Chester County Driving on Suspended License Attorney
Pennsylvania Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License
Pennsylvania drivers who operate their vehicles without a valid license is a growing concern for state officials. This type of violation is considered an “invisible” violation, because, unlike speeding, or other traffic offenses, a patrol officer cannot readily observe a driver who is driving without a valid license. In most all cases, the lack of a driver’s license only comes to light after the driver is pulled over for another offense.
A study done two decades ago estimated that as many as 80 percent of those who don’t have a valid driver’s license drive anyway. It is hard to say what that number is today, however the NHTSA estimates that as many as 18 percent of all fatal crashes involve at least one improperly licensed driver. In 2007, it was estimated that more than 10 percent of Pennsylvania’s 8.5 million licensed drivers were under suspension. Pennsylvania drivers who drive while their license is suspended can face serious consequences, including a jail term if the suspension is DUI-related.
Those who have had a driver’s license suspension face a number of problems, particularly if they live in rural areas where they cannot rely on public transportation to get to and from work, to school, or even to go to the grocery store. We are a nation of drivers, with 253 million registered vehicles in the United States. Even in more populated areas which have public transportation, the majority of adults own a car, and use that car regularly. So, just how much trouble are you in, if you have been cited for driving on a suspended license in the state of Pennsylvania? That depends on the circumstances surrounding your suspension.
Typical Reasons for a Pennsylvania Driver’s License Suspension
Your driver’s license could be suspended or revoked for specific driving offenses, some criminal convictions, or certain other matters, such as child support arrears. Like many states, Pennsylvania has a points-based system for determining when a driver’s license may be suspended. When 11 or more points accrue on your driving record, your license may be suspended under 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 1539. The length of your suspension will depend on the number of points you have accumulated, and whether you have a prior suspension. Further, the state of Pennsylvania may deem you a habitual offender if you have accrued a number of convictions related to:
- Some traffic accidents
- Driving while under the influence
- Serious traffic offenses
- Driving while your license is revoked or suspended
Your driver’s license could also be suspended if you fail to respond to a summons ordering you to appear for a traffic violation, or if you fail to respond to a citation. Some criminal convictions in the state of Pennsylvania can also trigger a license suspension. These include:
- Homicide by vehicle
- Aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence
- Any felony in which a vehicle was used to facilitate the crime
- Careless driving
- Reckless driving
- Racing on highways
- Some accidents which involve property damage, injuries or a fatality
Driving on a Suspended License for a Non-DUI Reason
Under 1543a, there is no mandatory sentence for a first offense of driving on a suspended license (non-DUI-related). That being said, some district courts in the state can and do sentence offenders to jail time, and you could face up to 90 days in jail and a $200 fine, as well as a suspension of at least one additional year. Subsequent offenses of driving on a suspended license are punishable by up to six months in jail.
Defenses to Driving on a Suspended License for a Non-DUI Reason
In order to prove your guilt for the offense of driving on a suspended license for a non-DUI reason, the state is required to show that you had actual notification of the suspension from PennDot. The fact that the notification was mailed may not be sufficient, however if you move, and neglect to change your address, the notification can be mailed to your old address and it will be considered sufficient. In other words, while it is possible that you truly had no notice of your suspension, it could be difficult—but not impossible—to prove. Many people are also under the mistaken belief that as soon as their year’s suspension is up, they are automatically reinstated to drive. This is not true, and has caused many drivers to end up with an additional suspension simply because they did not know they had to have their license restored by PennDot. Usually, this is as simple as sending in a form with a fee of $25.00, but it is important that you not start driving until you receive notification from PennDot.
Driving with a Suspended License Following a DUI Suspension
The penalties for driving with a suspended license when the license was suspended as a result of a DUI are much harsher than non-DUI suspensions. If you are found driving on a suspended license after a DUI conviction, you could be charged with a summary offense, and could receive a sentence of between 60 and 90 days in jail, and a $500 fine. If you are found driving on a suspended license after a DUI conviction, and you have a certain amount of alcohol in your system when you are stopped (over 0.02%), you could face jail time of at least 90 days, and a $1,000 fine.
If you are convicted of this offense for a second time (a third-degree misdemeanor), you could face at least six months in jail, and a $2,500 fine. A third offense is a first-degree misdemeanor, and a conviction could cost you up to $5,000 in fines and at least two years in prison. With any of these convictions, you could also have your license suspended or revoked for an additional length of time, and, in certain situations, your vehicle may also be impounded.
How We Can Help
Whether you were charged with driving on a suspended license following a DUI, or driving on a suspended license non-DUI, the attorneys at the Ciccarelli Law Offices can help. We have several options we will consider, depending on your specific circumstances, such as fighting the basis for the stop, negotiating a downward departure to avoid DUS, or, in some cases, getting you on Intermediate Punishment (supervised probation) in order to avoid or reduce jail time. We will address the underlying circumstances of your charges, making sure you are not doubly punished, or unjustly accused of an offense. Our attorneys will fight for your freedom, as well as for the preservation or restoration of your driving privileges. At Ciccarelli Law Offices, success is our mission—we are driven to serve and ready to fight. Contact Ciccarelli Law Offices at (610)-692-8700.