Now in Effect: Pennsylvania Won’t Suspend Driver’s Licenses for Non-Driving Offenses

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(WBRE/WYOU-TV)   A law signed by Governor Tom Wolf in October 2018, is now in effect.  The law eliminates driver’s license suspensions for non-driving infractions in Pennsylvania. The law amends Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to reflect that a driving privilege suspension will no longer be imposed for certain non-highway safety violations, including substance use violations.

“The General Assembly stepped up and enacted this commonsense legislation that promotes smart sentencing reform but there is more work to do,” Governor Wolf said in a prepared release. “We need to break down even more unnecessary and especially difficult roadblocks to success and stability. Having a valid driver’s license often is the key to finding and keeping a job, especially in parts of Pennsylvania where public transportation isn’t readily accessible.

“We must ensure penalties promote rehabilitation, instead of the opposite. We need to make this our goal when it comes to probation and parole, and bail policies. If our policies make a second chance harder, especially in a way that is disproportional by economic status, they need to change.”  

The law that Act 95 amended was one of many Congress enacted to punish drug crimes in the early 1990s when the War on Drugs sought to significantly reduce drug crimes. Congress had threatened states with reduced federal highway funding if they didn’t enact the automatic driver’s licenses suspensions for drug crimes.

Over the next two decades, states began using a provision of the federal law that allowed them to opt out of these suspensions. Pennsylvania’s Act 95 allows that the state will no longer automatically suspend upwards of 20,000 driver’s licenses each year for reasons that don’t include driving offenses.

“I hope the nine remaining states with this archaic law will follow Pennsylvania’s lead in championing commonsense criminal justice reform such as ending driver’s license suspensions for non-driving offenses.”

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