A driver’s license is a privilege, not a right. But it is an indispensable privilege, one that enables us to commute to work (to make a living) and to remain socially connected with one another. This privilege, however, is susceptible to being taken away under a variety of circumstances.
This post lists the many ways a driver may lose their license in Pennsylvania, and it concludes by highlighting criminal provisions that apply to those driving with a suspended license. To that point . . . the many ways to lose your driver’s license are as follows*:
- Be under 21 and misrepresent your age to secure alcohol. 18 Pa.C.S §§ 6307, 6310.4
- Be under 21 and purchase (or attempt), possess, consume, or knowingly transport alcohol. 18 Pa.C.S. §§ 6308, 6310.4
- Be under 21 and possess a fake ID. 18 Pa.C.S. §§ 6310.3, 6310.4
- Conviction of a felony the commission of which a court determines that a vehicle was essentially involved. 75 Pa.C.S. § 1532(a)(1)
- Conviction for racing on highways. 75 Pa.C.S. § 1532(b)(1)
- Conviction for reckless driving. 75 Pa.C.S. § 1532(b)(1)
- Conviction for careless driving under Section 3714(b). 75 Pa.C.S. § 1532(b)(1)
- Two or more convictions, within 5 years, of 75 Pa.C.S. § 1501(a) (relating drivers required to be licensed). 75 Pa.C.S. § 1532(b)(2)
- Conviction involving the possession, sale, delivery of any controlled substance. 75 Pa.C.S. § 1532(c)
- Be under 21 and be convicted of making terroristic threats while on any school property. 75 Pa.C.S. § 1532(c)
- Failure to respond to a citation or pay restitution. 75 Pa.C.S. § 1533(a)
- Conviction, or acceptance into ARD, for a DUI. 75 Pa.C.S. §§ 3804, 3807
- Refusal to submit to a chemical test once placed under arrest for DUI. 75 Pa.C.S. 1547(b)
- Operating or permitting the operation of a vehicle without insurance. 75 Pa.C.S. § 1786(d)(1)
- Failure to pay judgments. 75 Pa.C.S. § 1772(a)
- Conviction for exceeding the speed limit by 11 MPH or more in an active work zone. 75 Pa.C.S. § 1535(e)(2)
- Accumulation of 11 points or more on a driver’s license. 75 Pa.C.S. § 1539(a)
*This list is not complete but a sampling of common ways to lose a driver’s license that the public may be unaware of.
It is not uncommon that when a driver’s license is suspended the driver may be unaware and they continue to drive, or a driver may continue to drive mistakenly believing that the license has already been reinstated. Under these circumstances, therefore, drivers can run the risk of being convicted of a summary offense of driving while their license is suspended. See 75 Pa.C.S. § 1543.
In these instances, the penalties for a conviction for driving under suspension can be steep. For a conviction under Section 1543(a), there’s a mandatory fine of $200 and an additional period of suspension. (For those convicted under 1543(a) six or more times, there is minimum fine of $1,000 and a minimum 30-day jail sentence.) For a conviction under Section 1543(b)—which pertains to driving while under a DUI suspension—there is a mandatory fine of $500 and a minimum 60-day jail sentence and an additional period of suspension. Any penalty imposed under 1543(b), however, my be converted into a house-arrest sentence. See 42 Pa.C.S. § 9763(c). (Note: the law does not provide such an exception for repeat 1543(a) convictions.)
In sum, therefore, when it comes to driver’s licenses, the ways to lose a driver’s license are varied. And when it comes to driving without a license or while under suspension, the penalties can be steep. In this area, accordingly, it is best not to deal with PennDOT on your own without the assistance of an attorney in resolving licensing issues. Doing so generally will only cause more headaches.