So, You Can Keep Your Driver’s License? by Andrew J. Race, Esquire

The short answer is it depends. Since 1991, Pennsylvania has had a law providing for a mandatory suspension of a person’s driver’s license for convictions such as possession of a small amount of marijuana, carrying false ID, underage purchase of tobacco, underage purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of alcohol, or even truancy. Each offense carried a longer suspension.

In 2018, however, House Bill 163 was passed unanimously in the State Senate and with only one negative vote in the State House of Representatives. House Bill 163 removes the license suspension associated with non-vehicle related offenses, such as those described above. It even goes so far as to remove the license suspension associated with failure to pay child or spousal support.

As stated by the ACLU of Pennsylvania,

“[t]he suspension of a person’s driver’s license for offenses not related to driving has always been illogical and counter-productive. A driver’s license is essential for functioning in daily life for many people, especially in areas of the commonwealth where public transportation is limited.”

This change was welcome in Pennsylvania where nearly 149,000 people had their licenses suspended under the “old law” between 2011 and 2016. It is expected to have a positive effect on more than 20,000 people per year who would otherwise have suffered driver’s license suspensions.

The Bill was signed on October 24, 2018. It went into effect on April 22, 2019. This is important to note because the Bill is specifically not retro-active. This means than any driver’s license suspension under the “old law” which occurred before April 22, 2019 is binding and cannot be changed.

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