The average driver will be cited with at least one traffic citation while on the road. Considering it a minor offense, most drivers choose to manage a traffic violation in the most convenient way possible. With no questions asked, they pay the fine and think that they're putting the situation behind them. But this reaction to infractions often comes back to haunt drivers in the long run.
When you pay off a ticket, you're making an admission of guilt. This means that you're pleading guilty to a violation. The cost of pleading guilty is higher than most people think, as drivers face rising insurance premiums, costly fines, the accumulation of points on their driving record, and the potential loss of driving privileges. All of these penalties immensely inconvenience the average driver, and can ultimately jeopardize the livelihood of a commercial driver.
The only way to avoid these repercussions it to ensure you don't mismanage traffic violations. In some circumstances, this may mean that you'll have to challenge the issuing of a citation. Effectively doing so requires the assistance of an attorney. A legal professional will be able to properly assess which course of action will work better for you in your unique circumstance. They will also maximize your chances of success.
For the purposes of this article, we will explore the potential ramifications of pleading guilty to traffic violations.
Pennsylvania's Point System
Pennsylvania's motor vehicle point system is the state's way of identifying, documenting, and penalizing people that are categorized as “high risk” drivers. Each time a registered state motorist is convicted of a traffic violation, a series of “points” are marked onto their record. The specific amount of points added varies based on the state's perceived severity of the offense. For example, failing to stop at a stop sign will result in 3 points added to a person's record.
As more points accumulate from various traffic violations, the more consequences a driver will be exposed to.
The Potential Consequences of Pleading Guilty
If a driver is convicted of certain traffic offenses in Pennsylvania, he or she will be required to pay a fine. The amount varies depending on the traffic violation committed. Motorists will have to pay for the additional penalties imposed because of a ticket also. A conviction for an alcohol or drugged driving related offense, for example, may warrant counseling sessions or rehabilitation. A driver will be responsible for paying the costs for these services.
Insurance cost increases
Auto insurance companies strongly believe that past driving behavior is indicative of future behavior on the road. This conviction plays a major role in how driver risk is perceived, and ultimately, how premiums are calculated by providers. Some tickets have the ability to significantly affect your car insurance rates, while others may not. Typically, an insurance company may raise a motorist's insurance rates due to the following citations:
- Leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
- Speeding and/or reckless driving on more than one occasion
- Driving 10 to 26 mph over the speed limit
A traffic citation conviction will affect a motorist's insurance premium for no more than three years. Although state traffic law dictates which violation can potentially raise premiums and for how long, insurance companies practice-wide discretion when determining how expensive the additional surcharge will be.
License suspension / revocation
In the state of Pennsylvania, motorists are at risk of temporarily or permanently losing their driving privileges when they accumulate six points or more to their driving record. A suspension means that a motorist's driving privileges will be taken away for a specified period of time. A license revocation, however, means that a motorist's license has been canceled, and the opportunity to obtain another one will only present itself when the revocation period ends. Too many license suspensions and/or revocations will lead to the permanent loss of driving privileges.
The decision to suspend a person's license, for what violation, and for how long varies depending on an individual's age. Drivers under the age of 18 will be subject to a license suspension by PennDOT if there are more than six points on their record, or if they acquire a traffic ticket for speeding 26 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit. The duration of a suspension period for young drivers will depend on if they're facing their facing their first suspension (90 days) or any subsequent suspensions (120 days).
For adult drivers or motorists who are 18 years old and older, the accumulation of six points on a driving record doesn't guarantee an automatic suspension. This decision is made based on how many times you've accrued six points or more. Oftentimes, the department will offer alternative options to a driver's license suspension before one is enforced. These alternatives include a driving written exam, a departmental hearing, or a behind-the-wheel test for the removal of points. PennDOT has wide discretion overall of the fate of your driving privileges.
The only time an immediate suspension is definite is if you have acquired a DUI, or if you've accrued 11 points or more on your driving record.
Pennsylvania Traffic Ticket Defense Attorney
Being convicted of a traffic violation may subject Pennsylvania motorists to damaging legal and financial repercussions. Even if you feel that a ticket is unbeatable, it doesn't hurt to challenge it with the help of a legal professional. The assistance of an attorney is crucial if you could be subjected to any of the consequences indicated above. Joseph D. Lento is devoted to helping his clients successfully overcome traffic infractions and the serious consequences they carry. For more questions about his representation, or for a case evaluation, contact him today.