Getting a speeding ticket in the state of Pennsylvania is not uncommon. In fact, in 2013, Pennsylvania wrote the second highest number of traffic tickets over every other state in the country. While this can partly be explained because of the nearly 13 million people living in and driving around the state, with many of them living in heavily populated cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, it is still a staggering number of traffic tickets and increases the likelihood of you getting a traffic ticket as a driver in Pennsylvania.
The most common kind of traffic ticket written is a speeding ticket. Nearly every driver has sped at one point or another in their lives, whether it was going a little faster than the speed limit in a quiet residential area or enjoying a speedy trip in the fast lane on the highway.
Sometimes, speeding even happens by accident, such as when you are going down a hill and pick up momentum. In many ways, speeding is so common than many people forget that it is considered a traffic offense, especially because radar detectors are legal to use in Pennsylvania. Speeding has almost become part of everyday driving.
Unfortunately, police officers are not interested in the reasons why you were speeding. If you are caught driving as little as six miles per hour faster than the posted speed limit, you could be pulled over and issued a speeding ticket. Pennsylvania allows state police officers using radar guns to pull people over for speeding six miles per hour above the limit or over, while local police officers without radar guns can pull people over for going ten miles per hour above the limit or over. Pennsylvania is the only state that still does not allow local police to use radar guns, instead forcing them to rely on older methods like timing cars with a stopwatch as they travel between two points.
This may make it seem like it is easy to get away with speeding in Pennsylvania until you consider how easy it is to speed. Even if you’re just following the traffic ahead of you, you could end up going fifteen miles per hour above the speed limit without even noticing. This is especially an issue when you are driving at one speed and the posted speed limit suddenly drops, especially if the sign is difficult to see or if you cannot slow down quickly enough. And, unfortunately, these are the spots most heavily monitored by police officers, who will nail you for not dropping five or ten miles in speed immediately even though you did not see the sign until it was too late.
Once the officer pulls you over and writes your speeding ticket, you may be wondering what to do, especially if this is your first speeding ticket. The first thing you should do is stay calm and consider your options. Many people assume that there is no way out of their speeding ticket, but that if they go ahead and pay the fine, the ticket will “disappear” and they can move on with their lives. Unfortunately, this is not the case under state traffic law. The penalties associated with Pennsylvania speeding tickets go beyond the fines to include points on your driving record, increased insurance premiums, and even having your driver’s license suspended. Penalties often get more severe if you have another speeding ticket or traffic citation on your record. If you are not willing to face these steep penalties because of a simple speeding ticket, call a Pennsylvania speeding ticket lawyer to help you with your case.
The fines associated with speeding tickets will vary by the amount that you were speeding and by the posted speed limit itself. For example, going ten miles over in a 25 mile per hour zone results in a fine of $45, but going twenty miles over in a 65 mile per hour zone results in a fine of $72. These costs do not include the fees you will have to pay for court costs and other surcharges that can be tacked onto your ticket as a way to fund various public projects.
Speeding tickets also will result in points being added to your driving record. Again, the number of points that are added will vary by how fast you were going. Speeding by six to ten miles over the limit results in two points being added to your driving record, whereas speeding by 31 miles per hour or over will add five points to your record. These points can ultimately add up and result in serious consequences for you as a driver. After six points have been added to your record, you will have to take a safe driving test. After another six points, you could even face having your license suspended for fifteen days.
Many people also don’t realize that if you get a speeding ticket and points added to your record, your car insurance company could raise your monthly premiums because you could be considered a greater “risk” to them if you have a record of speeding. On top of the expensive fines and the consequences of having points on your record, having increased insurance premiums can be more than you are willing to face for a simple speeding ticket.
Fortunately, the way that traffic tickets work under Pennsylvania law allows people who have gotten a speeding ticket to plead not guilty to their ticket and have their case heard in a special court designed to hear traffic cases — in Pennsylvania, these are the municipal courts that correspond to each district across the state. Your case will be heard before a judge in your local district court, where you will explain your side of the story to the judge and the police officer who wrote your ticket will explain their side as well.
The presence of the police officer who wrote your ticket can often hurt your chances in court of being treated fairly and without bias. Judges usually tend to be more sympathetic to the police officers, generally assuming that the officer knew what they were doing and that they followed the letter of the law when they wrote the ticket. It can be easier to believe that the police officer was right and you were wrong if you were caught speeding.
However, this is not always the case. Police officers can make mistakes when running radar or when pulling someone over. The radar gun itself could have been improperly maintained and malfunctioned as a result. Furthermore, the speed limit sign could have been obstructed from view, or the speed trap could have been set up unfairly, such as at the bottom of a hill where it is likely that almost everyone will be going faster than they intended simply due to physics. Budget cuts often lead to radar guns not being maintained and officers not being trained properly, which can call the accuracy of your ticket into question
While these are all excellent defenses that can help you in your speeding ticket hearing, they are extremely difficult to prove if you try to represent yourself. This is where an experienced Pennsylvania speeding ticket lawyer will be of invaluable assistance. Your attorney will have access to records and documents that will clearly demonstrate that the radar gun malfunctioned or got a false reading, that the sign was hidden from view, that the speed trap was set up unfairly, or even that the police officer was not properly trained to use the radar gun. This evidence will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you deserve to have your penalties reduced or your ticket dismissed altogether and is much more effective than simply your word against the word of the police officer. Your lawyer will also know the best ways to argue your case before the judge and how to present you in a favorable light, even if this is not your first traffic ticket.
Do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our speeding ticket attorneys today. Our office has over sixty years of combined experience handling traffic tickets, especially speeding tickets, in municipal courts across the state of Pennsylvania. We are familiar with the law and even with the judges hearing these cases, meaning that we will be able to provide you with legal representation tailored to fit your unique situation. We also know that the money you will save by avoiding expensive fines, surcharges, and increased insurance premiums are well worth the minimal fees of working with an experienced speeding ticket lawyer.
It is important that you contact your lawyer as soon as possible before your court date so that they can begin preparing a solid defense on your behalf. The more time you have, the better prepared you will be to face the judge and have your ticket dismissed or your penalties reduced. Your phone call is free, so call our offices today at (#) and avoid facing the unnecessarily harsh penalties for your speeding ticket.