TRAFFIC TICKETS: NOT SO SIMPLE

Officier writing a ticket to a male driver

Say “traffic ticket” and we all conjure up images of a police officer outside your driver’s side window handing you the dreaded slip of paper. Traffic tickets are primarily issued for vehicle code violations. These include things like speeding, careless driving, going through a stop sign or traffic light or having an expired license or registration, just to name a few. We probably all agree that there is a penalty associated with these types of infractions. Mistakenly, we probably all think that the penalty is a fine. We blindly pay the fine and think all is well. What we don’t think about, and maybe don’t even know, is what can and often does come next.

Many offenses like these often come with something called “points”. You don’t find out about this until a letter from PennDOT arrives in your mail weeks, sometimes months, after you think you are finished with the traffic ticket. Points are assigned to offenses and, depending on the offense, can range anywhere from two to five points per offense. If you accumulate six points, you face the possibility of license suspension and required driver training.

Points are removed at the rate of three per year for each year without an infraction. Even when you reach zero, you must drive a complete year without any violations to keep your record clear. These points can, and often do, result in increased insurance premiums as well.

Additionally, there are some offense which can carry a mandatory license suspension following your conviction. Sending in your ticket with payment is the equivalent of a conviction. Like points, you won’t learn about these suspensions until well after you have paid your fine and you get that letter from PennDOT. At that point, it is often too late to challenge the underlying offense.

Have a ticket? Call us for help.