WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR A REQUIRED FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY CITATION UNDER SECTION 1786?
You can be cited for a Required Financial Responsibility violation if you do not have auto insurance, or fail to produce an auto insurance card to a police officer during a traffic stop. Under Section 1786 (f) of the PA Motor Vehicle Code, you are facing a mandatory 3-month license suspension and a fine of $300 plus court costs.
REPRESENTING YOURSELF ON AN INSURANCE VIOLATION AT THE MAGISTRATE? THINK TWICE AND HIRE A LAWYER
Your best, and perhaps only chance, at avoiding a license suspension is to win your case at the magistrate's office. Under PA law, PennDOT DOES NOT need proof of a conviction to suspend your license. However, PennDOT typically does not find out about your insurance violation unless you are found guilty or plead guilty at the magistrate's office.
If you lose at the magistrate's office, and win your summary appeal, PennDOT will still try to suspend your license at your statutory license suspension appeal hearing. In short - you can beat the insurance charge and still lose your license.
In order to increase your chances of avoiding a suspension, it's best to ensure that you are properly represented at the magistrate's office so PennDOT does not pursue a future suspension if you lose.
WHAT IF I FOUND MY INSURANCE CARD? CAN I JUST BRING IT TO THE HEARING?
Under Section 1786 (g)(1), it is a defense to the citation if you produce proof that you had auto insurance coverage on the date you were stopped (i.e. insurance card) within 5 days from the date you are cited. You must provide this proof to the Magisterial District Court where the citation was filed. It is recommended that you submit the insurance card by fax and certified mail.
As a result, showing up to court more than 5 days after you were cited does not comply with the timeframe required to apply this defense. However, if your case is presented to the court properly, the Judge may dismiss this charge upon proper presentation of a valid insurance card even after the 5-day limit.
DOES MY ELECTRONIC INSURANCE CARD COUNT?
Yes. Under Section 1786 (c), a driver can provide electronic proof of insurance to a police officer. However, the officer has the right to take your phone and view content as is necessary to demonstrate proof of your insurance. You assume liability for any damage to your cell phone caused while the officer is viewing the contents of your electronic insurance card.
HOW ZUCKERMAN LAW FIRM CAN HELP
Those cited for Required Financial Responsibility are often charged with another moving violation, such as Speeding, Reckless/Careless Driving, Following Too Closely, Stop Sign Violations, or Red Light Violations. As such, if you are viewing this site, you are likely facing not only a license suspension, but points on your license as well.
At Zuckerman Law Firm, our goal in each and every traffic case is simple: eliminate points and license suspensions while reducing fines. In fighting for the most favorable results, we prepare for your summary trial while working behind the scenes to negotiate the best possible resolution of your case. We can review your driving history, research case law, prepare cross-examination questions, and negotiate directly with the police officer on your behalf.
If you are charged with careless driving, get a professional on your side. Call Zuckerman Law Firm today at 412-447-5580.