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Pennsylvania Driving and Traffic Laws

Pennsylvania driving and traffic laws are regulations that are designed to keep drivers safe on state roads and highways. If you are new to the state, or even if you have lived in PA your whole life, you need to become acquainted with these laws as a driver in the state. Thorough knowledge of the rules of the road will not only help keep you safe, but can also protect you from being pulled over and cited by law enforcement officials, thereby saving you money both in the way of fines and possible increases in your Pennsylvania auto insurance premiums.

Financial Responsibility in PA

Pennsylvania is a financial responsibility state when it comes to vehicle registration and auto insurance. This means that in Pennsylvania, drivers are required to maintain current registration on their vehicles. One of the requirements for eligibility to have a vehicle registered is adequate auto insurance coverage. PA drivers must demonstrate financial responsibility for themselves and for their vehicles in order to legally drive on state roads.

They can do this in one of two ways: either by maintaining adequate auto liability insurance in keeping with state minimum standards, or by demonstrating financial responsibility through alternative means, such as purchasing a bond or depositing cash with the PennDOT. Most drivers in the state do not have the financial solvency necessary to demonstrate the financial means to support self-insurance, so the remaining option for most of us is to purchase a liability policy. Liability insurance policies in Pennsylvania have to meet minimum state guidelines for coverage. Failure to meet state requirements for registration or auto insurance can result in driver's license and/or registration suspension for a period of three months. Proof of financial responsibility is covered under chapter 17 of the PA vehicle code.

Examples of Pennsylvania Traffic Regulations

The Pennsylvania vehicle code contains a comprehensive listing of the state's regulations regarding the ownership and operation of automobiles in the state. It includes listings of rules and regulations on topics ranging from licensing procedures for first-time drivers to the consequences of alcohol-related driving offenses to general rules of the road in Pennsylvania. There are some notable examples of regulations from the Pennsylvania vehicle code worth highlighting for new state residents and those who wish to know more about the rules of the road in PA.

PA vehicle code chapter 38 deals with the ever-present problem of dealing with drunk drivers on the road. Taking a few highlights from the drinking and driving code serves to summarize the seriousness of committing a DUI or DWI infraction in Pennsylvania. According to state law, a driver is considered to be in a state of general impairment if his or her blood alcohol is between 0.08 and 0.10 percent within two hours of driving an automobile. A high rate of alcohol is anywhere between 0.10 and 0.16 percent, and the highest rate according to the PA vehicle code is anywhere above 0.16 percent.

Drivers found guilty of driving under general impairment are subject to six months' probation and a fine on the first offence, with required alcohol driving safety classes. The consequences increase for higher rates of alcohol impairment and for subsequent offenses. Drivers found guilty of driving while registering a BAC of over 0.16 percent must spend a minimum of 72 hours in jail and pay a minimum $1000 fine. As an example of the seriousness of this offense in legal terms, the sentence increases to 90 days for those found guilty a second time [1].

A concern for safety is really at the heart of all the rules in the PA vehicle code. Not all the rules are as concerned with punitive consequences as are those involving DUI infractions. Many of the rules are more prescriptive, such as the regulations involving seat belt use and child safety seats. Granted, there are certain fines drivers can be assessed for failure to abide by these rules, but their main intent is to keep drivers safe. Children under the age of four are required to be in approved child safety seats and seat belted. From the age of four until eight, they need special booster seats. From eight until the age of eighteen, children in PA must wear a seat belt regardless of what seat of the car they are occupying. Adults also have to wear seat belts whenever they are in the front seat of a vehicle.

In keeping with the theme of child safety, the PA vehicle code also has stipulations regarding teen drivers obtaining licensure. Teens reaching the age of 16 can obtain a junior license, which enables them to drive in limited circumstances until they gain a year of driving experience. One example of the limits placed upon junior drivers is a restriction on driving between 11pm and 5am, with certain exceptions applying. Drivers who are 17 years of age and have at least twelve months' worth of driving experience are eligible for full licensure without restriction. Any driver who reaches the age of 18, or any new driver 18 or older, can receive a full license to drive in the state of Pennsylvania.

Safety is also at the heart of speed limits posted on state roads and highways all throughout the state. Posted freeway speeds are 65 miles per hour unless otherwise noted. Road construction is one common reason for adjusted speed limits, and drivers are always advised to drive with extreme care through work zones. Residential speed limits are 25 miles per hour unless otherwise posted, and speed limits in urban districts are at 35 miles per hour. All other highways have a speed limit of 55 miles per hour unless otherwise posted.

The state of Pennsylvania also has "reasonable and prudent" clauses in its vehicle code providing for discretion on the part of law enforcement officials to act to pull drivers over even if they are not exceeding posted speed limit in certain situations. If the weather or visibility is inclement or the road conditions otherwise unfavorable, for example, drivers are advised to take an extra measure of caution and slow down to adjust for driving conditions. Posted speed limits are not a hard and fast rule, only a maximum in assumption of ideal conditions for driving.

Traffic Laws and Auto Insurance

Understanding and following the traffic laws in your home state are important for your own safety and for the safety of others sharing the road with you. But it's also important to know the rules of the road in the context of your auto insurance premiums. One major factor used in determining the rates you pay for auto insurance is your driving record. If you have a history of major moving violations, for example, or DUI offenses, the affordability of your coverage will be severely impacted. Make it a point, then, to understand Pennsylvania driving and traffic laws, and to make it a point to drive in accordance with them. Not only will you be safer and less likely to be encountered by a law enforcement official, but you will also very likely save long-term on your car insurance premiums.

 

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