While most traffic offenses are infractions or sometimes misdemeanors, they could still have serious consequences ranging from fines to points on a license. That is why it is essential for an individual to have an attorney who understands the court, and has knowledge and experience in advising an individual on how they may face a potential sentence before the court. When dealing with traffic offenses, a point system is established for each and every charge that the legislature has determined to be more serious.
That is, a certain number of points against the individual’s license (up to seven) is added to the individual’s license per offense. Should the individual exceed a certain limit, a license suspension comes into play as well as consequences to the individual’s insurance rates and other costs involved. It is the severity of the crime and/or traffic violation that is determined by the Bucks County demerit point system. If an individual wants to know more about demerit points, they should consult a knowledgeable traffic lawyer that could answer their questions and help them challenge points on their license.
The Pennsylvania Sentencing Guideline determines what, if any, the Pennsylvania Offense Gravity Score (an assigned point value to criminal charges) is assigned to any particular violation, whether it be criminal and/or traffic. In most cases involving criminal offenses, the sentencing guidelines are set forth by the severity of the act. Misdemeanors, in general, have an offense gravity score between zero and five, while the more serious felony offenses have offense gravity scores between five and 14, or more.
The particular sentence is set up via a Sentencing Guidelines Matrix and it takes into account what the legislature has indicated as the Offense Gravity Score of the particular offense, and also considers a person’s prior record or prior record score. When dealing with both the matrix and then an individual faces a potential standard range, mitigated range, or aggregate range sentence, depending on where they fall on that matrix. It is very scientific, however, in most cases, there is only one measure that a court uses in determining that sentence. A court may deviate from the Sentencing Guidelines upward or downward based upon specific details of the case that a court in and of itself finds important.
When dealing solely with an individual’s license, demerit points often last up to three years or more and can accumulate. Once an individual’s license accumulates over a certain number of demerit points, that individual faces an immediate license suspension. Therefore, someone should always be cautious in any traffic offense merely to check the box if allowed to plead guilty and pay the fine because that checking of the box and paying that fine may carry a number of points which may put the individual well over the required number to have their license suspended. When given a traffic citation, it is essential to obtain the services of an experienced traffic lawyer that could challenge a person’s traffic violation in court. A qualified attorney could use their familiarity with the Bucks County demerit point system to advocate for an individual.
At that level of court, negotiations can occur or an acquittal can occur. In acquittals, an individual would have no points against their license and, in some cases, a negotiation can lead to a lesser fine with lesser points or no points at all, and having the charge reduced from 20 miles over the speed limit to merely 5 miles over the speed limit, as an example.
When a driver in Pennsylvania, inclusive of Bucks County, accumulates too many points, their driver’s license is immediately suspended, probably even without proper knowledge given to the individual. If the individual who now has a suspended license would be pulled over for yet another infraction (because the individual is driving while their license is suspended), additional fines and costs in the thousands come in to play and an additional license suspension of up to one year per act.
These things can get out of control very quickly. Having an experienced lawyer on their side who understands the Bucks County demerit point system can be extremely helpful. A dedicated traffic attorney could do their best to protect an individual’s license and their driving rights.
David Clark Attorney at Law