Traffic Violations in Pennsylvania
If you are driving in Pennsylvania and are caught committing a traffic violation, you will be issued a citation by a local Pennsylvania Police Officer, Pennsylvania Sheriff's Office or the Pennsylvania Highway Patrol. All Pennsylvania traffic violations are overseen by a Pennsylvania county or municipal court in the county where you received the traffic citation.
If you are issued a traffic ticket, the citation will include the information you need to know regarding the specific Pennsylvania court overseeing your traffic violation as well as instructions on how to pay the fine without appearing in court if you so choose. While some courts in major urban Pennsylvania areas will allow you to pay the fine for your traffic violation online, you will likely have to mail in a check or present a check or cash in person to the Pennsylvania court handling your traffic violation.
If you wish to challenge your traffic violation or appear in court to plead guilty, your traffic citation will provide you with an arraignment date for you to appear in the Pennsylvania court handling your traffic violation and set a date for trial.
Pennsylvania Points System
The Pennsylvania state legislature has authorized the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation ("DOT") to utilize a "points" system to record each driver's Pennsylvania driving history. The Pennsylvania points system requires you as a Pennsylvania driver to maintain a driving record with less than six points at all times or risk possible suspension of your Pennsylvania driving privileges.
Below is a list of many common traffic violations and the points that the Pennsylvania DOT assigns against your Pennsylvania driving record for committing:
- Speeding by less than 10 mph: 2 pts
- License restriction violations (i.e., driving at night): 2 pts
- Running a Red Light: 3 pts
- Careless Driving: 3 pts
- Tailgating: 3 pts
- Failure to Yield: 3 pts
- Speeding by 11-15mph: 3 pts
- Speeding by 16-25mph: 4 pts
- Speeding by 26-30: 5 pts
- Speeding by more than 30mph: 5 pts & 15-day suspension
- Speeding in a Work Zone: Points + a 15-day suspension
While a single traffic violation may not seem like a serious issue, just two 11mph speeding violations in a short amount of time would result in six points on your record. If that happens, Pennsylvania DOT will order you to take a written examination, within 30 days of a written notification, in order to retain your Pennsylvania driving privileges. By passing the exam, two points will be taken off your Pennsylvania driving record.
Pennsylvania will also eliminate three points off your driving record for every 12 months that you avoid traffic violations or a suspension for reasons not affiliated with your driving record (i.e., failure to pay child support). If you receive points against your Pennsylvania driving record, but have them removed from your record through an extended period safe driving and can maintain a clean record for 12 more months, Pennsylvania DOT will wipe your Pennsylvania driving record clean as if you had never incurred any traffic violations.
Suspension of License in Pennsylvania
If you are a Juvenile Driver, a driver under the age of 18, and you incur six points against your Pennsylvania driving record or are caught speeding by over 25mph above the speed limit, you may have your license suspended for as much as 90 days and require you to successfully complete a written traffic safety examination. If this happens twice before you turn 19, Pennsylvania DOT will suspend your Pennsylvania driving privileges for 4 months.
If you are above 18 years old, six points against your driving record will only result in your required passage of a Pennsylvania DOT-administered written examination in order to retain your Pennsylvania driving privileges. You need to pass this exam, however, or your Pennsylvania driving privileges will be revoked for one month and you will still be required to pass the examination when that 30-day suspension has expired. Pass it, and two points will be removed from your Pennsylvania driving record to allow you to continue driving in Pennsylvania.
A second failure to keep six points off your Pennsylvania driving record will trigger a more severe penalty. PennDOT will order you to attend an administrative hearing to examine your Pennsylvania driving record. Unless you can explain away your consistent poor driving habits, you will likely have your Pennsylvania driving record for fifteen days and be forced to pass a driving examination consisting of an on-road test. If you pass the road test within 30 days of your suspension, your Pennsylvania driving privileges will be reinstated.
If you cannot keep your Pennsylvania driving record free of six total points for a third time, the Pennsylvania DOT will implement exceedingly more stringent restrictions on your Pennsylvania driving privileges, including additional department hearings, longer suspensions. Further, if you are caught speeding by more than 30 mph just once, mandatory hearings will be held to determine whether you are a danger to other Pennsylvania drivers and possible suspensions will be administered against your Pennsylvania driving record. In addition, 5 points will be added to your driving record if you fail to attend any of the Pennsylvania DOT ordered hearings.
Finally, if you incur 11 points against your Pennsylvania driving record, the Pennsylvania DOT will automatically suspend your license, depending on your previous Pennsylvania driving record, for anywhere from five days to one year.
For all traffic violations, points and suspensions of your Pennsylvania driving privileges, the Pennsylvania DOT will notify your insurance carrier, which almost certainly will raise your auto insurance premiums as a result.
Attending Pennsylvania Traffic School
Unfortunately, the Pennsylvania DOT does not provide Pennsylvania drivers with an opportunity to have traffic violations or points removed from their Pennsylvania driving record by attending traffic school or a defensive driver program. However, the local Pennsylvania court overseeing your traffic violation may consider reducing or dismissing your traffic violation if you participate in some form of traffic school, including a Pennsylvania online traffic school or online driver improvement program.
If you are interested in seeing if you can enroll in a Pennsylvania online traffic school or driver improvement program in order to receive a lesser charge against you or have a traffic violation dismissed, you should call the local Pennsylvania court handling your traffic violation to determine if this is a common option, particularly for first-time offenders. Alternatively, you should consider appearing in court for an arraignment and setting a date for trial, so you can ask the court if it will consider offering you a reduced penalty or dismissing the traffic violation in exchange for your enrollment in a Pennsylvania online traffic school or Pennsylvania online driver improvement program. Most likely, the court's discretion will depend on the severity of your traffic violation, the cleanliness of your previous Pennsylvania driving history and your sincerity in seeking to improve your overall defensive and safe driving skills.
The Benefits of a Clean Pennsylvania Record
As you can see, maintaining a clean Pennsylvania driving record is helpful for many reasons. As well as avoiding costly citations, a clear Pennsylvania driving record may help you avoid suspension of your Pennsylvania driving privileges should you find yourself in a Pennsylvania DOT administrative hearing to review your Pennsylvania driving history.
A clean Pennsylvania driving record also keeps your auto insurance premiums low by keeping the Pennsylvania DOT from releasing information to your insurance carrier that is likely to lead to hikes in your insurance rates. Car insurance companies are also much less likely to raise your insurance premiums if you demonstrate a commitment to safe driving by enrolling an a Pennsylvania online traffic school, Pennsylvania online defensive driving program, or Pennsylvania online driver improvement program.
Pennsylvania online traffic school and online Pennsylvania driver improvement programs can teach you defensive driving skills and improve your overall ability to drive safely so that you can help keep yourself and other Pennsylvania drivers safe. In doing so, you will also stay free of traffic violations and avoidable accidents in the future.
Pennsylvania Mature Driver Insurance Discounts
A Pennsylvania driver improvement program may even qualify you for a discount. For Pennsylvania mature Drivers, drivers 55 and older, successful completion of a state-approved mature driver improvement course can provide you with at least a 5% discount off your auto insurance premiums. Although some insurance carriers may remove the discount if you're in a chargeable accident, or receive points on your license within this time frame, this discount is valid for three years and you can retake the course after three years to re-qualify for the discount. You should contact your insurance carrier to determine if an online traffic school or driver improvement program will qualify as well.
Pennsylvania Juvenile Driver Insurance Discounts
Pennsylvania Juvenile Drivers, drivers under the age of 18, may be eligible for similar discounts as well. If you are a juvenile driver or have or a juvenile driver in your household, you should look into whether your insurance provider will lower your auto insurance premiums, or refrain from increasing those premiums in the event of an accident or traffic violation, simply by successfully participating in a Pennsylvania online traffic school or online driver improvement program.
Pennsylvania Brick and Mortar Traffic Schools
If you are interested in taking a Pennsylvania driver improvement or traffic school course in a traditional classroom setting, or if you are required to do so as part of a plea settlement or Pennsylvania DOT-administered penalty, you should contact the Pennsylvania DOT or the local Pennsylvania court overseeing your traffic violation to see if they can provide you with a list of approved brick-and-mortar traffic school classrooms.