some counties may allow motorists to contest traffic tickets by entering 'not guilty' pleas online. However, most counties require motorists to enter a plea in person at a courthouse. Each ticket issued contains specific information on how to pay or contest the ticket, including how to find the appropriate courthouse.

How do You Get a Traffic Ticket Reduced in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has fixed fines for traffic offenses. The fines are typically printed on traffic tickets. In some cases, especially where it is proven that the offender cannot afford to pay the fine at once, the court may allow them to pay in installments. Persons issued with traffic tickets may be able to reduce fines in exchange for a guilty plea. Such persons may continue to a hearing if the bargain is unsatisfactory.

Can you Get a Speeding Ticket Dismissed in Pennsylvania

The court can dismiss a speeding ticket if the defendant can prove that the ticket was unfairly issued or that there was no law violated at the time the ticket was issued. A speed ticket may also be dismissed if the defendant is found 'not guilty' by the court. Other instances where a speeding ticket may be dissolved in Pennsylvania include:

  • When the issuing law enforcement officer is absent at the court hearing
  • If the law enforcement officer measured the speed with faulty equipment or made a mistake
  • If there is incorrect information on the ticket

What Happens if You Plead Guilty to a Traffic Ticket in Pennsylvania

Pleading guilty to a traffic ticket in Pennsylvania may have different consequences, depending on the nature. However, with most traffic offenses in Pennsylvania, points are added to the driver's record. The severity of the offense determines the number of points added. Minor offenses add fewer points, while serious crimes add more points. For example, failure to yield to a pedestrian at a crosswalk adds two points to the driver's record, while failing to stop for a school bus with flashing red light adds five points.

Choosing not to contest a traffic ticket may also lead to the payment of fines, increased insurance premiums, and a suspension of the driver's license.

Persons who plead guilty to traffic tickets will be required to pay the stipulated fine. Pennsylvania motorists may pay online through PAYePAY, in person, or by phone. Instructions for payment should be printed on the ticket.

How to Find a Traffic Ticket Attorney in Pennsylvania

Traffic ticket attorneys provide legal aid to motorists who want to contest traffic tickets in court. These attorneys arrange plea bargains and represent motorists at traffic court hearings. Through the attorney's knowledge of the law and expertise, it may be possible to get a defendant's case dismissed, thereby avoiding fines and other collateral consequences. Interested persons may contact local law offices near the place where the traffic offense was collected to hire a traffic ticket lawyer. Third-party websites also provide lists of traffic ticket attorneys.

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