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The Potential Consequences of Speeding Tickets

by | Jun 9, 2024 | Firm News | 0 comments

Should Drivers Contest Speeding Tickets?

Pennsylvania puts approximately 1.5 million traffic violations on the books each year, and more than 20% of them are speeding offenses. That means that police throughout the state are issuing over 850 speeding tickets every single day. Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys note that contesting a speeding ticket is an option, but there are a range of factors to consider.

What to Expect When Getting a Speeding Ticket

After police pull you over for a speeding ticket, the officer will request your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys recommend being calm and patient and not using this interaction as an opportunity to argue the ticket or persuade the officer. The officer will ask you to sign the ticket. Signing it is not an admission of guilt but rather a recognition of receiving it. The officer will give you a copy and may then explain how to proceed. You will also find clear instructions on your copy. The ticket will also have additional information, such as:

  • Posted speed limit
  • Miles over the speed limit
  • Preliminary court date
  • Location of the offense
  • Vehicle identification
  • Personal and contact information
  • Officer’s name and badge number

Speeding Ticket Fines in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania uses a speeding fine scale. The base fine is typically $45, and it increases by $2 for each mile per hour that you exceed the posted speed limit. The zone in which you were traveling is a factor as well. The state recognizes seven mph zones:

  • 25 mph
  • 35 mph
  • 40 mph
  • 45 mph
  • 55 mph
  • 65 mph
  • 70 mph

The fine for speeding tickets in the 65 and 70 mph zones starts at $44.50. The zone also dictates the upper speed at which point it is no longer a traffic offense but a misdemeanor or more serious crime. In the 25 mph zone, that point is a speed in excess of 60 mph.

Pennsylvania’s Points System

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) will put points on your license if you plead guilty or a judge finds you guilty of speeding. These points are part of your driving record, which is what insurance companies use to assess you as a risk. Drivers ideally want a points-free driving record as points can affect you negatively when it comes to:

  • Credit
  • Employment
  • Insurance premiums

The points for a speeding ticket depend on the speed. PennDOT will add:

  • 2 points at 6 to 10 mph over
  • 3 points at 11-15 mph
  • 4 points at 16-25 mph
  • 5 points at over 25 mph

Note that PennDOT will not notify your insurance company until you accrue six or more points. With speeding tickets, this generally means you will need to receive a second ticket before your rates go up. This is also the point at which you will need to take and pass a written exam to avoid a short-term license suspension.

Do You Have to Go to Court for a Speeding Ticket?

Pennsylvania gives you two options: pay the fine or go to court. If you choose to pay the fine, you can do so online, by mail or in person at the Clerk of Courts office in the relevant county. Through this approach, you simply pay the fine and no other additional charges, such as court costs. If you go to court and are found guilty, you will have to pay the fine and court costs. If you are found not guilty or a judge dismisses the case, you will not have to pay anything at all, including court costs. Note that if your speeding ticket is connected to a criminal offense, such as a DUI, you will have to go to court regardless.

What Happens If You Do Not Pay a Speeding Ticket?

You should never ignore a speeding ticket, as you will only make the penalties worse. If you cannot afford the fine, there are options, such as payment plans without interest. If you simply do not pay or attend court, the court and/or PennDOT can:

  • Increase your fine
  • Issue an arrest warrant
  • Suspend your driver’s license
  • Add additional points to your record

How to Fight a Speeding Ticket

To fight a speeding ticket, you will need to go to the courthouse on the day of the hearing. The ticketing police officer should attend as well, and if the officer does not, a judge will usually dismiss the ticket. A common question is whether you need an attorney to contest a speeding ticket. There is no technical requirement. You can represent yourself and argue your case before a judge without an attorney. That said, having an attorney could greatly increase your chances of successfully contesting the ticket. For speeding tickets, most attorneys offer a flat rate that, if applicable, includes the fine and court costs. You should also know that most lawyers will consult with you about your speeding ticket at no cost and without obligation. That means that there is little risk to at least explore the possibility.

How to Get a Speeding Ticket Off Your Record

Once PennDOT has put points on your driving record, those points will remain there for a period of 12 consecutive months. PennDOT will remove up to three points at a time. That means that if you avoid additional speeding tickets, your driving record may be clear within a year. Note that if at any point PennDOT assigns you additional points or suspends or revokes your driver’s license, that timer will reset in full. If you have accrued six points, you have the option of Driver Improvement School. If you successfully complete this program, PennDOT will immediately remove two points from your record. The state does not offer a mechanism where you can expunge a speeding ticket after having pled or been found guilty.

Should You Contest a Speeding Ticket?

Whether to contest is something you should discuss with an attorney soon after you have received the ticket. If you have received a speeding ticket for the first time, simply paying it will be the most affordable option as long as you do not get additional tickets within the next year. No single ticket will put you at the six-point threshold, which means that your auto insurance rates will not go up. There may be potential for the points to affect your credit or employment, which is something you will want to discuss with your lawyer.

If the speeding ticket is a subsequent offense, contesting the ticket is generally recommended. Even if an attorney cannot get the case dismissed or have you found not guilty, they may be able to reach an agreement that limits the penalties. You may pay a bigger fine but could, for instance, avoid the higher insurance premiums that would affect you for the next five years or more.

Legal Assistance for Your Speeding Ticking

The law firm of Bauer, Scanlon & Wigginton has extensive experience representing clients who have received speeding tickets and other traffic offenses. If a police officer has pulled you over and given you a speeding ticket, we recommend consulting with an attorney as soon as possible. To meet with one of our Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys, you can call our Media office at 610-590-5092, or contact us online.