Traffic Ticket FAQ in Pennsylvania
What do I do if I get a traffic ticket in PA?
Decide whether to plead guilty or not guilty, and go from there.
Generally, pleading guilty means you'll pay a fine and any related surcharges (as well as face increases to your driving record points and auto insurance rates); pleading not guilty means you'll have a hearing to present your case before a judge. Most people hire traffic ticket attorneys to help them in these situations.
How can I get a traffic ticket dismissed?
The two most common ways to get a traffic ticket dismissed is to:
- Show proof that you weren't violating (or completely violating) the law. (For example, if you were pulled over for speeding and the officer discovered you don't have proof of insurance, he might drop that ticket if you provide proof within a certain number of days.)
- Contest the ticket in court and receive a judgment of not guilty. Traffic ticket attorneys can help you do this.
Consider the nature of your ticket, and then speak with the court or an attorney about any dismissal possibilities.
What if I have a Pennsylvania CDL and get a traffic ticket?
You'll handle the traffic ticket (plead guilty or not guilty) in the same basic way as someone with a regular driver's license; however, you'll also:
- Need to notify your employer after receiving the ticket.
- Notify PennDOT after receiving an out-of-state ticket.
- Face much steeper penalties than just higher insurance rates and driving record points.
- You accumulate 6 points on your driving record.
- You're cited for driving 26 MPH or more over the posted speed limit.
Check our section on Ticket Fines & Penalties for more details.
What if I am a minor and get a traffic ticket?
Basically, you'll pay or plead not guilty in the same way an adult driver would; however, you're at a greater risk for license suspension due to driving record points.
You see, adult drivers who reach 6 points on their driving records have options like taking written and on-road exams; you don't. If you reach 6 points, you face a mandatory license suspension of 90 days.
So, as long as your ticket doesn't push you to or over the mark of 6 points, you'll just pay or plead guilty; if it does, your license will be suspended for 90 days. Learn more on our Traffic Ticket Fines and Penalties page.
NOTE: If you were cited for driving 26 MPH over the posted speed limit, your license will be suspended for 90 days.
Check out Pennsylvania's How to Steer Them to Safe Driving for more details.
What are the penalties for getting a traffic ticket while driving with a learner's permit?
The same as the penalties for any driver younger than 18 years old.
Your license will be suspended for 90 days if:
Otherwise, you'll pay or plead not guilty like any other driver.
Will taking a motorcycle safety course help me with a traffic ticket I got while riding?
No. Just as safety courses for other drivers won't reduce points (see below), neither will safety courses for motorcyclists.
Can I take a defensive driving course to reduce the number of driver's license points on my driving record?
Although Pennsylvania drivers can enroll in defensive driving courses to sharpen their skills (and in some cases, are court-ordered to do so), these courses aren't options for reducing driving record points.
The only way you can reduce points in this state are to:
- Pass a PennDOT-ordered written or on-road exam because you've accumulated 6 or more points (this removes 2 points).
- Stay violation-free for 12 consecutive months (this removes 3 points).
Learn more at our Defensive Driving section.
Why is it a good idea to order a driving record?
Because there are only two ways to reduce points in Pennsylvania―be forced to, or keep a clean driving record―ordering and monitoring a driving record is especially important for Pennsylvania drivers.
Having a copy of your driving record means:
- You can keep a watch on your points number; if it's close to the excessive point mark, you can be extra cautious to stay violation-free.
- Making sure you didn't receive any points for a not guilty verdict.
- Making sure you received the correct number of points for a guilty verdict.
Learn more about obtaining PA driving records.
What is the cost of my traffic ticket?
Traffic ticket fines vary by offense; check your citation for the exact cost or contact the court.
Note that most people also pay court costs and other surcharges related to their tickets. Generally, the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) set these amounts and they're uniform costs throughout the state.
How many points will I get if convicted?
Points vary by violation, and range from 2 to 5. You could receive 2 points for failing to obey someone directing traffic, or 5 points for failing to stop for a school bus with flashing red lights.
Note that if you receive multiple violation during a traffic stop, and are convicted of each of them, you could rack up enough points to warrant a PennDOT-ordered written or on-road exam.
Learn more about the PA point system.
Are traffic ticket fines the same throughout the state?
Under normal circumstances, yes. A traffic ticket for a particular charge in Pittsburgh will cost the same as a traffic ticket for the same charge in Philadelphia.
Usually, additional court costs and surcharges cost the same throughout the state, too, thanks to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC).
How can I find a lost traffic ticket online?
Unfortunately, you probably can't.
Some county websites (and city websites, such as Philadelphia’s Traffic Court website) might allow you to search for citation-related information, such as the hearing date, but most people will need to make a phone call to their local court or PennDOT location to track down a ticket.
Learn more at our Lost Traffic Ticket section.
When is it a good idea to hire a traffic ticket attorney?
Usually, a driver hires a traffic ticket attorney whenever he or she feels uncomfortable or unprepared to represent him or herself in traffic court. Experienced attorneys can help innocent drivers get the not guilty verdicts they're seeking; sometimes, attorneys can even help get charges lowered or dismissed altogether.
Attorneys often accompany drivers who've been charged with serious offenses, such as those involving drugs, alcohol, or physical injury or death.
How many driving record points can I accumulate before the state suspends my driver's license?
If you accumulate 11 or more points, your license is automatically suspended for a length of time that depends on both the number of points and the number of suspensions you have in the past.
If you accumulate 6 points, your license can be suspended if:
- It's your first accumulation of 6 points and you don't pass the PennDOT-ordered written exam within 30 days of receiving the exam notice.
- You accumulate 6 points on your record a second or third time. Both of these instances are subject to a hearing.