Category Archives: Motor Vehicle Law

What can I do about this parking citation?

Q: I received a Citation/Summons today left on my car windshield for an apparent parking violation while I was at work. In line #26 the “Statute” option is checked, and PAVC is written in the line. #29 “Fine” 50 written, line #32 “Costs” has 38.50 written, and Line #33 has 10.00 written. Line #34 “Total Due” has 98.50 written. The Defendant Name is not mine, nor is the Defendant Address. The Vehicle Registration Number in line #11, the make in line #14, and the color in line #16 indicate my car. My car was parked directly outside of my apartment, with two wheels on the line of ground between the sidewalk and the curb. The whole street parks in this same manner, as the street is not large enough to allow traffic otherwise. This is not an exaggeration, I have a picture showing every single vehicle in front of and behind mine parking in this manner. Even with cars parked this way, traffic is to slow when two vehicles approach each other because of how narrow the street is. It is a two-lane street with buses and large semi-trucks operating on it day and night. The car behind mine had two wheels parked in the middle of the sidewalk, farther on it than my car. I saw no citation on theirs.

A: Plead not guilty and take your photos to court and fight it. You can hire an attorney as well but the legal fees may not be justified economically given the penalty you will be subject to if you should lose.

Can I fight an obedience to traffic control devices ticket for speeding?

Q: 71-mph in a 45-mph zone. There is no information on the citation regarding any speed timing device that was used to calculate my speed.

A:  You can always fight a traffic ticket. The issue is whether it is worth the time, effort and money balanced against your chance of winning. A lawyer would need to know more facts to give a thorough opinion, so I suggest you consult with one. My question is, if you were only cited with failure to obey a traffic control device, (red light, yield sign, whatever) which carries no points or license suspension and a small fine, why would you fight it? If you truly believe you are innocent, have a good driving record and some sort of plausible defense, plead not guilty, go to the hearing and tell your side of the story to the judge.

Will these traffic offenses show up on FBI background check?

Q: I have recently been charged with “Careless Driving” and “No Passing Zone”. This is the first time ever I have been guilty of anything. I was never drunk, nor arrested or fingerprinted or anything. The fine came in the mail because at the time cop pulled me over, I couldn’t find my registration. Anyhow, I am a medical student so I was wondering if it would show up on FBI background checks? Would it hinder my employment? This happened in the state of PA.

A: Most traffic offenses, such as these two, are not considered criminal offenses in PA. They will not show up on a criminal record check with the PA State Police. They will show up on a PA driver’s record, but again, they are not crimes. Please be aware that some no passing zone type offenses carry a driver’s license suspension that is not listed on your ticket, and is a separate matter handled administratively by PennDOT. Many times the unsuspecting motorist pleads guilty by mail and sends his or her money in, only to learn weeks later that PennDOT suspended his or her license. I would check to make sure this “No Passing Zone” offense does not involve school zones, school buses, construction sites, and other situations that may trigger such suspension. You should consult with a lawyer about the specific statute citation for which you are charged.

 

Can I get PennDOT to grant me concurrent driver license suspensions?

Q: Is it possible to get my consecutive suspensions to run concurrently? My license is suspended and I am reviewing my restoration requirements. I have 4 charges of driving on a suspended license, producing 4 suspensions of 1 year each. Plus, a drug delivery charge yielding a 6-month suspension.  I have already served a year in jail and 6 months on probation, but can hardly imagine my future if I must wait 4.5 years to be allowed to have a license again. Is there any chance that some action I could take, or with representation that is affordable, I could somehow get this significantly reduced, perhaps so that my consecutive 1 year suspensions could run concurrently?

A: PennDOT does not run driver’s license suspensions concurrently and the court has no authority to do so as it an administrative procedure. You may be eligible for an Occupational Limited License if the suspensions are not DUI or drug related. The PennDOT website has information on the OLL procedures.

Can I use a public defender to for an issue with reinstating my license ?

Q: My license has been suspended for until 2017, one year for not responding to a letter regarding my fine, and another year from years ago. (Bridgeville, PA). Can I get a public defender to help me?

A: No, at least not in Allegheny County. As mentioned a driver’s license suspension is actually an administrative punishment from PennDOT, separate from any underlying criminal case. Traditionally, the PD is to be appointed to represent a defendant at the critical stages of criminal prosecution to ensure due process and to protect constitutional rights. A driver’s license suspension is not considered to be a criminal matter evoking due process and constitutional rights. Your best bet is to do the background work yourself. Contact PennDOT and obtain a restoration letter and a copy of your driver’s record. These documents and if necessary, a call to PennDOT will help you understand what you need to do to restore your license. If not, then contact a lawyer who handles driver’s license issue.

Can I let unlicensed driver drive my car?

Q: Car and insurance in my name being driven to work by someone without a valid license. What happens to me if he gets pulled over? He is in process of getting his license back, the title and insurance are in my name. Will only he get in trouble if caught, or will I also get in trouble?

A: In PA, if you have knowledge that a person has no driver’s license-whether suspended or they just don’t have one, and you allow them to operate your motor vehicle, you can be charged with a summary motor vehicle offense. In addition, read your insurance policy to make sure your carrier will not deny coverage if such person is involved in an accident while driving your car with your consent.

My eighth suspended license offense

Q: I was caught driving on a suspended license for the 8th time. This time in Dauphin County. I live in Westmoreland. Can I appeal the sentencing? I missed my court date with the district justice office and got 6 months county prison time. I have appealed it, but was wondering what my chances are of getting the sentence changed to something other than prison time. I know of people who have been caught 15 times or more and did no jail time.

A:  I cannot tell if this a Motor Vehicle Code 1543 (a) or (b) suspension. 1543 (b)’s are DUI related and carry additional penalties under the habitual offender statute. If you have appealed in a timely fashion, you may be able to receive a sentence of house arrest or electronic home monitoring. However, I am unfamiliar with the practices of the DA and courts In Dauphin County, so you will have to confirm this with a Dauphin County attorney. You may want to hire the attorney who  has kept your friend with 15 license suspension convictions out of jail. Be aware though, you may face problems in having Dauphin County transfer an electronic monitoring house arrest sentence to Allegheny County for supervision.

 

Can I let unlicensed driver drive my car?

Q: Car and insurance in my name being driven to work by someone without a valid license. What happens to me if he gets pulled over .He is in process of getting his license back, the title and insurance are in my name. Will only he get in trouble if caught, or will I also get in trouble?

A: In PA, if you have knowledge that a person has no driver’s license-whether suspended or they just don’t have one, and you allow them to operate your motor vehicle, you can be charged with a summary motor vehicle offense. I have seen it happen. In addition, read your insurance policy to make sure your carrier will not deny coverage if such person is involved in an accident.

Does there have to be video evidence in a traffic stop?

Q: I let my friend use my jeep and he does not have a license. He and a licensed driver switched seats before the police were able to get behind the jeep. The officer says he saw the switch. There is no video evidence it. It is two people’s word against the police officer. Is there any hope of fighting the ticket and winning?

A: In most states there does not have to be video in order for probable cause to be supported or an arrest to be legal. Some progressive departments routinely use it and I understand even a few have a policy in place. Unless this police department routinely uses video in traffic stops or has a policy to do so, and for some unexplained reason, this officer did not use the camera, the officer’s word may likely be believed over your friends, by a judge or jury. However, if your attorney can establish other evidence through skillful cross examination, for example, the officer wasn’t in position to make the observation, there are discrepancies in the police report, etc., who knows, your friend may be able to establish reasonable doubt.  He should review this situation with an attorney. One thing you need to be aware of is that you can be cited for lending an automobile to someone who you know does not have a valid license. You therefore should not make any statements to the police.