How to Respond to a Pennsylvania Traffic Citation

Oh no! You've been issued a traffic citation/ticket! Whether it's for speeding, running a red light, or something else, all state traffic citations in Pennsylvania require a response. What should be your first step? Should you just pay the citation and get it over with it or should you fight it in court? This guide will assist you in deciding how to deal with your citation.


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    Review the citation. Read through each section to make sure you understand the violation you allegedly committed, the fine and additional court costs, and all of the additional comments.
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    Ensure that your name, address, license information, and vehicle information are all correct. Contrary to common belief, just because a part of a citation is incorrect does not mean it will be automatically thrown out in court. However, it is still crucial to check all of these fields on the citation.
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    Research the violation online. Pennsylvania has various forms of the vehicle code offered online, including on the Pennsylvania legislature's website. The statute section for your violation will be located in box 27 on the right side of the citation. Enter this number, along with "Pennsylvania Title 75" into a search engine to read exactly what that specific section of the motor vehicle code says. A copy of the motor vehicle code (Title 75) is in the sources below.
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    Acknowledge your options. Pennsylvania allows individuals to either plead guilty and pay the fine and additional costs or set up a preliminary hearing with the magistrate court where the citation was issued.
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    Remember that you have ten (10) calendar days to respond to the magisterial district court with your decision. If you do not respond within ten days, you may face additional penalties including a driver's license suspension and additional fines. Also, a traffic warrant could be issued for your arrest for failing to respond.
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    Make your decision and contact the magistrate court. The information for the magistrate court is listed at the top left of the citation in box 1. If all that appears in this box is a long number with a few dashes in it, this is the number that identifies the specific court office. You can look this number up online to find the address and phone number for that specific court office.
    • If you choose to plead guilty, pay the fine as required by law. Once the fine is paid in full and any points are added to your driving record, the citation is complete; you do not have to do anything else.
    • If you choose to set up a preliminary hearing, receive the date and time for your hearing from the magistrate court. You may have to send the citation into the court, along with the payment in the amount of the total fine plus a $7.00 administrative fee, as your bond. Continue to research your violation and prepare any defenses that you may offer to the court. When your court date arrives, ensure that you are at the magistrate court earlier than your scheduled time. If the court is running ahead of schedule, they may take your case prior to your scheduled time.
    • At the end of your hearing, you will be told whether you were found guilty or not guilty and any associated penalties. If you are found not guilty, you should receive your monetary bond back.
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    Relax. Now that you do not have to worry about the citation anymore, you can continue with your life ticket-free!


  • If you wish to plead guilty but do not have enough money to pay for the citation in full, contact the magistrate district court and request a payment hearing. Most magistrate judges will work with the defendant to come up with a payment plan.
  • If you choose to pay the fine without attending a preliminary court hearing, the court will enter this decision as a guilty plea.
  • Magistrate district courts in Pennsylvania are generally smaller offices with just a few rooms. Normally, these offices are not located in large courthouses or major government buildings.
  • While the steps in this article can be followed for almost any citation in Pennsylvania, note that most parking tickets are not issued through the courts in the same way as a moving violation. For parking tickets, you should contact whomever is listed on the ticket, which may be a police department or parking enforcement agency, rather than the court.


  • When traffic violation points are assessed to a person's driving record, the person's car insurance company is also notified. Some insurance companies may choose to raise insurance rates as a result of these points.
  • Should you accumulate six or more points on your driving record, you may face additional penalties in order to keep your driver's license.
  • In addition to the fine and court costs, some traffic violations also have points assessed to your driving record should the court find you guilty.

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Categories: Fines and Road Offenses