Fight Traffic Ticket in PennsylvaniaPage Overview
- Pay the fine.
- Incur points on your driving record (which could lead to license suspension or revocation).
- Experience an increase in auto insurance rates.
Learn more about
Paying your Traffic Ticket »
(Plead Not Guilty)
- Contest the ticket during a hearing.
- Hire a traffic ticket attorney to represent you.
- Perhaps lose the option of pleading to a lesser charge.
- Experience no penalties if found not guilty (except any applicable court/attorney fees).
- Appeal the guilty verdict (if applicable).
Learn more below
Fighting your traffic ticket means going before a judge with the police officer who pulled you over and presenting a case to prove your innocence.
Most often, this involves:
- Forfeiting any possibility of pleading outright to lesser charges.
- Presenting testimony, evidence, and sometimes witnesses.
- Allowing an attorney to represent you.
- Allowing the officer who pulled you over to present his case, too.
- Having your attorney cross-examine the officer.
Pleading Guilty or No Contest
Typically, you can pay your ticket fine outright if you plead guilty, and avoid the hassle and additional costs associated with fighting your ticket in court. Naturally, this depends on the violation.
Learn more about paying your traffic ticket before deciding whether to pay or fight.
Avoid Additional Charges
Most traffic tickets provide information about how much time you have to respond to (pay) the ticket or a hearing date. Typically, if you don’t respond within that amount of time, a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest.
Locate the Court
Typically, PA traffic tickets include information about which court will handle your ticket; it may or may not also include contact information for that court. Check your county’s website to find your court’s address and other contact information.
Misplaced your ticket? Refer to our section on replacing lost traffic tickets.
Inform the Court
Generally, you must inform the court in person if you plan to plead not guilty. Some courts may allow drivers to inform them online, by mail, or over the phone, but most require in person visits.
Once you inform the court, you must post collateral. In most cases, this includes the Pennsylvania traffic ticket fine plus any costs and surcharges associated with the court. Under normal circumstances, these additional costs and surcharges are set by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) and keep things uniform throughout the state. Most courts accept cash, checks, money orders, and credit cards as acceptable collateral payment.
If you can’t afford to post collateral, you can appear in person at the court to request a waiver of reduction.
Once they’ve decided to plead not guilty and fight their traffic tickets in court, some drivers feel more comfortable with an experienced traffic ticket attorney on their side.
Rescheduling or Postponing Your Hearing
You can request a continuance of your hearing in writing or in person at the applicable court at least one day prior to the original hearing date. You can only do this once, and if you miss either hearing date (the original or the rescheduled), the court will go on without you and notify you of the verdict.
Once you know your court date―and before you start preparing for your case―consider hiring a traffic ticket attorney. An attorney experienced with PA's traffic laws can help you get the best outcome possible.
Typically, court dates are printed on the tickets. If you can’t find your court date, contact the court handling your ticket; if you can’t find your ticket, head over to our Lost Traffic Ticket section to learn how to retrieve the information.
Generally, you’ll be able to provide evidence and witnesses to make your case, so now’s the time to gather that information and talk with those people. You might even practice your own testimony, should you decide to testify in your defense.
It’s much easier to prepare for a traffic court case with the help of a traffic ticket attorney who already knows what to expect.
Your traffic court hearing will resemble most other hearings. The judge will:
- Listen to testimony from both you and the police officer who cited you. Of course, your traffic ticket attorney can speak on your behalf.
- Look at evidence you and the officer present.
- Listen to witnesses testimonies.
The judge will make a judgment once he or she has heard all testimonies and seen all evidence. If the judge finds you not guilty, you can go on about your day (though you will most likely have to pay court costs and your attorney’s fees). If the judge finds you guilty, though, you’ll have to pay your traffic ticket fines and penalties.
Filing an Appeal
The traffic court’s verdict is final within that court; however, you can file an appeal with the Court of Common Pleas.
In Pennsylvania, there are only two ways to remove points from your driving record: pass a PennDOT-ordered written or on-road exam (which removes two) and stay violation-free for 12-consecutive months (which removes 3 points).
Given that, it’s doubly important to make sure your driving record reflects the accurate number of points.
Once your case is settled, check your driving record to make sure:
- No points were added, if you were found not guilty.
- Only the appropriate number of points were added, if you were found guilty.
- You’re not too close to the six-point limit.
Refer to our section on the PA point system to learn more.
If you lose your case in court, i.e. receive a guilty verdict, chances are your auto insurance rates will increase.
Talk with your insurance provider about this possibility. If it turns out you’re looking at a rate hike the next time you renew, start comparing insurance quotes online to get a better deal.Other Topics in This Section