As most Pennsylvania drivers know, the Commonwealth maintains a “point system” of driver “education” which assigns penalty points for various Vehicle Code violations. An initial accumulation of 6 points qualifies you for driving school and a special examination. Failure to attend and successfully complete the school results in a 60-day license suspension. If you pass the examination 2 penalty points are removed from your record. A second accumulation of 6 points (i.e., your record goes back up to six points or more before being reduced to zero) gets you a departmental hearing which can result in another trip to driving school, having to re-take the driver licensing examination, and/or a 15-day suspension.
Some motor vehicle infractions are deemed so serious that they either carry automatic license suspensions and/or heavy penalty points. Some of the more serious offenses include:
- Passing school bus w/flashing red lights 5 points and 60-day suspension
- Violation of crossing gate or barrier 4 points and 30-day suspension
- Second offense school zone speed limit violation 3 points and 60-day suspension
- Active work zone/speeding accident 2 points and 15-day suspension
- Active work zone/11 M.P.H. over limit 3 points and 15-day suspension
- 31 M.P.H. over limit 5 points and departmental hearing
As we can see, many of the serious offenses can result in automatic license suspension. However, even routine traffic offenses can result in a license suspension if they are accumulated over a short period of time. Many of the common offenses, such as failing to stop for a red light, improper passing, following too closely, failing to stop for a stop sign or improper turning result in the assignment of 3 points to your record. Most of the speeding offenses carry penalties between 2 and 5 points depending upon your actual speed over the posted limit. Two of these common offenses within 12 months will quickly take your record to 6 points and qualify you for a trip to driving school.
Because of the serious consequences which can follow even routine traffic violations, we encourage our clients to take these matters seriously. In many cases it is possible for a qualified attorney to successfully defend such charges, or have the penalties reduced or eliminated. Even first offenses should be taken seriously, because if they are not handled properly they can lay the ground work for rather serious second offense penalties due to the rapid accumulation of points on your record. Every citation should be challenged if there is a reasonable basis to do so.
Call us if we can help you in this area.
– Kevin Palmer