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What Are Traffic Violations And Infractions In Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, the state traffic laws regulate the use of the road network system. These laws border on the order and safety of the residents of the state. Generally, a breach in these laws by road users is termed a traffic offense.

Pennsylvania is one of the 46 member states participating in the U.S. Driver License Compact as defined under the state’s statute 75 Pa. C. S. A. Sec. 1581 et seq. It means that records of traffic offenses committed by a Pennsylvania driver in another member state are included in the offender’s data at the home state.

Pennsylvania traffic laws categorize offenses as minor, serious traffic and major offenses, in the order of rising degree of severity. The one with the most severe penalties is the major traffic offenses that carry penalties up to jail terms. Generally, the consequences for minor offenses are stiffer for a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holder than for a Non-Commercial Driver’s License holder.

What Are Felony Traffic Violations In Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, felony traffic violations are major offenses. All traffic offenses attract a baseline “disqualification” in Pennsylvania. Disqualification refers to the withdrawal of an individual’s rights to use a vehicle. This withdrawal may be temporary or permanent. Major offenses also attract fines and, in cases of fatality, jail terms based on Title 75, Consolidated Statutes of Pennsylvania.

Felonies are graded into first, second, and third-degrees in Pennsylvania. First degree offenses are subject to the most severe penalization:

  • First-degree felonies: up to 20 years in prison or $25,000 in fines, or both
  • Second-degree felonies: up to 10 years imprisonment or $25,000 fines, or both
  • Third-degree felonies: a maximum of seven years in prison or $15,000 fines, or both

Major traffic offenses that involve a first or second-degree murder will attract a life sentence. The number and severity of penalties increase with repeat offenses. This is especially true of D. U. I. (Driving Under Influence) offenses

Examples Of Felony Traffic Violations In Pennsylvania State?

Major traffic violations in Pennsylvania include:

  • Driving Under the Influence: Influence may mean alcohol or controlled substances
  • Refusal to submit to chemical testing
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) without a valid driver’s license
  • Fatality resulting from the careless operation of a CMV
  • The use of a vehicle to commit a felony crime
  • The use of a vehicle in the unlawful handling of controlled substances

What Are Traffic Misdemeanors In Pennsylvania?

These are serious traffic offenses but less severe than the major traffic offenses in the state. Traffic offenses with the potential to injure someone or damage property typically fall under this category. Such offenses attract the penalty for misdemeanors in the state, depending on the degree of severity. Misdemeanors are categorized into three degrees in the Pennslyvania:

  • First-degree misdemeanors: 36 months to five years imprisonment or a fine up to $10,000
  • Second-degree misdemeanors: 12 to 24 months imprisonment or a fine up to $5,000
  • Third-degree misdemeanors: six to 12 months imprisonment or a maximum fine of $2,500

Examples Of Traffic Misdemeanors In Pennsylvania?

Among the official examples of serious traffic violations In Pennsylvania are:

  • Moving at speed higher than 15 miles per hour
  • Reckless driving
  • Switching traffic lanes inappropriately
  • Tailgating a vehicle ahead
  • Driving without a license
  • Use of a mobile phone while driving
  • Texting while driving


In Pennsylvania, traffic infractions are minor offenses that include parking offenses, railroad-highway grade crossing offenses, out-of-service order violations, etc. While this category of offenses may not result in a jail term, offenders may end up with fines, tickets, and periods of disqualifications graded according to the nature of the offense.

Some of the cases may involve being arraigned in a traffic court. Persons who concede to the charges may evade court arraignment by paying the tickets. Although these offenders are released from the charges, points will emerge on their driving records due to the offense. Points on a driving record in Pennsylvania can increase insurance premiums for the motorists or a loss of insurance benefits altogether.

Also, the number of points on a driving record within a specific period may attract other penalties such as disqualification or traffic school. Points exceeding six on a record may lead to the suspension of a license. However, alleged individuals may decide to fight a traffic ticket by contesting it in court.

Examples Of Traffic Infractions In Pennsylvania?

Minor traffic offenses in Pennsylvania include:

  • Running a red light signal or stop sign
  • Not slowing down to check rail tracks before crossing the railroad
  • Failure to comply with the direction of a law enforcement official at the railroad crossing
  • Parking in the wrong place or wrong way
  • Not having a seat belt on
  • Driving too slowly

How Does A Traffic Ticket Work In Pennsylvania?

Traffic tickets are issued for minor moving traffic offenses in Pennsylvania, and these attract value under the PennDOT point-based system. These points accumulate or drop depending on the conduct of the driver in the space of 12 months.

  • A ticket for a violation may yield between two to five points. These points accumulate, leading to stiffer penalties for subsequent offenses.
  • Three points are removed from the driving record if a driver is not ticketed in the space of 12 months. Where the points are entirely removed, a new case of violation will be treated as a first-time violation.
  • An accumulation of the first six points will attract a written driver’s examination. This exam assesses the driver’s knowledge of safe driving practices, departmental sanctions, and related safety issues. Upon a successful outcome, two points will be deducted from the record. If the driver fails the exam, driving privileges will be suspended until he or she passes the exam. The first suspension usually lasts for 30 days.
  • A second accumulation will attract a 15-day suspension of driving privileges. Furthermore, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot) schedules a departmental hearing for the individual. Failure to attend this hearing may lead to loss of driving privileges. Also, the driver must pass an on-road driver’s exam to remove two points from the driving record.
  • A third accumulation may attract an indefinite suspension of driving privileges.
  • If points rise to 11, the law may sanction the driver for up to one year.

Note that the suspension of driving privileges requires the driver to return his or her driver’s license to the appropriate authority- state or local police, or any other delegate from PennDOT.

When a police officer tickets an individual, it may mean one of three things:

  • The individual must appear in court for a hearing
  • The individual must pay the amount stipulated on the ticket to the authorities
  • A combination of the two options above

If a court appearance is not mandatory, paying off the ticket implies that the driver admits guilt of the trespass for which he or she received a ticket. The case is closed when the ticket fine is paid and acknowledged by the court, while points show up in the driver’s record.

A ticketed individual can, however, decide to contest a ticket. The driver must notify the court in writing of his or her intention to contest the ticket. The court responds by scheduling a date for the trial. A ticketed driver can opt for a self-representation or hire an attorney. At the court hearing, there are several possible outcomes:

  • The ticket is overturned, and the court dismisses the case.
  • The court negotiates the ticket fine and points on the driver’s record. Negotiation is often the case where the driver is not entirely innocent of the charges.
  • The driver is found to be guilty and pays the full fine, as well as court fees and attorney charges.

How To Pay A Traffic Ticket In Pennsylvania

Magistrate District Courts and Municipal Courts handle traffic violation cases in Pennsylvania. Hence, traffic offenders may pay for a ticket in-person, by mail or online. To pay a ticket in person, the offender may visit the local court whose address is on the citation. When paying by mail, contact the Magistrate District or Municipal Courts in the county where the citation was given to determine the appropriate means of payment.

Persons who wish to pay online are directed to the ePay option on the web portal of The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania. Not all counties accept online payment. Here is a list of counties in Pennsylvania that accept online payments.

Are Driving Records Public In Pennsylvania?

Driving records are public records in Pennsylvania that are accessible to any member of the public. However, third-party inquirers must obtain a written authorization from the record holder to view or copy a driving record. A violation of this third-arty authorization is charged as a third-degree misdemeanor. Person and entities exempted from this rule include:

  • Insurance agencies
  • Employers seeking criminal history information
  • Persons with a court authorization or executive order
  • Law enforcement agencies

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.

How To Find Driving Records In Pennsylvania?

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is the repository for driving records in the state of Pennsylvania. A driving record contains all offenses, agency actions, and crash reports that have occurred during a certain period. Irrespective of the time-frame requested, all convictions are reflected in a driving record for life. To obtain a driving record:

  • Download and fill out the driving record request form DL–503
  • Indicate the type of information requested, a three-year or 10-year record.
  • Attach a check or money order payable to PennDOT for the appropriate fees as indicated on the form.

Submit the completed application and payment by mail or in-person to:

Bureau of Driver Licensing

Driver Record Services

P. O. Box 68695

Harrisburg, PA 17106–8695

Alternatively, the requests may be dropped at any of the various Driver Service locations across the state. Individuals may also complete a request for driving records online at the PennDOT website. This online request requires payments to be made by credit or debit cards. Note, certified driving records are not provided online.

Can Traffic Violations And Infractions Be Expunged/sealed In Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, eligible criminal traffic records may qualify to be expunged-that is, erased or sealed. Generally, records of traffic offenses that qualify for expungement in Pennsylvania include:

  • Cases that ended up as dismissed in court
  • First-time D. U. I. offenses that were assigned rehabilitation programs within the state as a remedial
  • Traffic offenses that are considered as minor, such as third-degree misdemeanors

The process to expunge a criminal traffic record in Pennsylvania involve the following steps:

  • Download and complete the SP 4–170 form
  • Include a $20 processing fee by money order or certified check made payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
  • Attach a copy of a valid photo I. D. and a written authorization.
  • Mail the set of documents to:

Pennsylvania State Police

Central Repository-RCPU

1800 Elmerton Avenue

Harrisburg, PA 17117–9758

While expunged records are permanently deleted off law enforcement databases, sealed records remain accessible to authorized state personnel and law enforcement agencies. Under the Pennsylvania Clean Slate Act of 2018, traffic records that qualify for automatic sealing are withdrawn from public access at the expiration of the waiting time for such minor or non-criminal offenses.

For records that do not qualify under the Clean Slate Act, the offender may be able to petition the Commonwealth Court for limited access. Under this privilege, certain law enforcement agencies will be restricted from disclosing the criminal traffic history information to the public. The court schedules a hearing for the petition and decides whether to grant the petition. If approved, an official notification is sent to PennDOT to seal the record.

Points accumulated on the PennDOT point system are also automatically expunged for certain convictions. Three points are deleted off the record for every 12 months of violation-free driving. However, this privilege is not extended to records of traffic offenses that involve felonies, first, and second-degree misdemeanors.

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