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Recidivist Offenses Under the Vehicle Code

A "recidivist offense" is an offense for which there are escalating penalties for subsequent convictions of the same offense.

Police officer writing a traffic citation while an unfortunate driver looks on from his car. Stock Photo - 3010334

By Attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Traffic Ticket Attorney, Harrisburg, PA

In PA there are certain driving offenses known as "recidivist offenses." That is, an offense that has increased penalties for a subsequent conviction. For instance, the most prevalent recidivist offense in the Motor Vehicle Code is Driving Under the Influence. But, there are much less obvious crimes that require an increased penalty that may elude the regular person if they are not careful and speak to an attorney beforehand.

For instance, the crime of Driving Under Suspension, 75 Pa.C.S.A. Section 1543(a) is a summary offense the first time you are caught. Meaning, the maximum fine is not more than 90 days in jail, a $200 fine and an additional license suspension of 12 months. Most likely, for a first instance, there will be no jail time. This is a completely different offense from 1543(b), which is for Driving Under Suspension/DUI related. That first offense carries a mandatory low of 60 days in jail up to 90 days in jail and another 12 month license suspension.

If you are caught again for Driving Under Suspension, 1543(a), it's a range of fines from $200-$1,000 and/or up to 6 months in jail. If you've been cited a sixth or subsequent time for 1543(a) it's a mandatory 30 days in jail up to 6 months and no less than a $1,000 fine.

Bottom line, if you've been charged with a driving offense in PA, it's important to check with an experienced traffic attorney before you enter a guilty plea. It's also important to know your driving record. You can get a copy of yours by logging into PADOT's website and requesting one. (See this link). It will help your attorney pinpoint any potential pitfalls for you if you plead guilty to one charge as opposed to another.

You may call Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC (717) 268-4287.