PA Legislature ending license suspension for drug charges & underage drinking?

Pennsylvania Legislature considering end to driver’s license suspension for drug charges and underage drinking- related offenses.

In Pennsylvania, several summary and criminal charges have carried a significant collateral consequence- a driver’s license suspension.   For example, an individual convicted of underage drinking currently receives a license suspension (90 days for a first offense, one year for a second offense, two years for a third offense).  A person convicted of a drug offense (even an offense as minor as possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use) loses driving privileges for 6 months for a first offense, and one year for a second or subsequent offense.

These provisions have come under criticism because there need not be any unlawful or unsafe operation of a vehicle involved in the offense to trigger the suspension.  Another consequence of the policy adversely affects individuals seeking treatment for drug dependency, who have found it more difficult to participate in counseling and treatment (particularly in rural areas) if they do not maintain a driver license.   Finally, the ability to seek and maintain employment is much more difficult without a driver’s license.

The PA legislature is currently considering HB 0163, which is expected to pass through the legislature and be signed by Governor Wolfe, and which will be effective 180 days after enactment.  HB 0163 removes the suspension for underage drinking, possession of false identification, and drug offenses.  However, it is important to note that current suspensions for these offenses remain in effect, and if an individual is convicted before the law becomes effective, the suspension will apply.

If you are charged with a drug offense or underage drinking, you should speak with a qualified attorney to determine if there is a way that this new legislation will help you retain your driving privileges.  Call The Mazza Law Group, PC, to schedule a consultation today.