Fight Traffic Ticket in Pennsylvania

SUMMARY: How to Fight a Pennsylvania Traffic Ticket

To fight your traffic ticket in Pennsylvania, you must submit a not guilty plea. For specific information about your particular traffic ticket, you'll need to contact the appropriate traffic court directly, or the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT) directly.

Fight a Traffic Ticket in Pennsylvania

Pay Ticket
(Plead Guilty)

  • 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 »

Fight 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).

What It Means to Contest Your PA Traffic Ticket

Fighting your PA 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 their case, too.
  • Having your attorney cross-examine the officer.

Pleading Guilty or No Contest

Typically, you can pay your traffic 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 the traffic ticket (pay or fight). Typically, if you don't respond within that amount of time, a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest.

Notify the Traffic Court

Locate your Pennsylvania Court

Typically, PA traffic tickets include information about which traffic court will handle your ticket; it may or may not also include contact information for that court. Check your Pennsylvania county's website to find your court's address and other contact information. Misplaced your traffic 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 you to notify them online, by mail, or by phone, but most require a visit in person.

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. Contact your Pennsylvania traffic court to verify.

NOTE: 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 generally request a continuance of your hearing in writing or in person at the applicable PA traffic court. Be sure to handle this promptly as your court may only accept continuances submitted within a specific time frame. You can only do this once. If you miss either hearing date (the original or the rescheduled), the court will go on without you and notify you of the verdict.

Hire a Traffic Ticket Attorney in PA

Once you know your court date―and before you start preparing for your case―consider hiring a PA traffic ticket attorney. An attorney experienced with Pennsylvania traffic laws can help you get the best outcome possible.

Prepare Your Case

Typically, court dates are printed on the tickets. If you can't find your court date, contact the PA traffic 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.

In Pennsylvania, 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.

Plead Your Case Before a Judge or Jury

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 in Pennsylvania

The traffic court's verdict is final within that court; however, you can file an appeal with the Court of Common Pleas.

Check Your Driving Record

In Pennsylvania, there are only a couple different ways to remove points from your driving record; pass a written or on-road exam (which removes 2 points) and stay violation-free for 12 months consecutively (which removes 3 points).

NOTE: Make sure your PA 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 limit or 6 points.

Refer to our section on the PA point system to learn more.

Shop for Better Auto Insurance Rates

In Pennsylvania, if you lose your case in traffic 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.

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