Receiving a citation from the police for committing a traffic violation in Bucks County, Montgomery County or the surrounding counties can have serious consequences that many drivers may not be aware of. Many people unknowingly pay the fines and court costs for their traffic citation without realizing the potential adverse effects on their driving privileges, car insurance rates and ability to make a living. It is important to consult with a local attorney to discuss a traffic violations defense strategy if you receive a summons for a traffic offense.
The Consequences of a Conviction for a Traffic Offense in Pennsylvania
After being convicted of certain traffic offenses, individuals who drive a vehicle as part of their job risk being terminated from employment. Employers will frequently view employees convicted of traffic offenses as being more likely to become involved in traffic accidents and to cause potential liability for the employer.
Insurance companies will often raise the insurance premiums for drivers convicted of traffic offenses because they view those drivers as being at higher risk of having a car accident or making an insurance claim. I can help you if you are facing the addition of points on your driving record or a possible suspension of your driving privileges due to a traffic ticket.
Bucks County Traffic Citation Attorney
I have over a decade of experience providing skilled and aggressive representation to drivers charged with all categories of traffic offenses in Bucks County, Montgomery County and the surrounding counties. Contact me at (215) 752-5282 for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response. Appointments are available after business hours and on weekends.
Common Traffic Violations and Penalties
||$200 fine, up to 90 days in jail, 6-month license suspension|
||2-5 points, special examination, departmental hearing|
||$200 fine, 1 year added to license suspension|
||$500 fine, 60-90 days in jail 1 year added to license suspension|
Speeding Tickets are the Most Common Traffic Citation in PA
In 2014, state and local police departments issued citations for more than 300,000 speeding violations in Pennsylvania, according to the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts. Speeding tickets are the most common traffic violation enforced in Pennsylvania, and the consequences of a conviction are serious.
Speed Limit Enforcement Devices Used in Pennsylvania
To enforce the speeding laws, Pennsylvania law enforcement officials will use one of the following devices or procedures:
- Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder (VASCAR)
- Electronic Non-Radar Device (ENRADD)
Proposed Law would Allow Local Police to Use Radar Devices in PA
In April 2019, the Pennsylvania Senate approved a bill that would permit local police departments to use radar to detect speeding violations. Under current law, the Pennsylvania State Police are the only law enforcement agency permitted to use radar to detect speeding infractions in Pennsylvania. Under the proposed law, local police officers must undergo a training program approved by the Pennsylvania State Police and the Municipal Police Officer’s Education and Training Commission before using the radar device. In addition, local police departments would be required to calibrate the radar device at least every 365 days. The legislation is expected to be approved by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and signed into law by Governor Wolf in the coming months.
Challenging the Evidence from a Speed Limit Enforcement Device
A radar speed gun is composed of a radio transmitter and receiver and is used to determine the speed of a moving vehicle by measuring the difference in the frequency of a radio signal when it is transmitted toward a vehicle and after the signal bounces off the vehicle. Speeding violation citations based on the use of a radar device can often be successfully challenged in court based on the traffic patterns at the time of the measurement, improper calibration of the radar device or human error by the device operator.
VASCAR is a non-radar device used to measure a vehicle’s speed as it passes between 2 fixed objects or reference points. Law enforcement officers will use a computer or stopwatch to “clock” the vehicle as it passes the first marker to the moment it passes the last marker. The vehicle’s average speed is determined by calculating the time it took the vehicle to travel the distance between the two markers.
Speeding violations based on the use of a VASCAR device can be successfully challenged in court by establishing the inaccuracy of the device, improper device calibration, human error by the operator in measuring the speed of the vehicle, or the inability of the device operator to accurately observe the fixed objects or reference points. VASCAR measures only an average vehicle speed and is not permitted for use in cases in which the driver is travelling only slightly above the speed limit.
The ENRADD consists of an aluminum bar affixed with 2 infrared transmitters placed 3 feet apart. A separate ENRADD is placed on the shoulder of each side of the road directly across from each other. The ENRADD measures the speed of the vehicle as it passes through the infrared beams of light over a distance of approximately 2 feet.
The ENRADD reading is transmitted through a wireless signal to an ENRADD monitor in a police vehicle. Speeding violations based on ENRADD devices can often be successfully challenged in court due to faulty calibration or placement of the devices outside the maximum distance for accuracy.
Pacing describes a technique used by law enforcement officers to measure your driving speed by following directly behind your vehicle while traveling at the same speed. The pacing technique requires the police officer to maintain a set, equal distance between the 2 vehicles for at least 2 tenths of a mile. The driving speed of the target vehicle is measured by observing the speedometer in the trailing patrol car.
The accuracy of a speeding violation based on the pacing technique can frequently be successfully challenged in court based on unusual roadway conditions, roadway grading, improper distance between the vehicles, improper calibration of the speedometer and human error on the part of the police officer measuring the vehicle speed.
Pennsylvania’s Point System for Traffic Offenses
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot) administers a point system designed to assign points to drivers upon conviction for specific traffic violations. Driving infractions such as excessive speeding, a 1st, 2nd or 3rd accumulation of 6 points on your driving record or the accumulation of 11 points on your driving record can trigger penalties including mandatory attendance at a departmental exam, suspension of your driving privileges or the successful completion of a mandatory driver’s examination.
Removing Points from your Record
Drivers who are able to complete 12 consecutive months without having their driving privileges suspended or revoked and who have not committed any traffic offenses resulting in points, revocation or suspension are eligible to have 3 points removed from their driving record. Once an individual’s driving record is reduced to 0 points for 12 consecutive months, any further assignment of points will be considered the 1st accumulation of points. I can help you if you are facing suspension of your driving privileges or other penalties due to the accumulation of points on your driving record.
Driver’s License Suspension in Pennsylvania
Losing your driving privileges can have a drastic impact on your life, often resulting in the loss of your job and your ability to provide financial security for yourself and your family. In Pennsylvania, your driver’s license can be suspended under many circumstances including:
- A conviction for speeding
- A conviction for driving without insurance
- A conviction for reckless driving
- A conviction for driving without a license
- A conviction for DUI
- Refusal of chemical testing for DUI
- Placement on ARD for DUI if blood alcohol content is 0.10% or above
- Failure to respond to traffic citations
- Failure to pay certain civil judgments
In many cases, it is possible to avoid or lessen the potential suspension of your driving privileges under these circumstances. I can review the facts of your case to develop the most effective strategy to keep you on the road.
Appealing a Driver’s License Suspension
An appeal of a driver’s license suspension must be filed in your local county’s Court of Common Pleas or in the Municipal Court of Philadelphia within 30 days of the mailing date of PennDot’s suspension letter. A driver’s license suspension hearing is permitted for certain limited purposes including:
- To request credit towards serving a driving privilege suspension, revocation or disqualification
- To appeal the denial, recall or cancellation of a probationary license
- To request credit towards serving an ignition interlock order
- To request a record review or to update your driving record
- To appeal the denial or recall of an occupational limited license
I can evaluate your case and explain your legal options if you are considering an appeal of the suspension of your driving privileges.
Fighting a Traffic Ticket in Court
The Philadelphia Municipal Court allows individuals to contest traffic violations through the online system within the traffic court website. For citations issued in the suburbs of Philadelphia, individuals will generally have 10 days from receipt of the traffic citation to enter a written not-guilty plea to the offense and request a hearing before the court. A driver entering a not-guilty plea to a traffic ticket in the suburban county district courts may also be required to make a partial payment of court costs as collateral.
Responding to the Citation
It is important to respond to the citation when you receive it in the mail because failure to do so can result in a suspension of your driving privileges and other penalties, including the issuance of a warrant for your arrest. Once the written not-guilty plea has been received by the court, a hearing notice with a date and time to appear will be mailed to you. Some courts may require that you post a small amount of collateral prior to the hearing.
Developing a Thorough Defense
I will thoroughly review the circumstances that led the police to issue the traffic citation. I have a comprehensive understanding of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code and the available defenses against both major and minor traffic offenses in Pennsylvania. In many cases, a complete defense investigation of the incident will reveal that a legal defense to the traffic citation exists.
Defense Investigation in Traffic Cases
In some cases, acquiring law enforcement dash-cam and body-cam videos will reveal evidence that contradicts the police officer’s basis for issuing the traffic citation. In other cases, I have been able to establish a successful defense by proving human error by the police in the circumstances leading up to the issuance of the citation. A malfunctioning or inaccurately calibrated device used by the police can also establish a defense against a speeding citation or other traffic violation. I will review the evidence in your case to evaluate all available defenses to the traffic offense.
Alternatives to Trial in a Traffic Citation Case
I have developed professional relationships with local police officers, state troopers, prosecutors and court officials in over 15 years of practicing criminal defense in Bucks County, Montgomery County and the surrounding counties. I have often been able to negotiate with local and state law enforcement officers to have the original traffic citation downgraded to a lesser offense carrying reduced penalties and fines.
Negotiating with the Police at the Hearing
In certain cases involving major traffic offenses, I will make arrangements for my client to complete a certified defensive driving class or accident prevention course prior to the scheduled hearing. Providing the local or state police officer with proof of completion of a driver safety class will often make it easier to negotiate the citation down to a reduced offense. I can evaluate the facts of your traffic offense to determine if a negotiated plea agreement will result in the best resolution of your case.
Summary Appeal of a Traffic Offense Conviction
I have extensive experience representing individuals who choose to appeal traffic offense convictions from the lower court. On the traffic court website, the Philadelphia Municipal Court has specific instructions for individuals to follow when filing a summary appeal of a traffic offense conviction. For individuals appealing a summary traffic offense conviction outside Philadelphia, a Notice of Appeal must be filed in the Court of Common Pleas in the county of the magisterial district where the citation was issued within 30 days of the conviction.
Deciding When to File a Summary Appeal
There are many circumstances under which it is advisable to file a summary appeal of a traffic violation conviction. In some cases, an individual may have chosen to represent himself or herself at the magisterial court hearing without success. In other cases, an individual may have entered a guilty plea to the citation without realizing that the conviction would result in a suspension of their driving privileges or in the addition of points on their driving record.
Filing a Traffic Ticket Appeal After the Filing Deadline
Filing an appeal of a traffic ticket conviction past the 30-day statutory deadline is referred to as a “nunc pro tunc” appeal. There are a number of circumstances in which an individual may be successful in filing a summary appeal of a traffic violation conviction past the 30-day deadline. Those circumstances include fraud, ineffective assistance from one’s lawyer or a breakdown in the operations of the court causing a delay in the filing of the appeal. I can determine whether any of these exceptions apply to your case.
The Summary Appeal Hearing
The summary appeal of the traffic offense will be listed for hearing before a judge of the Court of Common Pleas. It is often difficult for individuals without a legal background to successfully challenge a traffic violation in a formal court hearing. I have a thorough understanding of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, the Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence and all the available defenses to major and minor traffic offenses. I have also developed the ability to develop a successful traffic offense defense through the aggressive and focused cross-examination of police officers and civilian witnesses.
Summary Appeal Hearing Procedures
At the summary appeal hearing, the judge will evaluate the evidence presented by the appellant and the district attorney by applying a de novo review. The de novo review legal standard requires the judge to assess the evidence presented anew, as if no prior hearing had taken place. I have often been able to reach a negotiated plea agreement to lesser charges with the prosecutor prior to the commencement of the hearing. In many cases, the negotiated plea agreement will allow the individual to maintain their driving privileges and clean driving record. I can help you if you are facing a summary appeal hearing for a conviction for a traffic offense.
Start with a Strong Defense
If you have received a citation for a traffic offense in Bucks County, Montgomery County or the surrounding counties, it is critical that you act quickly to protect your Pennsylvania driving privileges. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day at (215) 752-5282. Call today for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.