1. Your Pennsylvania Driver's License is more important than you think
Pennsylvania Courts have held that the continued possession of a driver's license is essential in the pursuit of a livelihood. Your driver's license is a Privilege granted by Pennsylvania, Not a Right. Maintaining a clean driving record is vital for a variety of life situations. Lower car insurance premiums, employment, professional licenses, job applications, health care emergencies, life insurance, loans, etc.
2. PennDOT records contain errors
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is solely responsible for maintaining the driving record of every motorist in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In maintaining millions of records, errors are not uncommon. By far, the most common error is an incorrect address. Pennsylvania Law places the burden on the driver to ensure that his/her address is correct. Every driver should know what their record contains, and immediately correct any inaccuracies. Obtaining and Reviewing your record is an inexpensive process, and more information can be found on our Resource Page.
3. Out of State Convictions will NOT appear on your Driving Record
The Pennsylvania Driver Manual states that "although reported to PennDOT, minor out-of-state traffic offenses, such as speeding, will NOT appear on your driving record and Points will NOT be assessed". There are 2 important exceptions: 1) Failing to Respond to an out-of-state citation will result in an indefinite suspension, and deny renewing your license, and 2) the Interstate Compact Offenses (DUI, Homicide by vehicle, Leaving an accident, and certain felonies) will result in a suspension as if the offense occurred in Pennsylvania.
4. Reduce Points and Reduce Fines
Insurance companies base premiums on the number of convictions and points on your license. Your insurance company's declaration page is an excellent resource to find the increased surcharges for convictions and points. Police frequently negotiate tickets for reduced points and fines. Hiring a lawyer can increase the odds that an officer will reduce your ticket. An accumulation of 6 points will result in a departmental hearing and/or suspension. Points are removed at a rate of 3 points for every 12 months of safe driving without a citation.
5. Know WHY you're Suspended
Most people do not know the reason why PennDOT has suspended their license. The most common reason is failing to respond to a citation; either by failing to notify the court of your plea, or failing to follow the payment plan. Sometimes, the local court fails to notify PennDOT that a driver has responded to a citation. Your license will remain suspended until PennDOT has received notice from the court of your response. Always make sure PennDOT has an accurate driving record, and immediately correct any errors.
6. Even if you're Suspended, you can get a Driver License
PennDOT has several types of licenses available for drivers who are suspended. These licenses allow you to work, provide for your family, and perform necessary life functions. You may be immediately eligible for an Occupational Limited License (OLL). Even if your license is suspended for years, you may be eligible for a Probationary License (PL). Contact a lawyer to review your record for eligibility.
7. Get Proper Credit toward your Suspensions
A common error arises when a driver loses their license, fails to submit their license to PennDOT, or an officer takes their license during a traffic stop; and then mistakenly believes that they are receiving credit towards a suspension. PennDOT does not begin credit towards any suspension unless a driver submits his actual license (and any permits) OR submits an Affidavit acknowledging the suspension (DL16 form). If you have not been receiving credit, you can petition PennDOT for an administrative hearing to review your credit record.
8. PennDOT decisions are NOT final
Never accept a Suspension letter or restoration letter as a final decision without consulting an attorney. Virtually all PennDOT decisions can be appealed. If PennDOT suspends your license, an appeal of that suspension may be possible. If you disagree with a decision, PennDOT permits administrative hearings in Harrisburg concerning disputes over your license status. Always consult an attorney.
9. Never Refuse a Chemical Test
The penalty for refusing an officer's request for a chemical test during a DUI investigation is a 1 year suspension of your license. Often, the refusal can be more devastating to a driver than the arrest and conviction or diversionary program (ARD) for DUI, especially if the driver has no prior criminal record. Under Pennsylvania law, anything short of an express assent to submit to a chemical test is considered a refusal. If you are a Pennsylvania driver stopped for suspicion of DUI, never refuse a chemical test.
10. Old Convictions can be REMOVED
You have 30 days to appeal any decision made by a district court. However under certain circumstances, prior convictions past the 30 day deadline can be reopened and negotiated to a lesser offense. If you are still suffering the effects of a traffic conviction or failed to understand the consequences of pleading guilty to an offense, contact an attorney to decide whether that conviction can be reopened.
Our areas of practice include Criminal Defense, DUI, Drunk Driving, Drug Offenses, Sex Crimes, Robbery, Theft Offenses, Retail Theft, Criminal Litigation, Trial Lawyer, Traffic Offenses, Expungements, Juvenile Law, Personal Injury, Family Law, Civil Litigation, and all Felonies and Misdemeanors.
Our Attorneys practice in Bucks County, Montgomery County, and the Philadelphia Area, including: Bristol (19007), Levittown (19054, 19055, 19056), Morrisville (19067), Croydon (19021), Falls Township (19030), Bensalem (19020), Warminster (18974), Yardley (19067), Doylestown (18901), Newtown (18940), Richboro (18954), Langhorne (19047), Middletown (19047), Warwick (18976), and throughout the Five County Philadelphia Area