Q: I have a NY driver’s license from when I was in the Army. I was wondering if I could drive legally in PA with the NY driver’s license. Also, I got my DUI back in 2014. I have now heard that a warrant is required to take blood from DUI perpetrators. They didn’t have a warrant for my blood, so can I fight it? My license in PA is to be suspended for 18 months. I have completed 14 months out of the 18, is there any way I can get my license back earlier? (Carnegie, PA)
A: If a PA driver’s license suspension is in effect, the notice of suspension will be sent from PennDOT to the NY Department of Motor Vehicles. Most states are signatories to an interstate compact act and have reciprocity with driver’s licensing matters. You can probably call the NY State DMV to be certain. As far as the requirement of police to obtain a search warrant to obtain blood from a hospital, Birchfield v. North Dakota was a 2016 case and therefore does not apply retroactively to 2014. As far as getting your license back early, it is doubtful, but you can file for an Occupational Limited License on the PennDOT website. My question is why in 2017 are you still under suspension? You may want to get a Restoration Requirements letter and your driving record from PennDOT. You may also want to call the Clerk of Courts to see if there is any probation condition you have not fulfilled to make yourself eligible to restore.
Q: There was construction leading to a highway coming home from work. They just recently put up a stop sign on the road where the construction was being completed on, as you merge onto the highway. I stopped at the sign and didn’t see anyone over on the freeway. I merged over to the highway quickly and hear someone honking. I look back and I assume the guy behind me had to hit the breaks to avoid me merging in the lane. We did not collide and didn’t come close. However, the woman in the car behind him must have been tailgating and slammed on the breaks and to avoid hitting the guy behind me, she steers right and drives into the lane that is blocked by traffic barriers. She hit an orange/white construction road barrier and quickly got out of her car and was giving me the finger. I don’t think much damage was done and can’t imagine anyone was hurt. I was going to pull over but there was no place to do so since the road next to me was blocked by construction barriers. I made the next exit turned around, got stuck in traffic before I could get back to the accident. By the time I got back, she was gone. I’m not totally sure if it was my fault. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Section 3744 of the PA Motor Vehicle Code requires a driver of a vehicle which causes damage to another vehicle or property to give, at a minimum, his or her name, address and registration number of his vehicle. If that is not possible the statute requires the driver to forthwith report the incident to the nearest police department. My advice would be to report it to the local police department where this occurred or to the state police as soon as possible. Get a record of your report from the police if you can and keep it. There is a risk that you could be cited with a Motor Vehicle Code summary violation if someone took your license plate number. Also, you may want to report this to your motor vehicle insurance carrier. If you receive a call from the police do not offer to speak to them and call an attorney.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.