Helpful Information For Fighting PA Tickets

Maestro

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Helpful Information For Fighting PA Tickets - UPDATED 2013

SORRY all the Case law links are broke again PA Courts web page change yet again I know where they are wasting our tax $ again.

I had this information posted elsewhere, and decided to share it here as well. It was a little out of date since I was not keeping it updated therefore some of the links were missing or broke, I will update it as I can in the coming days UPDATED AS of 1/15/2013 - Let me know if you find any bad links or missing information.

As part of my research I have come across these various cases laws which apply to any speeding ticket that uses electronics to measure your speed. At the bottom you will find a bunch of useful links on all the court rules and the such. This is good to know if you plan to fight your PA ticket. I will warn you, you may not be successful with using the various case laws and court rules in your favor, since as one would expect a Magistrate may not care or knows if they do not rule in your favor it is going to take a Lawyer to appeal your case to prove them wrong.

These were all attacks on the equipment used and whether the paper work was admissible.

Couple of important take aways,

One, they can not submit photocopies of any documents. This one is in your favor.

Here is an example of one of the actually document they must produce http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol42/42-51/42-51.pdf it is the list of approved speed measuring devices and test stations you will find it towards the end of the document page 7784. (Update of 2013)

Second, they are not required to do a field test before or after the ticket even if the equipment manual and training has indicated it should be done. Others have pointed this out as a defense but it does not apply in PA. This one is NOT in your favor.

Third, the state does not have to prove the person who calibrated the equipment was the actual person authorized to do so. This one is NOT in your favor.

Last important Item; This one can go either way for you The reason this is important is because most people and website will tell you the prosecution only has to show guilt to the Preponderance of the evidence (greater than 50% which is not true in PA. PA treats tickets as criminal offense. However, if you let the judge get away with it they will convict you on 50% and not beyond a reasonable doubt

To sustain a conviction for speeding, the Commonwealth must show beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) that an accused was driving in excess of the applicable speed limit, (2) that the speed timing device was approved by the Department of Transportation and, (3) that it had been tested for accuracy by an approved testing station. See generally Commonwealth v. Gernsheimer, 276 Pa. Super. 418, 419 A.2d 528 (1980).
In Commonwealth v.Gernsheimer, 276 Pa. Super. at 424, 419 A.2d at 530 the motorist argued that the Certificate was not admissible because it did not contain an official seal. The court held that an official seal was not required by 75 Pa.C.S. ? 3368(d). Furthermore, the court held that as long as evidence is admitted which proves that the testing center was approved by the Secretary, and as long as the Certificate is signed by the appropriate, designated individuals, the Commonwealth had met its burden with regard to the requirements of 75 Pa.C.S. ? 3368(d).

In Commonwealth v. Druschel, 276 Pa. Super. 418, 419 A.2d 528 (1980), we reiterated that in cases where an electronic device has been used to calibrate a defendant's speed, before the Commonwealth may introduce the results into evidence, it must offer proof that the agency testing the accuracy of the device is approved by the Secretary, the Certificate must be signed by the individual who performed the test and the engineer in charge of the station, and the Certificate must show on its face that the device was tested and bear the results of that testing. Furthermore, the device must have been tested within sixty days of the date it was used to calibrate the speed in question.

In Commonwealth v. Cummings, 338 Pa. Super. 149, 487 A.2d 897 (1985), the sole issue was whether the Commonwealth could introduce into evidence a photocopy of the Certificate of stopwatch accuracy in accordance with the statutory hearsay exception for business and public records, 42 Pa.C.S. § 6109(b), in satisfaction of 75 Pa.C.S. § 3368(d). We held that a copy was not admissible because the Commonwealth did not authenticate the document as required by 42 Pa.C.S. § 6108(b). Specifically, the trooper could not testify whether the photocopy was a true copy of the original: therefore, it could not be authenticated. Furthermore, we held that the Certificate did not qualify as a business or public record under § 6109(b). We reasoned that since 75 Pa.C.S. § 3368(d) applies specifically to offers of proof in speeding cases, it takes precedence over the general requirements of the Official Documents Law, 42 Pa.C.S., 5328, in speeding cases.

In Commonwealth v. Denney, 372 Pa. Super. 317, 539 A.2d 814 (1987), a motorist argued that the Certificate was inadmissible because the Commonwealth failed to present independent evidence that the testing center was approved by the Department of Transportation. We held that independent evidence of the certificate itself must be offered in order to prove that the testing station is approved by the Secretary. "This independent evidence may consist of either a separate document from the Secretary under seal or a citation to the Pennsylvania Bulletin which lists the station as an approved testing station." Id., 372 Pa. Super. at 323, 539 A.2d at 816.

In Commonwealth v. Hamaker, 373 Pa. Super. 510, 541 A.2d 1141 (1988), there was no dispute that the device had been approved by the Department of Transportation and that it had been tested at an approved station, and according to the Certificate, the device had been tested within sixty days of the violation. Rather, the motorist argued that the Certificate was not admissible because the trooper who used the device to clock the motorist's speed had failed to perform the recommended field checks on the day the violation was recorded. We held that the Commonwealth was not required to furnish additional proof of the accuracy of speed timing device under field checks listed in operator's manual. See 75 Pa.C.S. §§ 3363, 3368(d). Therefore, we held that appellant's attempt to challenge the validity and accuracy of the calibration test result failed.

In Commonwealth v. Nernberg, 402 Pa. Super. 411, 587 A.2d 317 (1991), a motorist argued that the Certificate was inadmissible because there was no indication that the signatures of the individuals who signed the Certificate were authorized to represent the testing station which tested the accuracy of the radar device, as required by the statutory language found in 75 Pa.C.S. § 3368(d), "from the station." We held that the language contains no such requirement and added that it would be "unreasonable to conclude that those persons conducting accuracy calibrations on behalf of YIS, Inc., an official testing station, were in any way unauthorized to do so merely because no officer of YIS, Inc., was also a signatory to the certificate." Id., 402 Pa. Super. at 414, 587 A.2d at 318-319.

In Commonwealth v. Hightower 438 Pa. Super. 400 652 A.2d 873, (1995) In appeals from summary proceedings arising under the Motor Vehicle Code (Title 75 of Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes) or local traffic ordinances, other than parking offenses, the law enforcement officer who observed the alleged offense must appear and testify. Unless the presence of the law enforcement officer is waived in open court by the defendant, the failure of the officer to appear and testify shall result in a dismissal of the charges.

In Commonwealth v. Ness 341 Pa. Super. 225, 491 A.2d 234, (1985) The held that the legislature did not intend, because of the introduction of sophisticated speed timing apparatus, to maintain the one-eighth of a mile distance requirement. The Commonwealth should be given the opportunity to prove that the watch was properly certified under the Regulations and that the officer could accurately time the rate of speed that Appellee's vehicles were travelling over the premeasured distances used. The Commonwealth, in this case, was prepared to present evidence that a certified stop watch was used to measure the rate of speed of Appellee's vehicles and that the watch was used over a 200 ft. and a 600 ft. course. The Commonwealth was also ready to present expert testimony which would indicate that the stop watch is the functional equivalent of VASCAR, the use of which is found to be accurate for distances under 200 feet.

This over turned a previous rule that said the minimum distance must be 1/8 miles - Common Pleas Court in Commonwealth v. Manny, 11 D. & C.3d 714 (1978), aff'd, 272 Pa. Super. 93, 414 A.2d 685 (1980) which was based on Calibration procedure which required 1/8 mile.
Oh, trying to argue the speed limits were improperly set and a traffic study was not done, this case says the state is not required to do so and they can set the speed to any limit they want as defined by the vehicle code.

Also, this case seems to be the hallmark case for all PA traffic cases, it is sited in most all other traffic case as the reason to uphold or overturn a conviction, there is many other elements of this case not listed here.


Commonwealth v. Gernsheimer, 276 Pa. Super. 418 at 422, 419 A.2d 528 at 530 (1980). The evidence in the instant case indicated that for at least eight years there were nine signs posted to indicate the 35 mile per hour zone of approximately a mile and a half in the Village of Skippack where the violation took place. The defendant offered no evidence that the devices were non-conforming or were not placed by the official act or direction of lawful authority and therefore under the authority of Gernsheimer his argument must fail.

Assuming arguendo, that there was evidence that the signs were not posted pursuant to engineering and traffic investigation conducted under the Vehicle Code of 1976, we still feel the Commonwealth must prevail. There is nothing in the language of 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3363 (providing for alteration of maximum limits) to suggest that all previously altered limits existing on July 1, 1977, the effective date of the Vehicle Code, were rendered invalid until new engineering and traffic investigations took place. In fact the indications are otherwise. "Engineering and Traffic Study" is defined in the Code as:

An orderly examination or analysis of physical features and traffic conditions conducted in accordance with regulations of the department and conforming to generally accepted engineering standards and practices for the purpose of ascertaining the need or lack of need for a particular action by the department or local authorities.
UPDATE: You might still be able to argue this, the State updated the TITLE 67 TRANSPORTATION CHAPTER 212. OFFICIAL TRAFFIC-CONTROL DEVICES and it went into effect Feb 06, which is long after this case and it makes definite statements about speed limits that are not set by Statutes like 25, 35, 55, and 65 MPH. Specifically look at Section 212.2 and 212.3 and Section 212.108

Also look at Section 3362 of Title 75

If you plan to go this path here is some other useful information

MUTCD on 85th percentile
FHWA - MUTCD - 2003 Edition Revision 1 Chapter 2B
http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/pdfs/2003r1/Ch2B.pdf

More on MUTCD Defense - look at section 3111 for rules on sign placement since

Proper position and legibility of device.--No provision of this title for which official traffic-control devices are required shall be enforced against an alleged violator if at the time and place of the alleged violation an official device is not in proper position and sufficiently legible to be seen by an ordinarily observant person. Whenever a particular section does not state that official traffic-control devices are required, the section shall be effective even though no devices are erected or in place.
For those who think errors on tickets might get them out of the ticket this is the PA State rules around that, no luck.

Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure

RULE 150. Defects in Complaint, Citation, Summons or Warrant

(a) Informal Defects:

No person arrested under a warrant or appearing in response to a summons or citation shall be discharged from custody nor shall any case be dismissed because of any informal defects in the complaint, citation, summons, or warrant, but the complaint, citation, summons or warrant, may be amended at any time so as to remedy any such informality.

(b) Substantive Defects:

If a complaint, citation, summons or warrant contains a substantive defect, the defendant shall be discharged unless he waives the defect. Nothing in this rule shall prevent the filing of a new complaint or citation and the issuance of process in which the defect is corrected in a proper manner.

Comment: "Informal defect" refers to errors which do not prevent the substantive content of the document from being plainly understood.

Substantive defects would include those cases in which the defendant's identity cannot be determined or in which the offense is not properly described.

Any new complaint must be filed within the time permitted by a statute of limitations.
UPDATE : Rule 150 was replaced with Rule 109. Deffects in Form, Content, or Procedure.

What must the Citation contain and whether you can appeal A Trial De Novo

Rule 403. Contents of Citation.

Here are some discussion about your rights as related to tickets and paying, pleading guilty or not guilty.

For those of you who think the Officer not showing is an automatic dismissal of your case it may not apply in PA as the Hightower case above said

Pa.R.Crim.P. 83(b) states: "... in all summary cases arising under the Motor Vehicle Code or local traffic ordinances, the law enforcement officer observing the defendant's alleged offense may, but shall not be required to, appear and testify against the defendant. In no event shall the failure of the law enforcement officer to appear, by itself, be a basis for dismissal of the charges against defendant.
More to READ on this subject.

Rule 86 and 83 have been replaced by Rule 462 Trail De Novo which says about the same thing. This rules was put in place in 2000 to address the Hightower case law from above.

Here is information on Summary Trail which traffic tickets fall under

Rule 1002. Procedure in Summary Cases.

Rule 454

Reading from the ticket or Refreshing Memory it appears the courts allow this even without laying proper foundation as some website and books say is not allowed

Rule 612

Lack of Personal Knowledge, important when more than one officer is involved with the ticket

Rule 602

Right to Discovery & Bill of Particulars

It is generally accepted for traffic cases Discovery is NOT allowed except for offenses like DUI.

Rule 572
Rule 573

Police Jurisdiction - people always ask can the police cross over or into another town or county to write a ticket. Well here is the rules on that matter

42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 8953
Recent Case law

Freedom of Information Request (Right-To-Know Law)

Some people will tell you to make a freedom of information request for documents you need to help defend yourself. Here is a case where the person filed a RTKL for all the documents for ENRADD and PennDot deny the request saying it was not public information so the guy loss.

ENRADD & RTKL Case Law
Information on PA Right to Know Law

Rules of Evidence

Title 225
Title 42 Part VI Chapter 61

If you think you can ask for a jury trial your mistaken in PA, read below:

In COMMONWEALTH v. CINDY LEE APPEL, Appellant claims that she was entitled to a jury trial. "The [United States] Constitution requires that one accused of a "serious offense" be given a jury trial." Commonwealth v. Mayberry, 459 Pa. 91, 97, 327 A.2d 86, 89 (1974) citing Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145, 88 S.Ct. 1444, 20 L.Ed.2d 491 (1968) [additional citations omitted]. In determining whether an offense is "serious" or "petty" the court looks to the crime and the sentence that could potentially be imposed. "Those crimes carrying more than six months sentence are serious and those carrying less are petty crimes". Mayberry, 459 Pa. 91, 98, 327 A.2d 86, 89 (1974) citing Codispoti v. Pennsylvania, 418 U.S. 506, 512, 94 S.Ct. 2687, 2691, 41 L.Ed.2d 912 (1974). "If the sentence actually imposed is greater than six months, then the accused must be afforded an opportunity to be tried by jury." Mayberry, 459 Pa. 91, 99, 327 A.2d 86, 90 (1974).

Appellant committed a summary offense and was ordered to pay a fine. 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3362(c). Because Appellant's offense did not carry a penalty of imprisonment, she clearly was not entitled to a jury trial.
Your right to a speedy trail Rule 1013. Prompt Trial—Municipal Court. or if you like Rule 600. Prompt Trial.

I have run across this, Title 42 which covers Judicial procedures and it has information about you must have a hearing within in 30 days and a citation must be issued within 30 days.

42 Part IV Chapter 55 Subchapter C Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5553 Limitation of Time Summary offenses involving vehicles

Here is some Case Law on this matter
Another Case on this matter (there are other cases but I can not find the specific links appear the PA supreme court has pull the case files from their website)
One more Case

If you want to know about all the rules that apply to summary case which traffic tickets are cover under:

Title 234 Chapter 4 Procedures in Summary Cases

Ticket Quotas, everyone hears and have heard they are illegal, however, it does not apply to you and I, only to the police, the law is labor law for police. So if you can get the police to say they had a quote then you can get your ticket thrown out. Read Here This is Title 71 Section V, Chapter 19 Subsection 2001 & 2002. I have been unable to find this information anywhere on any of the PA Laws and Statues Website, I wonder why they hide this away.

Useful Links for PA Tickets holders

Pennsylvania's Unified Judicial System - Good for finding case laws (Supreme court Opinions) since 1997, prior to this you have to use something like caseclerk.com or findlaw.com (which just require a free account)
Findacase - This is a good place to look up older PA case laws by subject and it is free which is great

THE PENNSYLVANIA STATUTES - (LINK IS NOW DEAD see below for updated information) This is Thomas E. Martin, Jr., Esq. , a PA judges website, some of his information is a bit out of date, however, he has things on his site I could not find on any of the official websites, even the PA court website reference this judge's site. (UPDATE - It appears his entire content was preserved under http://web.archive.org, see things never go away on the web) LINK

PA Codes - Good for finding all the current statutes for transportation, including the Rules of criminal and civil procedures.

Unofficial Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes from Westlaw - It appears that pacodes.com do not have all the statues for PA specifically Title 42 which have important stuff about court procedures.

Onecle - Good place to look up PA statues and rules

Pennsylvania Bulletin Online - Good for finding the latest changes to the statutes. From time to time they update statutes and send out bulletins to everyone but the official statutes was not updated on pacodes so you need to look here to make sure nothing change this is the place where they list all the approved speed measuring equipment and calibrations stations.

PENNDOT Driver and Vehicle Services - Vehicle Code - Current Vehicle codes including the rules of the road, Chapter 31 and 33 and Powers of Department and Local Authorities Chapter 61, 63 and 65.

PSP: Subpoena Procedures at the Pennsylvania State Police - Good for filing a discovery request for the PA State Police, they make it easy for you unlike your local Police which require an Court order discovery request. It only cost $5 a day to have troop show up as a witness

Philadelphia Traffic Court @ Courts.phila.gov - Good if you are in Philadelphia, they follow a different procedure but some good useful information, worth a look at. They have professional Judges to nail your a$$. :wink:

Some good insight into Fighting a ticket in PA - I do not endorse this guy, but he does have some good free information which would give you something to think about.

Pennsylvania Code - These are the rules that cover Philadelphia traffic courts if your so need.

Points and Suspension information

Out of state Tickets will you get points on you PA license?

Fine structure for tickets.

See if you hearing date is posted You can use this site to see if you hearing date was set and when,

Approved Speed-Timing Devices and Appointment of Maintenance and Calibration Stations
The official notification of approved speed measuring equipment and the test facilities allowed to cal the equipment, this is the Dec 2008 update, this is updated Dec of every year. NOTE: Depending on the equipment each test station has a particular code associated with it. Some station can test radar as well as VASCAR, however the station code is different for each equipment. - UPDATED for 2013

NOTE Very Important: _ Read the Case Law on No Photo Copies - This is the actual Document the officer must bring Official PA Bulletin anything else not acceptable. The above link in just Web text version local PD get this document. - UPDATED for 2013

Radargate with PA State Police.

There was known issue with a Genesis radar unit used by the PSP which would record a 70 MPH speed

Here is everything you need to know

Tint Law Tickets

Not a traffic ticket but people get these when the officer pulled you over looking for something else but this is all they can find.

PA rule on Tint (See page 3)

Federal Rules on Tint

This person did lots of research on the Tint law in PA I will not attempt to reproduce what this person did. Some people's work is just perfect.

Rules about using Unmarked Patrol Cars

Unmarked Cars Rules

Wearing a Uniform

Here is what is written in Title 75 section 33
§ 3328. Unmarked police vehicles.
(a) General rule.--The Pennsylvania State Police, in consultation with the department, shall
promulgate regulations for the use of unmarked vehicles by police officers. The regulations shall:
(1) establish the procedure to be used by a police officer in an unmarked vehicle when
stopping a motorist;
(2) require the use of audible and visual signals which meet the requirements and
standards set forth in this title and in regulations adopted by the department; and
(3) establish requirements for the wearing of an official police uniform and the display
of official police identification.
(b) Public awareness.--The Pennsylvania State Police and the department shall provide for the
dissemination of information to the public regarding the use of unmarked vehicles. Such information shall
accompany annual vehicle registration or vehicle registration renewal forms distributed by the department
no earlier than July 1, 2002.
ENRADD what it is and How to fight this ticket

Read this discussion Possible defense can be found towards the end (Admin's sorry for referencing another website, if you want I will remove this but it is helpful information that I participated in the discussion and possible methods for fighting these tickets)

Also this guy (Earle Drack) has really fought the ENRADD case, here is his information that he use to fight the State of PA and which lead to his RTKL cases which he finally won - LINK

ENRADD Case law - The state does not have to prove it was ever tested this is part of Earle Drack RTKL case which it came our that PA is not required to show proof they ever tested any devices on their list. This issue came about since the original ENRADD unit had cable that ran to the cruiser from the unit, they later producted a wireless unit which never showed on on the approved list and police and courts reference the the original version since the Manufacture never change the model number from the wired verse to the wireless version. As of 2012 PA has not correct this problem in the approved device bulletin listed at the top of this page, they just now added the wireless version to the approved device list.

Here is Earle Drack latest Case where the Supreme Court upheld his rights to request the testing approval of the ENRADD device, I believe he only won this since the state really screwed up, If they did not play their game they would have won and he still would not gotten the test results he was requesting. I have not seen any of this information he got surface on the web as of yet.

Here is a video on the subject http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=3kc-9e55gwI

VASCAR Information

How was VASCAR tested by the Government or the direct link to the government testing
Understanding Parallax - This becomes an issue on the exact distance you were measured over specially if the office is closer to one line than the other or the distance between the lines are long.
Reaction Times - if you really want to go down this path of fighting a VASCAR ticket
More Reaction Time stuff
How VASCAR is connect to the Vehicle - LINK
Here is a few section of a BOOK on how to fight a ticket in Ohio but is valid in PA. It even covers the fact that the officer must be in uniform and in a marked patrol car, which PA and Ohio both have similar rules.

From Section 3368 of Title 75 This is an important part the distance of the line. This is o what I tell people to focus on when fighting the a timed ticket. What was the distance of the lines and who and how were they measure and do the officer have proof of their distance. Since according this this section of the code they have to be measure and calibrated every 60 days and proof of their distance must be presented in court. I personal have not seen or hear police bring this information most time they state the distance if asked about they say they were told that was the distance.

(d) Classification, approval and testing of mechanical, electrical and electronic devices <snip> ... The certification and calibration of electronic devices under subsection (c)(3) shall also include the certification and calibration of all equipment, timing strips and other devices which are actually used with the particular electronic device being certified and calibrated. Electronic devices commonly referred to as electronic speed meters or radar shall have been tested for accuracy within a period of one year prior to the alleged violation. Other devices shall have been tested for accuracy within a period of 60 days prior to the alleged violation. A certificate from the station showing that the calibration and test were made within the required period and that the device was accurate shall be competent and prima facie evidence of those facts in every proceeding.
Useful VASCAR math

Manuals for TRACKER - Similar as VASCAR - Explains how it works they ever claim reaction time is not a factor.

Product Information Sorry Folks it appears Kustom Yanked the manuals from the website, (Basters) well you could never find them on their website directly but I had located the place they stored them and it appears the address is no longer valid.
User Manual
 
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uniter

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For this I think that it only means that you have to have a citation issued to you within 30 days after the action, it does not impose limits on the trial date set. I believe they have the full 365 days to set the trial date from the time of the citation.
I am currently under this situation and upon speaking to an attorney and providing the case law and citing this part of the pa constitution it was his opinion that this was the case.

I have run across this, Title 42 which covers Judicial procedures and it has information about you must have a hearing within in 30 days and a citation must be issued within 30 days.

42 Part IV Chapter 55 Subchapter C Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5553 Limitation of Time Summary offenses involving vehicles
 

Maestro

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Yeah this part of the law is confusing, and there are a few view points on this and obvious case laws. There is statements about timely trails and your 365 days is correct under title 42, but prompt trail requirement said 180 days to 210 days so am not sure what the real case is and I never found any case law on this as related to traffic tickets

The above law is about how long the police have to issue a ticket and when the time clock begins ticking. Is it when the violation occur or when the police became aware of the violation. This can be used if the judge or officer tries to issue a new ticket during the hearing. Such as they wrote the ticket for one violation and find out the officer cited the wrong law and they try and amend the ticket after the fact. This is not allow under this rule.
 

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