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pa traffic citation process

Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, PA Traffic Ticket Lawyers

 

If you or someone you love has been cited with a traffic ticket in Pennsylvania, Lampman Law can help. We are located in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, PA and we fight Vehicle Code violations throughout northeastern and central Pennsylvania. We understand that not all traffic tickets need to be challenged. In fact, sometimes it actually might be better not to fight a ticket. However, you should call a lawyer to discuss the case if the citation was unlawfully issued or if it will result in: jail time; a license suspension; PennDOT action; points; and/or, an excessive fines. We offer a free consultation by phone or in our officer. Please call us now at 570-371-3737 to discuss your case.

How are Traffic Citations Issued?

 

A traffic case is initiated by a PSP trooper or municipal police officer issuing a citation following a traffic stop. The summons or citation can also be sent to the defendant by mail. 

How are Vehicle Code Violations Graded in Pennsylvania?

 

The vast majority of traffic offenses in Pennsylvania are summary offenses. A summary offense is a violation with a maximum penalty of 90 days imprisonment. The penalty assessed for most summary crimes and traffic citations is a monetary fine; in fact, jail time is generally reserved for major traffic related offenses such as DUI.

Will I Get Specific Notice that a Violation will Result in Suspension or Points?

 

No. PennDOT suspensions and/or points are a collateral consequence to a summary traffic conviction. Traffic citations do not notify defendants if the violation carries points or a suspension. 

 

What Information is Contained on a PA Traffic Citation?

A Pennsylvania traffic citation / summons is generally a one page form document. The police officer prints relevant information on the citation. It includes the: magisterial district court; date; offense location; defendant’s name and address; vehicle description and owner; the offense and statute number; a brief description of the violation; and, the fines and fees. The ticket also describes what must be done to respond to the citations and a portion to return with a plea or guilty or not guilty. 

What if there are Errors on the Citation?

Substantial errors on a traffic ticket in Pennsylvania may result in dismissal if the defendant can establish prejudice. For example, recording the wrong section of the PA Motor Vehicle Code may be prejudicial error. The officer’s failure to properly describe the event or a violation will usually result in a dismissal.

Minor errors such spelling typos or getting the year of the car wrong usually generally will not result in dismissal. 

How Do I Respond to a PA Traffic Ticket?

If you receive a traffic citation in Pennsylvania you must either plead guilty and pay the fine, or plead not guilty and request a hearing within 10 days. If you fail to respond to the citation you risk having your license suspended.

It is important to act fast, however, it is also essential to understand the consequences of pleading guilty to the traffic ticket. In short, some Vehicle Code violations carry mandatory license suspension. Further, the Pennsylvania Points System is complex and has mandatory suspensions once you reach six (6) points.

Should I Plead Not Guilty and Request a Hearing (Summary Trial)?

If you decide to fight the traffic ticket you will have to request a hearing by noting it on the citation and mailing it to the district court. The district magistrate Judge will send notice of the summary trial time, date, and location. If you fail to promptly appear at the hearing it is likely that you will be found guilty. 

The majority of traffic violations in Pennsylvania are prosecuted by the arresting officer; therefore, it is very unusual for an assistant district attorney to be present. The officer will usually testify and may call witnesses to help prove the case against you. If physical evidence is relevant it will also be introduced. You or your attorney will have an opportunity to cross examine the Commonwealth’s witnesses and present witnesses to support your defense.

At the conclusion of the testimony the judge will often allow argument related to the evidence. The judge will finally decide the case. If you are NOT GUILTY, the security you posted when requesting the summary trial will be returned. If you are GUILTY, the security will go toward paying the amount of the fine and court costs and PennDOT will add points to your driving record if appropriate.

What if I Fail to Attend the Summary Trial

If you fail to appear at the hearing or summary trial a guilty verdict will be entered against you and you will have to pay the balance of the fine and court costs.

Sometime, the court will excuse your appearance if a lawyer appears at the hearing on your behalf. 

Can I Appeal a Pennsylvania Traffic Ticket Conviction 

Summary traffic convictions resulting from a guilty plea or a guilty verdict can be appealed to the Court of Common Please. In other words, a Summary Appeal can be taken to the Court of Common Pleas even if the conviction resulted from pleading guilty by paying the fine by mail.

 

A Notice of Appeal must  be filed within 30 days from the entry of conviction. The thirty (30) days includes Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays, unless the deadline falls on one of those days in which case, the deadline is the next business day.

 

If the appeal was properly and timely filed you will be given a new trial at the Court of Common Pleas in the county where the alleged offense was committed.

 


 

 

2 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701

reception@lampmanlaw.com  |   570-371-3737

Lampman Law practices criminal defense and civil rights in the Counties of: Bradford, Carbon, Clinton, Columbia, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mifflin, Monroe, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Pike, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Union, Wayne, Wyoming. Lampman Law Office is located in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. The information on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Do not rely on it for accuracy or direction. You should consult an attorney for advice concerning your individual situation because every case is different. Further, contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Do not send confidential information to us until an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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