An Overview of § 1772 under the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL)

Section 1772 of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law pertains to the potential suspension of driving privileges due to nonpayment of judgments and the relevant conditions under which the suspension may be circumvented.
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Statutory Text

§ 1772. Suspension for nonpayment of judgments.

(a) General rule.--The department, upon receipt of a certified copy of a judgment, shall suspend the operating privilege of each person against whom the judgment was rendered except as otherwise provided in this section and in section 1775 (relating to installment payment of judgments).

(b) Nonsuspension with consent of judgment creditor.--If the judgment creditor consents in writing, in such form as the department may prescribe, that the judgment debtor's operating privilege be retained or restored, the department shall not suspend or shall restore until the consent is revoked in writing, notwithstanding default in the payment of the judgment, or of any installment thereof prescribed in section 1775, provided the judgment debtor furnishes proof of financial responsibility.

(c) Financial responsibility in effect at time of accident.--Any person whose operating privilege has been suspended, or is about to be suspended or become subject to suspension, under this chapter shall be relieved from the effect of the judgment as prescribed in this chapter if the person files evidence satisfactory to the department that financial responsibility was in force and effect at the time of the accident resulting in the judgment and is or should be available for the satisfaction of the judgment. If insurance already obtained is not available because the insurance company has gone into receivership or bankruptcy, the person shall only be required to present to or file with the department proper evidence that an insurance policy was in force and effect at the time of the accident.

Key Terms:

Judgment:

A decision by the court regarding the rights and liabilities of the parties involved in a dispute. In this context, it refers to the court’s decision on the debts owed as a result of an automobile incident.

Judgment Debtor:

The person against whom a judgment ordering them to pay money has been made. In this context, the driver who is required to compensate due to an automobile accident.

Judgment Creditor:

The person or entity to whom the debt is owed following the court judgment.

Financial Responsibility:

This refers to proving that one can pay for damages resulting from a motor vehicle accident. It typically involves having liability insurance or other financial securities.

Why This Section Matters for Pennsylvanian Drivers:

Pennsylvanian drivers must be cognizant of section 1772 of the MVFRL, as it outlines that nonpayment of judgments can lead to the suspension of their operating privileges. Thus, maintaining financial responsibility by way of ensuring adequate insurances or other financial avenues to cover possible damages is vital. The provision gives some leeway for the driver to continue operating if the judgment creditor grants written consent or if the driver was already covered by an insurance policy at the time of the accident. It emphasizes the significance of fulfilling financial obligations and the importance of insurance to recover from unexpected financial burdens resulting from an accident.

Why This Section Matters for Pennsylvania Attorneys:

A thorough understanding of this section is crucial for Pennsylvania attorneys to accurately advise their clients on how to handle rulings regarding automobile accidents. The criteria under which driving privileges may not be suspended, such as the consent of the judgment creditor, serves to inform negotiation strategies. It is equally important for attorneys in correctly interpreting if their client was financially responsible at the time of the accident.

Advanced Analysis of Language:

The wording used in Section 1772 of the MVFRL is meticulous and intricate. It clarifies the conditions under which the Department might suspend the operating privilege of a person against whom a judgment has been given, leaving little room for ambiguity. It also outlines under what provisions these suspensions can be bypassed or lifted.

The use of phrases such as "shall suspend" and "shall not suspend or shall restore" highlight the directive and legally obligatory nature of the legislation. The phrase "provided the judgment debtor furnishes proof of financial responsibility" implies the necessary condition to be fulfilled for the suspension not to take place or to be lifted.

Furthermore, the language specifically clarifies what constitutes satisfactory evidence to prove financial responsibility, reinforcing the stringent framework surrounding it. The use of terms like "receipt of a certified copy of a judgment", "consents in writing", and "proof of financial responsibility" underline the need for formal and legally acknowledged communications and evidence.

About the author
Von Wooding

Von Wooding

Counsel Stack develops grounded language models equipped with research, retrieval, and drafting tools. We offer legal leads, pre-built intelligent applications, and white label solutions.

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