Brought to you by Legal Help (1) What are absolute speed limits in this state?

There are two different kinds of speed limits in Pennsylvania. They are absolute speed limits and presumed speed limits. It is important to note that while the names of the speed limits may be different the result of a violation is the same. There is no different ticket for a absolute violation or a presumed violation—you will get the same ticket, and the same fine, either way. Absolute speed limits are the speed that is posted on the speed limit sign. As the name would imply this speed limit is very firm with no flexibility whatsoever. If a driver is driving over the posted speed limit this would be a strict liability offence that will result in a speeding ticket. Strict liability offense means that, even if it was by accident, the driver will be held liable for the speeding violation. There is no element of a speeding ticket that requiring that the driver know they were speeding or that the driver was speeding on purpose. Essentially, that if a driver was driving along and was going one mile per hour over the posted speed limit they are in violation of the law and can get a speeding ticket. However, there are a few reasons or defenses that can be made once a speeding ticket has been issued to the driver. These defenses are far from being considered a guarantee, they simply mean that the court may lessen the speeding ticket or eliminate it after the court proceedings. The information on the hearing can be found on the back of the ticket. Always read the back of the ticket carefully. Here, it will inform the driver who they can raise these defense. There are lawyers who can go to these hearings and help with the defense of the speeding ticket. However, it is not necessary to have a lawyer at these proceedings, but the lawyer will be more acquainted with the process and have a better chance at making the right defense. In Pennsylvania you will never see a speed limit above 65 miles per hour. This speed limit is only used on roads with limited access like thruways, highways, interstates or other similar roads. The maximum speed limit for any other road, bridge, or non-restricted access roads is only 55 miles per hour. This is because of the unlimited access of the roadway. This is the highest speed limit that the Pennsylvania Department of transportation has determined that is safe for cars to travel at on these roads. (2) What are presumed speed limits in this state? The second type of speeding violation is when a drive is in excess of the presumed speed limit. Needless to say this is substantially more subjective then the absolute speed limit. A presumed speed limit is one that is relative to the condition of the road at the time that the driver is given a ticket. Pennsylvania’s presumed speed limit law reads as follows, “No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to he actual and potential hazards then existing.” This means that a driver can get a speeding ticket for driving down a county road a 55 miles per hour, and, on that very same country road hours later a car would not get a ticket for going 55 miles per hour. The most obvious example is in winter weather. With snow obstructing the visibility and making the roads slick the safe speed limit would be

substantially lower than that same road in the summer time. Winter weather is not the only example. Other examples include: hazards on the roadway, rain storms, fog, sharp turns and this else that would cause a prudent driver to slow down. However, do not think that speeding tickets are only for going in excess of the speed limit. A driver can also receive a speeding ticket for traveling at a unsafe speed that is to slow. In these cases, a driver cannot drive “at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with the law.” The most common example is driving under 45 miles per hour on the thruway without flashers. Driving under a safe speed for that road way at that time would fall under the category of presumed speed limit. Here too there are defenses that can be made for a presumed speeding violation. . These defenses are far from being considered a guarantee, they simply mean that the court may lessen the speeding ticket or eliminate it after the court proceedings. The information on the hearing can be found on the back of the ticket. Always read the back of the ticket carefully. Here, it will inform the driver who they can raise these defense. There are lawyers who can go to these hearings and help with the defense of the speeding ticket. There are a few states that enforce different speed limits for the operators of commercial vehicles. This is not true for Pennsylvania. The designated speed limits are the same for all motorists on the road—even for the operators of commercial vehicles. (4) Provide a summary of the speeding laws in the state Speeding is whenever a car is traveling faster that is reasonably safe under the current road conditions. Generally, this is an absolute limit—the speed that is posted on the sign. But, sometimes it is presumed. This is like on a country road that has no speed limit sign or on a snowy winter day. The presumed speed limit is whatever is generally considered safe under those conditions. You can be convicted of speeding if: (1) The driver who is the defendant was actually the individual who was driving the car. Additionally, the driver accused was in fact driving the vehicle that was seen to be driving over the allowed speed limit. For example, that the officer pulled over the correct car and not one that looked similar but was going the proper speed. (2) The driver was going the speed that the officer claims they were. This would require that the radar or laser equipment was properly functioning, maintained and that the officer was trained in using this type of equipment. (3) The driver was driving over the speed limit. After being ticketed you can plead guilty and pay the fine, or plead not guilty and fight the ticket. The information on how to do this is on the back of the ticket. The state must prove that the driver has satisfied all three elements of speeding. The driver may try to raise a defense to speeding. Common defenses include: person ticketed was not the actual driver, vehicle alleged was not the actual vehicle that was speeding, the event occurred out of jurisdiction of the officer who gave the ticket, the driver was not driving at

the speed limit which law enforcement officer said they were driving, the reading was inaccurate due to the laser/ radar gun being shot at the wrong vehicle, the laser or Radar equipment was not properly maintained, the reading was inaccurate due to an obstruction or interference, or the law enforcement officer was either inexperienced or untrained in their application of the laser or radar system. Fines for a speeding ticket may increase in a construction zone or in a school zone. But, the fines and penalties are the same for everyone that is on the road. There is no special privileges or harsher penalties based on occupation. However, the amount of the fine that is to be paid by the driver will depend on how fast the driver was going at the time they were stopped by the police. If you are ticketed you may want to consider contacting a lawyer. There are lawyers who are experienced in these matters and can help get the penalties reduced or eliminated. (5) Who has the burden of proof in proving speeding? The burden of proof is the responsibility of the state. The burden of proof is the standard level of certainty that is required to support a verdict of guilty. In Pennsylvania the level of certainty that must be achieved to support a verdict is called reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt is tricky to define because it is subjective to each individual. However, it can be defined as a doubt that would cause a reasonably careful and sensible person to hesitate before acting upon a matter of importance in his or her own affairs. A reasonable doubt must be a real doubt; it may not be an imagined one, nor may it be a doubt manufactured to avoid carrying out an unpleasant duty. This is the highest standard of proof that is required by law. It is also the applicable standard in criminal cases. With a speeding ticket the one who must be convinced that the burden of proof, reasonable doubt, has been met is the administrative judge presiding over the hearing in traffic court. The one who must convince the administrative judge that the standard of proof has been met is the state. More specifically, of the officer who gave the driver the speeding ticket. At the hearing for the speeding ticket the officer will generally testify on behalf of the state. He or she will tell the judge what he observed on the day of the speeding ticket. The police officer will attempt to prove guilt by either a standard of reasonable doubt. In short the Commonwealth must prove: (1) The driver who is the defendant was actually the individual who was driving the car. Additionally, the driver accused was in fact driving the vehicle that was seen to be driving over the allowed speed limit. For example, that the officer pulled over the correct car and not one that looked similar but was going the proper speed. (2) The driver was going the speed that the officer claims they were. This would require that the radar or laser equipment was properly functioning, maintained and that the officer was trained in using this type of equipment. (3) The driver was driving over the speed limit. Each of these three elements can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt then the driver is guilty of speeding. A guilty verdict means that the driver will get points on their license and

be mandated to pay a fine. The number of points and amount of the fine will vary depending on the speed of the driver at the time of the stop. (6) What type of burden is it (beyond a reasonable doubt, reasonable suspicion, etc…?) The police officer will attempt to prove that the individual in court deserved the speeding ticket to a level of certainty that is either a standard of “reasonable doubt.” Reasonable doubt is tricky to define because it is subjective to each individual. However, it can be defined as a doubt that would cause a reasonably careful and sensible person to hesitate before acting upon a matter of importance in his or her own affairs. A reasonable doubt must be a real doubt; it may not be an imagined one, nor may it be a doubt manufactured to avoid carrying out an unpleasant duty. This is the highest standard of proof that is required by law. It is also the applicable standard in criminal cases. This means that there are a few things that the commonwealth must prove in order to find the driver in violation of the law. The police officers word alone will not be sufficient. The police officer must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was speeding. In part they must prove that the speed timing device they were operating is approved by the Department of Transportation. The police officer may do this by showing a copy of a PA Bulletin approved speed timing device list and entering it as evidence. After the commonwealth has proven that the speed timing device was an approved device then they must prove that it was properly maintained and calibrated. Lastly, the commonwealth must prove that the driver in court was in fact the driver of the car that was clocked speeding. In short the Commonwealth must prove: (1) The driver who is the defendant was actually the individual who was driving the car. Additionally, the driver accused was in fact driving the vehicle that was seen to be driving over the allowed speed limit. For example, that the officer pulled over the correct car and not one that looked similar but was going the proper speed. (2) The driver was going the speed that the officer claims they were. This would require that the radar or laser equipment was properly functioning, maintained and that the officer was trained in using this type of equipment. (3) The driver was driving over the speed limit. Each of these three elements can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt then the driver is guilty of speeding. A guilty verdict means that the driver will get points on their license and be mandated to pay a fine. The number of points and amount of the fine will vary depending on the speed of the driver at the time of the stop. Explanation of the points: Exceeding the speed limit by six to 10 mph: 2 points

Exceeding the speed limit by 11 to 15 mph: 3 points and a 15-day suspension if in a work zone Exceeding the speed limit by 16 to 25 mph: 4 points and a 15-day suspension if in a work zone Exceeding the speed limit by 26 to 30 mph: 5 points and a 15-day suspension if in a work zone Exceeding the speed limit by 31 mph or more: 5 points, a 15-day suspension if in a work zone, and possible other penalties as determined by a hearing examiner

(7) Does the state have a speed trap law? If so, please explain No. Speed traps are areas where a greater number of speeding stops occur. This happens because police officers hideout and wait for people to speed by. Speed traps are usually placed right after a drop in the roads speed limit. This will maximize the number of speeders because many drivers may miss the speed limit sign or simply choose not to slow down when they see the speed limit sign. While many Pennsylvanians feel that these speed traps are unfair and should be outlawed. But, they currently remain perfectly legal in Pennsylvania. (8) Can discovery be obtained for speeding ticket offenses? If so, how/what is the process First, what is discovery? The process of discovery can be long and complicated. Generally, it is a phase of the trial or of the hearing where evidence can be collected. During this phase both sides will gather as much information about the case as they can. The purpose is so that everyone is prepared for the hearing and there are no surprises. In a case for a speeding ticket the relevant information will include: whether radar or laser system was used, if that system was malfunctioning or improperly maintained, pictures of the roadway in the same condition as it was on the day of the ticket, police notes, and even witness can be called to testify in the trial other that the officer and the defendant. This will help in the defense of the speeding ticket. Now, is there discovery allowed in a case for a speeding ticket? That depends. In order to engage in the discovery process the driver must make a motion for discovery. This means that the driver must request that the court grant him access to all of the police documents and evidence against him before the start of the trial. What is the purpose of making a motion for discovery? So the driver knows exactly what they will hear in traffic court and there are no surprises. This can help the driver put together a coherent defense and possibly increase the chances that the ticket will get reduced or eliminated. If a motion is not made by the driver then this phase of the trial “discovery” will not happen and will just be skipped over as it is not integral. The motion for discovery, however, does not have a substantial impact on the outcome it is simple a different way of doing things. But without discovery, the driver, or their lawyer, may have to ask substantially more questions of the officer during the hearing

to discover if there is a defense to the speeding ticket. This will draw out the length of the trial and mean that there is less time to put on a well planned defense. There will be more “thinking on your feet” if the motion for discovery is not granted in Pennsylvania Traffic Courts. (9) Explain what is a lawful and unlawful stop for speeding in the state For an individual to get a speeding ticket the police must have probable cause that the driver has committed a traffic violation, such as speeding. This is because of the rights guaranteed to everyone in the Constitution of the United States. If there was not probable cause to stop the vehicle then the whole charge can be thrown out, and the offender cleared of all charges. This means that if the driver has absolutely no legitimate reason to be stopped by the police officer they will not be convicted of speeding. However, this is very uncommon because police officers may stop a car for so many varying reasons. A police officer may stop a vehicle if there is “probable cause.” But what is probable cause? Probable cause is when a police officer has a reasonable belief, based on facts and circumstances, that a person is committing a crime. Only where there is probable cause may the officer may arrest that person. Probable cause to stop a vehicle include: erratic driving, burnt out taillights, failure to follow the rules of the road, speeding, a dim license plate light, ect. Any legitimate reason at all will justify probable cause. After a vehicle has been stopped then the officer must be able to prove that the vehicle sopped was the vehicle that was doing the speeding. This is easy to prove on a rural road where there are very few cars, but picture a highway with lots of traffic. If you drive a very common car this can be more difficult. What makes unlawful stop? If there was either no reason to pull the car over or no reason to stop the vehicle then the stop was unlawful and there can be no speeding ticket resulting from that stop. After there haw been a lawful stop then the officer must be able to prove all of the elements of a speeding charge. They are: (1) The driver who is the defendant was actually the individual who was driving the car. Additionally, the driver accused was in fact driving the vehicle that was seen to be driving over the allowed speed limit. For example, that the officer pulled over the correct car and not one that looked similar but was going the proper speed. (2) The driver was going the speed that the officer claims they were. This would require that the radar or laser equipment was properly functioning, maintained and that the officer was trained in using this type of equipment. (3) The driver was driving over the speed limit. If the police can establish all three elements of speeding and the driver has no defense then the driver will be found guilty of speeding. (10) What are the elements of a speeding charge?

What are the elements of speeding? While this may seem very basic it is the essential starting point. The elements are the this the must be proven to find a driver in actual violation of the law. If all of the elements cannot be proven then the driver cannot be found guilty of a violation. (1) The driver who is the defendant was actually the individual who was driving the car. Additionally, the driver accused was in fact driving the vehicle that was seen to be driving over the allowed speed limit. For example, that the officer pulled over the correct car and not one that looked similar but was going the proper speed. (2) The driver was going the speed that the officer claims they were. This would require that the radar or laser equipment was properly functioning, maintained and that the officer was trained in using this type of equipment. (3) The driver was driving over the speed limit. The prosecution or the state has the burden of proving all of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt or by a standard of clear and convincing evidence (depending on where the driver got the ticket). If they fail in proving even one of these elements, then the case cannot go forward and the defendant cannot be convicted of a speeding charge. But it is essential to note that even if a the state is able to meet their burden of proof and establish that the driver was guilty of speeding they will not always receive a ticket. There are defenses that can be raised to excuse a driver from liability. If these defenses are successful then the driver will pay a reduced fine or the speeding ticket will be eliminated and there case will be dismissed. The information on how and when to raise a defense to a speeding ticket is on the back of the ticket. Generally, you will have to enter a plea or to say whether you are guilty or not guilty. If you intend on fighting the speeding ticket or believe that you have a defense you should enter a plea of not guilty. Common defenses include: person ticketed was not the actual driver, vehicle alleged was not the actual vehicle that was speeding, the event occurred out of jurisdiction of the officer who gave the ticket, the driver was not driving at the speed limit which law enforcement officer said they were driving, the reading was inaccurate due to the laser/ radar gun being shot at the wrong vehicle, the laser or Radar equipment was not properly maintained, the reading was inaccurate due to an obstruction or interference, or the law enforcement officer was either inexperienced or untrained in their application of the laser or radar system. (11) Describe the trial/procedures for speeding tickets in the state The trial procedures are listed on the back of the ticket. Again, where the driver got the ticket will play a substantial role in the procedure. If you choose to plead not guilty and fight the ticket this will be the standard procedure. If you plead guilty you will pay the fine and not have the opportunity to be heard. However, pleading guilty saves you some time. Discovery:

In order to engage in the discovery process the driver must make a motion for discovery. This means that the driver must request that the court grant him access to all of the police documents and evidence against him before the start of the trial. What is the purpose of making a motion for discovery? So the driver knows exactly what they will hear in traffic court and there are no surprises. This can help the driver put together a coherent defense and possibly increase the chances that the ticket will get reduced or eliminated. If a motion is not made by the driver then this phase of the trial “discovery” will not happen and will just be skipped over as it is not integral. Traffic Court Pennsylvania uses the standard of proof of reasonable doubt. This is rather high and is the same standard used in criminal courts. The entire burden rest on the state. The defense is not required to prove anything at all. If the state can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the driver deserved the ticket then the driver will be charged and forced to pay the full amount of the fine. If not, then the ticket will be reduced or eliminated all together. The Elements: If the state can prove that: (1) The driver who is the defendant was actually the individual who was driving the car. Additionally, the driver accused was in fact driving the vehicle that was seen to be driving over the allowed speed limit. For example, that the officer pulled over the correct car and not one that looked similar but was going the proper speed. (2) The driver was going the speed that the officer claims they were. This would require that the radar or laser equipment was properly functioning, maintained and that the officer was trained in using this type of equipment. (3) The driver was driving over the speed limit the driver will get a ticket unless they have a defense. Defenses: Common defenses include: person ticketed was not the actual driver, vehicle alleged was not the actual vehicle that was speeding, the event occurred out of jurisdiction of the officer who gave the ticket, the driver was not driving at the speed limit which law enforcement officer said they were driving, the reading was inaccurate due to the laser/ radar gun being shot at the wrong vehicle, the laser or Radar equipment was not properly maintained, the reading was inaccurate due to an obstruction or interference, or the law enforcement officer was either inexperienced or untrained in their application of the laser or radar system. (12) List and explain the most common defenses to speeding

Getting a speeding ticket does not necessarily meant that the driver will get stuck paying the fine. There are numerous defenses that, if successful, will result in the speeding ticket being dismissed and the driver having no liability. If/when you get a speeding ticket be sure to carefully read the back of the ticket. On the back of the ticket there will be instructions on entering a plea. Generally, you will have to enter a plea or to say whether you are guilty or not guilty. If you intend on fighting the speeding ticket or believe that you have a defense you should enter a plea of not guilty. The proper time to raise a defense is in court and not at the traffic stop. In traffic court the driver will have ample opportunity to raise any applicable defense that they feel may work. If there is a defense raised this will go into evidence and the judge will weigh it against the other evidence. A defense is in no way a “get out a jail free card” but it may reduce or eliminate the charge. However, one should never rely on a defense to speeding as justification for speeding. This is a list of the general defense to speeding tickets: person ticketed was not the actual driver, vehicle alleged was not the actual vehicle that was speeding, the event occurred out of jurisdiction of the officer who gave the ticket, the driver was not driving at the speed limit which law enforcement officer said they were driving, driving over the speed limit was necessary in order to avoid committing a greater violation or crime, driving over the speed limit was necessary due to a sudden unforeseeable emergency in order to avoid serious injury to oneself or others, driving over the speed limit could not be avoided as a result of the dangerous actions cause by law enforcement officers Laser and radar defenses to a speeding ticket may also be available to the driver. They include, but are not limited to: the reading was inaccurate due to the laser/ radar gun being shot at the wrong vehicle, the laser or Radar equipment was not properly maintained, the reading was inaccurate due to an obstruction or interference, the law enforcement officer was either inexperienced or untrained in their application of the laser or radar system, the laser or radar system malfunctioned for some other reason. (13) Similar to question 11, how can a defendant successfully fight a speeding ticket How a driver fights a speeding ticket will depend on where the driver got the ticket. The trial procedures are listed on the back of the ticket. Again, where the driver got the ticket will play a substantial role in the procedure. If you choose to plead not guilty and fight the ticket this will be the standard procedure. If you plead guilty you will pay the fine and not have the opportunity to be heard. However, pleading guilty saves you some time. Lawyer: There are lawyers that can help guide a driver threw this process. This way you can have an experienced professional on your side. This could make all the difference in knowing what defense to use and what ones are not applicable. Discovery: In order to engage in the discovery process the driver must make a motion for discovery. This means that the driver must request that the court grant him access to all of the police documents and evidence against him before the start of the trial. What is the purpose of making a motion for discovery? So the driver knows exactly what they will hear in traffic court and there are no surprises. This can help the driver put together a coherent defense and possibly increase the chances that the ticket will get

reduced or eliminated. If a motion is not made by the driver then this phase of the trial “discovery” will not happen and will just be skipped over as it is not integral. Traffic Court Pennsylvania uses the standard of proof of reasonable doubt. This is rather high and is the same standard used in criminal courts. The entire burden rest on the state. The defense is not required to prove anything at all. If the state can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the driver deserved the ticket then the driver will be charged and forced to pay the full amount of the fine. If not, then the ticket will be reduced or eliminated all together. The Elements: If the state can prove that: (1) The driver who is the defendant was actually the individual who was driving the car. Additionally, the driver accused was in fact driving the vehicle that was seen to be driving over the allowed speed limit. For example, that the officer pulled over the correct car and not one that looked similar but was going the proper speed. (2) The driver was going the speed that the officer claims they were. This would require that the radar or laser equipment was properly functioning, maintained and that the officer was trained in using this type of equipment. (3) The driver was driving over the speed limit the driver will get a ticket unless they have a defense. Defenses: Common defenses include: person ticketed was not the actual driver, vehicle alleged was not the actual vehicle that was speeding, the event occurred out of jurisdiction of the officer who gave the ticket, the driver was not driving at the speed limit which law enforcement officer said they were driving, the reading was inaccurate due to the laser/ radar gun being shot at the wrong vehicle, the laser or Radar equipment was not properly maintained, the reading was inaccurate due to an obstruction or interference, or the law enforcement officer was either inexperienced or untrained in their application of the laser or radar system. Being Successful: To be successful you will need to show that the burden of proof has not been met by the state. This is most commonly done by way of a defense to the charge. (14) Are the speeding laws/limits different for commercial vehicles? No. In Pennsylvania commercial vehicles are treated just like any other vehicle on the road. They are subject to the same fines and penalties. (15) Are allowed to temporarily exceed the speed limit while passing a vehicle that is traveling below the speed limit in this state (some states allow this) No, Pennsylvania does not allow a car to speed up to pass another car.

(16) What states have reciprocity with your state (If you have a license in another state, will the points/fines transfer to this state) – Very important issue Pennsylvania is a state that acknowledges reciprocity with 45 other states as well as some Canadian providences. What this means is that there is a great deal of transparency between Pennsylvania and other states. Speeding violation in one state can be seen by police officers in another state. This is because Pennsylvania is a member of a group of states that participates in a group called the Driver's License's Compact. Forty-five states as well as the District of Columbia participate in the Driver's License's Compact. The five states that are not members of the compact are Georgia, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. The Diver's License Compact is a collation of states whose goal it is to promote, “One Driver, One License, One Record,” and member states report traffic violations of nonresidents to other participating members states. This means that if you have a speeding violation in Pennsylvania and the get another speeding violation in Pennsylvania the Pennsylvania speeding ticket will count as your second offense even though your first ticket was out of state in Ohio. This creates a free flow of information between that states and allows for a more complete driving record. In addition to increased transparency between the states this compact will allow points on a driver license in one state to transfer to a license in another state. This will prevent drivers from moving to erase their poor driving history. Also, it will have an effect on insurance premiums. While this compact allow the state of Pennsylvania to share some driving related offense with Canada speeding is not one of those offenses. Only drug related charges that happened in Quebec or Ontario will be disclosed to Pennsylvania authorities. In addition to the Diver's License Compact, Pennsylvania is also a member of the Non-Resident Violator Compact. Forty four states and the District of Columbia are also members of the Non-Resident Violator Compact. The state who are not members of this compact are: Alaska, California, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Under this compact out-of-state violators who are residents of states who are not members of the compact ARE required to post bail in order to leave the state, whereas outof-state violators who are residents of states who are residents of states who are members of the compact ARE NOT required to. However, violators who are residents of members states will still face suspension of their license in their home state is they do not respond to their ticket in the state they committed the offense.

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