This morning I represented a client at a summary appeal hearing in the Berks County Court of Common Pleas. A summary appeal is an appeal of a conviction in a summary case, which takes place at a magisterial district court. Typically, these cases are traffic related and found under Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, although there are many other non-traffic summary citations that exist.
My client was pulled over back in March of 2010 and charged with driving on a suspended license under 75 Pa.C.S.A. 1543(a). My client was very surprised to find out that her license was suspended. As it turned out, her license was suspended due to a paperwork error, and she immediately took action to have her license restored the very next day. However, the 1543(a) citation was already issued, and, after appearing in district court unrepresented, she plead guilty to the 1543(a) citation. After speaking with the officer, my client was under the mistaken belief that the guilty plea to the 1543(a) citation would result only in fines and costs. Shortly after pleading guilty, however, she received notice from PennDOT that her license would be suspended for one (1) full year. This scenario underscores the importance of being represented by a skilled and experienced attarney, even in seemingly simple matters involving traffic citations.
My client works full-time and has a fairly long commute to work. Therefore, she absolutely could not afford to lose her license for one (1) year. A summary appeal was filed, which stayed (delayed) the start of my client’s license suspension for a period of six (6) months. Therefore, at least my client was able to continue to drive while the summary appeal was pending.
At the court hearing this morning, I was prepared to make an argument to the Judge that my client should not be found guilty of the 1543(a) citation. However, prior to the start of the summary trial, I was approached by the officer and the assistant district attarney working the case. After explaining my arguments and my client’s predicament to them, I was offered a plea “deal”. My client could plead guilty to 75 Pa.C.S.A. 1501(a), Driver’s Required To Be Licensed, instead of the 1543(a) citation. This would result in no license suspension for my client, and the only penalty would be a moderate fine. After discussing the pros and cons of the deal with my client, she decided to accept the offer. Although we had some valid arguments to make at the summary trial, no outcome is guaranteed once the case is in the Judge’s hands. The “guarantee” of no license suspension was very important to my client, and she was very happy with the outcome of the case.
If you have been charged with a traffic offense or are having difficulty getting your driver’s license restored, please contact my office to schedule a no-cost consultation. I would be happy to meet to discuss the specific details of your case.