Traffic Safety Laws in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has various safety laws in place to keep you safe on the road. Safety laws cover a range of topics, including child safety seats, using cell phones while driving, and DUIs and drunk driving.

Child Car Seat Laws in Pennsylvania

Use of proper child car seats is important for your child's safety. Pennsylvania law requires you to have your child in an appropriate car seat, or you risk a $75 fine.

Follow these guidelines when buying a car seat for your child:

  • Children under 2 years old Must be in a rear-facing car seat until they exceed the manufacturer's maximum weight and height limits.
  • Children under 4 years old: Use a federally approved child car seat, appropriate for the height and weight of your child.
  • 4 to 8 years old: Use a booster seat until your child reaches the height and weight maximum.

Make sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation and height/weight restrictions for your car seat.

What are the Pennsylvania Seat Belt Laws?

In the state of PA, if you are driving or sitting in the front seat of a car, you must wear your seat belt.

If you are driving with anyone under 8 to 18 years old in the vehicle, they must wear a seat belt at all times both in the front and back seat. Failure to do so is considered a primary offense, and as the driver, you could face the following fines:

  • Passengers 4 to 8 years old: $75 fine* plus court fees.
  • Passengers 8 to 18 years old: $10 fine* plus court fees.

NOTE: Seat belt violations also carry the following fees:

  • $10 EMS Fund fee.
  • $10 administrative fee. 
  • $45 surcharge

Looking for an easy way to pay your ticket? Learn more about paying your Pennsylvania traffic ticket online.

Electronic Devices and Driving Laws in Pennsylvania

Using an electronic device while driving can be very dangerous. It is illegal in Pennsylvania to use an electronic device while driving to send or receive texts, emails, or messages of any kind.

If you are caught using your mobile device for any of the above purposes, the PA Department of Transportation will issue you a $50 fine.

It is not illegal to make phone calls while driving. However, if you must make or receive a call while driving, you should:

  • Pull off the road whenever possible.
  • Use a hands-free device.
  • Never participate in emotionally heated conversations.

Pennsylvania Helmet Laws

Motorcycle Helmet Laws

You must wear a motorcycle helmet in Pennsylvania, UNLESS you are 21 years old or older and have either:

If you are caught riding a motorcycle without your helmet, you will be fined $25.

Helmet Specifications

Your helmet must be DOT-approved, and must always have the DOT sticker on the back outer shell of the helmet.

Additionally, your helmet must be labeled with the following information:

  • Name or ID of the manufacturer.
  • Model name and number.
  • Size.
  • Month and year of manufacture.

Bicycle Helmet Laws

All children under 12 years old must wear a helmet while riding a bicycle or while being towed in a trailer by a bicycle. If your child is caught riding a bike without a helmet, you will receive a $25 fine.

You can have your fine waived if you can show proof of purchase of a helmet before your court date.

While it is not required for everyone to wear a helmet in Pennsylvania, the PennDOT strongly recommends you wear an approved helmet at all times while riding a bike.

DUI Laws in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, you can be found guilty of driving under the influence if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is over the legal limit of .08%.You can face the following charges on your first offense:

  • Misdemeanor charge.
  • Up to 6 months probation.
  • Fine of $300.
  • Attendance at an alcohol safety school.
  • Treatment for alcohol abuse.

Subsequent offenses will result in heavier penalties, as will higher levels of BAC.

If you are under 21 years old and have a BAC of .02% or higher, you can be charged with drunk driving. If caught, you can be charged the following for your first offense:

  • Up to 48 hours imprisonment.
  • $500–$5,000 fine.
  • Attendance at an alcohol safety school.
  • Drug and alcohol treatment.

For more information about DUI penalties in Pennsylvania, visit our page on PA DUI & DWI laws.

Reporting Drunk Drivers

If you suspect someone of driving drunk, dial 911 and report them immediately.

Some signs of drunk driving can be (but are not limited to):

  • Excessive speeding or slowing.
  • Swerving across the road.
  • Drifting into wrong lanes.

Pennsylvania Headlight Laws

Proper use of headlights keeps the road ahead of you clear and easy to see, keeping you and your passengers safe. In Pennsylvania, you must have a headlight system that features both low and high beams.

Your headlights must be on:

  • Between sunset and sunrise.
  • Anytime you cannot see a person or car from 1,000 feet.
  • Anytime you have your windshield wipers on due to the weather.

If you are cited for violating a headlight law, you may pay up to $100 in fines and fees

Motorcycle Headlights

Pennsylvania law requires you to have your motorcycle headlight on at all times. Having your headlights on during the day helps increase your visibility to other vehicles on the road.

Bicycle Headlights

Your bicycle must have a front-facing white light, which must be turned on between sunset and sunrise and can be seen from at least 500 feet.

You also must have a rear-facing red reflector visible from 500 feet.

PA Unattended Children in Vehicles

You may not leave a child alone in your car for any amount of time if your vehicle is not within sight and if the child's health, safety and welfare are in danger. If you violate this law, you can be fined $25.

Leaving your child unattended in your vehicle puts your child in a great amount of risk. If your child is left alone in a car even for a few minutes in excessive heat or cold, it could endanger their health.

DMV.ORG BBB Business Review