Written by Gregory Monte.
This blog post only addresses Pennsylvania law, and the short answer is “yes.” As for other states, the small amount of research I did indicates that this information is not required anywhere else in the United States.
Pennsylvania’s Title 75, Section 3366 is pretty straightforward:
“In every charge of violation of a speed provision in this subchapter, except for a violation of section 3361 (relating to driving vehicle at safe speed), the citation or complaint shall specify the speed at which the defendant is alleged to have driven and the applicable speed limit.”
So why do an entire blog post about this topic?
Because there is actually one section of the speeding subchapter (besides 3361) which the courts have decided does not require this information – although they have not always ruled as such.
A Short Judicial History
The section in question is 3367, and it concerns racing on the highways. Back in 1979, the court ruled that even this violation required the speed to be noted on the citation – Com. v. Morris, 407 A. 2d 1350 – Pa: Superior Court 1979:
“Sections 3366 and 3367 are both a part of the subchapter F of the code. The language of Section 3366 is clear and unambiguous and mandatory. To say that § 3367(b) is not a speed provision of the act is to blind oneself to its language and should the Legislature have intended to exempt it from the mandate of § 3366 it would have done so as it did with § 3361.”
But, as you are probably aware, sometimes decisions are overruled – and such is the case here. Because Section 3367 comes after 3366, the Court of Common Pleas in 1986 ruled that the speed notation requirement was not necessary – Commonwealth v. Dashiell, 45 Pa. D. & C. 3d 301 – Pa: Court of Common Pleas 1986:
“Section 3366 is clearly referring to those sections of subchapter F that are previously set forth, i.e., sections 3361 through 3365. The Legislature did not place section 3366 in the middle of subchapter F for no reason. The subsequent sections of subchapter F are not ‘speed provisions.’“
The PA Supreme Court settled this issue for good the very same year when it specifically overruled the Commonwealth v. Morris decision from 1979 – Com. v. Frye, 516 A. 2d 38:
“Because proof of a particular speed is not an essential element of the offense of racing on the highways in this case, we must reject and overrule our previous decision in Commonwealth v. Morris, supra, which mandates a discharge absent an allegation of speed.”
Using Technicalities to Beat Traffic Tickets
My defense strategy relies entirely on finding technicalities in the law which judges have to accept. If you think your personal testimony will get you anywhere in the courtroom, you are bound to lose because judges overwhelmingly believe the police over the defendant. If you are interested in some more information about how I recommend fighting tickets, I suggest you check out my three free PDF’s.
4 thoughts on “Does a Speeding Ticket Have to Indicate Your Speed?”
One fellow called the cop to the stand. After he was sworn in, he asked if the cop if he’d given him a break and written a lower speed than he cited at the time of issuing the ticket. The cop, probably thinking it would paint him in a good light, said yes. The defendant, then asked the cop if he wrote the ticket and signed it under penalty of perjury. Of course, he admitted to it. At that point, the defendant asked the case be dismissed, since the cop had just admitted lying in the declaration supporting the ticket. The judge dismissed.
But can’t the cop avoid this possibility by writing in the notes section that he did give the break? Wouldn’t this cover him?
Regarding your statement about defendant testimony seldom, if ever, getting one out of a fine, I’d add the following:
If you look at court rule books written by West and Mitchee you will note there are three categories of rules. They are civil rules, criminal rules and infractions. This begs the question “what do infractions fall under?”
Back around the sixties, going over the speed limit was a crime. To get a conviction, a city, county or the state had to convene a jury of peers, the peers were required to presume you innocent, until proven guilty, and the government entity had to prove your guilt to get a guilty verdict.
“In our best interests,” that just happened to be very convenient and profitable for government entities, law makers and influencers convinced the public decriminalizing many of the traffic laws would work in the public’s best interest, by removing the stigma of having a criminal record if found, for example, to have exceeded a speed limit by ten miles an hour.
Of course, not mentioned was, no longer would you be judged by your peers, and you would no longer be presumed innocent. Instead, tickets, now, carry the presumption what the agent said is true. Accordingly, the person cited must, perhaps magically, overcome the presumption. That is, you must prove you did not do the act claimed.
Keep in mind, elsewhere in law, the norm is, you cannot be required to prove a negative. The reason for this is simple, it is almost impossible to prove something was not done, versus proving something was done.
Because the presumption of infraction guilt is so difficult to overcome, the only out from a finding you committed the infraction is procedural error, which is the technicality mentioned above.
That may be as simple as citing the fact the ticket was not timely filed, the affidavit referred to on a ticket was never written or filed, or other violation of court’s or agency rules.
Do you mind if I quote this entire comment and make it a post? I think it provides an interesting perspective on what a citation has become.