What happens when you speed in Pennsylvania?
Short answer: you get there faster.
Long Answer: you might get there slower (if you get busted).
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation – or “PENNDOT” – is known for its painstakingly detailed maintenance of drivers’ handling of their vehicles. It isn’t just that reckless speed demons are removed from the roads when such a penalty is due; there are also counsel-based systems in place that keep records of ordinary folks’ mistakes and areas of improvement in order to effectively monitor what works and what doesn’t in terms of ensuring motor vehicle safety for everyone. It isn’t exactly difficult to get your license suspended in Pennsylvania. But with a strong grasp of the law and access to good legal help, you should be able to avoid it.
The Six-Point Threshold
Basically, a driver is in the green so long as they have had less than six points added to their license. In Pennsylvania, the accumulation of petty driving points works as it does in many other states. The number of points tacked on varies according to your action’s threat to overall safety:
- 2 for ignoring a crosswalk or violating the terms you agreed to as stated on your license, like wearing glasses;
- 3 for improper passing or reckless driving;
- 4 for failing to stop at a closed or closing railroad gate.
Once you hit 6 total points, you are required to adhere to structured communication with the state regarding your understanding of traffic law. The specific steps you’ll need to take depend on your criminal history on the road thus far.
First time with 6 points? You will have to take a written exam
If this is your first 6-point accumulation, you will be given one month to take a written point system exam that assesses your grasp of three major concepts:
- knowledge of safe driving practices,
- knowledge of departmental sanctions (or, the penalty-based rules and reasons for governing improper driving), and
- knowledge of safety-related issues.
YOU MUST TAKE THIS EXAM WITHIN 30 DAYS OR YOUR LICENSE WILL BE SUSPENDED. Until this exam is taken – and passed – you will not be allowed to keep your license. The good news for most law-abiding citizens is that 2 congratulatory points will be removed from your record if you pass the exam within 30 days of receiving the order to do so.
Second time with 6 points? You will have to talk to a PENNDOT official
Upon one’s second accumulation of 6 points, something called a departmental hearing will be in order. It’s essentially a conversation between you and a PENNDOT official who reviews your record and makes a recommendation of sanction based on your crime. Depending on the severity of your violation history, you could either have your license suspended (for up to 15 days) or be ordered to take an on-road exam.
Upon successful fulfillment of either one of these penalties, you’ll have 2 points removed from your license. In the event that you’re able to weasel your way out of any punishment at all, you’ll be free to go, but have no ability to decrease the number of points on your license. A hearing is required upon one’s third accumulation as well – but in this case, the examiner only determines whether they will issue a 30-day suspension.
Anytime you are issued a suspension of your driver’s license in the state of Pennsylvania, you are permitted to appeal. Keep in mind, however, that this appeal must be made within 30 days of receiving your PENNDOT-issued written notice which states when the suspension is set to begin. If you think you want to appeal, it’s recommended that you hire a lawyer as they will be better equipped to prepare your case in a timely fashion. Most positive scenarios allow you to reach a plea deal, resulting in a fine rather than any time spent with a revoked license.
Heftier Charges and Automatic Suspensions
In Pennsylvania, driving 31 miles per hour or more over the posted limit is considered excessive speeding, and will result in a departmental hearing and an automatic 5 points added to your license. No neutral outcome is possible in such a scenario; the examiner will issue either a 15-day license suspension, an on-road driver’s exam, or both. In the case that a suspension is issued and successfully completed, the violator’s overall point total will be set at 5. (No “award” is given if an on-road exam is completed.)
The accumulation of 11 points or more on one’s license results in automatic suspension. Depending on your suspension history, the number of days you’ll be faced with will vary:
- 5 days per point for your first suspension,
- 10 per point on your second, and
- 15 per point for your third.
Any further suspensions concerning an 11-point breach can result in a complete license suspension lasting up to one year. On the bright side, driving safely in Pennsylvania is given considerable compensation: For every 12 consecutive months you drive with no moving violations, 3 points are removed from your license. Once you hit zero, any future point accumulation is treated as your first reception of points.
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