Whether you drive on Pennsylvania roadways every day or have not been behind the wheel at all, if you have a driver's license you have a driving record. A driving record encompasses all documented aspects of your driving history. The state's motor vehicle agency is responsible for maintaining this record for all licensed motorists within the state.
All drivers - especially those who have been convicted of traffic violations - should have at least an idea of what is on their record. For the purposes of this article, I'll provide information about what driving records contain, how the information on this record will affect you, and who can access this information in Pennsylvania.
What information is included in your driving record?
A registered motorist's driving record contains a vast amount of information. As with any other record, personal identification information like a person's full name, address, date of birth, and a photograph will be included. Details about a person's driver's license are also on this record, such as the license number, information about your car, any endorsements one may have acquired (applicable in cases of commercial drivers), collisions you've been involved in, and the status of a driver's license. Lastly, and most importantly, the number of points one has acquired due to traffic citations will be listed on the record. An index of all a person's traffic convictions will be documented, including the citation number and date, the conviction date, and the offense type and violation code.
Most people become concerned about their driving record when enough points begin to accumulate on their record to enforce administrative and legal punishments. So, it's important for state drivers to gain a comprehensive understanding of the system Pennsylvania utilizes to enforce traffic laws and hold motorists accountable for traffic infractions.
Pennsylvania's Point System
Pennsylvania's motor vehicle point system is the state's method of identifying, documenting, and penalizing drivers who are considered “high risk.” The purpose of this system is to help improve driving habits and to ensure that people in the state are driving safely. Each time a motorist is cited and charged with a traffic violation, a series of “points” are marked on their driving record. The number of points added is dictated by state traffic law, which assigns points to violations based on their perceived severity. For example, a conviction for failing to stop at a red light will result in three points added to an individual's record.
As more points that begin to accumulate from various violations exposes, a driver is exposed to more consequences. To maintain a fair system, three points are removed from a driving record every 12 consecutive months a person drives from the date of the last violation. Avoiding run-ins with law enforcement has its perks in Pennsylvania. Once a driving record contains zero points and remains at zero for an entire year, any further accruement of points will be treated as the first accumulation of points.
How information on your driving record affects you
The information provided on your driving record has the capability to either help you or hurt you. A squeaky clean driving record can help you save money on car insurance. A poor driving record, on the other hand, can lead to serious consequences that have adversely affected many people's finances and caused them to lose their driving privileges.
Who has access to your driving record?
You. It's important for you to always be informed of the information on your driving record. Staying on top of your points, traffic convictions, and the status of your license is crucial when it comes to avoiding impending penalties. You may also want to double check that all the information on your record is correct.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The Pennsylvania DMV is tasked with updating the information on your record. For questions about any of the information on your record, or to get a tangible copy of your driving record, you should call this department.
Auto insurance companies. These companies use your driving record to determine your driver risk and how your premium will be calculated. Companies tend to assess factors like the violations acquired by a driver, the number of citations issued, and the severity of a violation to come up with rates. The good news is that a traffic conviction will only affect a motorist's insurance premium for no more than three years. The bad news is that Pennsylvania law grants insurance companies wide discretion as to how high surcharge rates will be for “high risk” drivers.
Law enforcement. Every time an officer pulls drivers over on suspicion of a traffic violation, it is routine for this officer to access the suspect's driving record to affirm that their license is valid.
Commercial driving employers. Employers who require their employees to drive company-owned vehicles or even a person's own respective vehicle can freely access your driving record.
Pennsylvania Traffic Ticket Defense Attorney
Being convicted of a traffic violation may subject Pennsylvania motorists to dire financial, administrative and legal repercussions. Even if you feel that a ticket cannot be beaten, it is recommended that you challenge it with the help of a legal professional. The assistance of an attorney is crucial, especially if you can be subjected to the loss of your driving privileges, the installation of an ignition interlock device, insurance rate increases, or a license suspension/revocation. If you're a commercial driver, the help of an attorney is even more crucial.
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.