Pennsylvania treats drinking and driving very seriously and applies harsh penalties to offenders. Some of these penalties will affect the drunk driver’s finances; others will affect their personal freedom and ability to live their daily lives.
If the state of Pennsylvania revoked your license and driving privileges after a DUI, you’ll likely have difficulty doing the things you used to: dropping your kids off at school, getting groceries, and helping older relatives run errands.
Sometimes, Pennsylvania DUI penalties don’t match the offense. A DUI lawyer will make sure your legal rights are honored and your best interests represented through an effective, tenacious DUI defense.
Call Pennsylvania DUI attorney Steven Kellis today.
How the State Will Let You Know That Your License is Suspended
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not send someone out to collect your license at the scene of your arrest. Instead, PennDOT will notify you by mail that your license has been suspended.
The notification will include a deadline to surrender your license to the Bureau of Driver Licensing. If you fail to hand over your license by the specified date, the police will be notified to retrieve the license themselves.
If you know your license is suspended but have not yet received a notification, or if you suspect your license has been suspended, you can check on its status through several avenues:
- Check your online driving record. You can purchase and print your driving record online through the PennDOT website.
- Submit a driving record request and mail it to the PennDOT office.
- Call customer service. Call the PennDOT customer care line (800) 932-4600 for information on your driving status.
Driver’s License Reinstatement Process
It’s important to know the exact steps in the license reinstatement process. Every case is unique, but if you qualify, you must follow these general steps to get your license back:
- Complete the suspension period – Depending on the severity of your DUI offense, your license may be suspended for 12 to 18 months. Drivers who committed egregious acts while intoxicated (hitting or running over someone) may have a longer suspension period or may not be able to restore their license at all.
- Receive your license restoration requirements letter – This letter is an overview from PennDOT of the issues concerning your driver’s license. It includes the eligibility date to apply for restoration as well as specifics regarding the nature and duration of the suspension.
- Complete all requirements for reinstatement as outlined in the letter – The requirements for reinstating your license will depend on the severity of your charge as well as insurance status.
- Pay any fines or fees – Most suspended licenses come with a $25 reinstatement fee, but some may cost $50 in certain situations, such as when driving uninsured.
- Renew your vehicle registration (if applicable).
For more information about the specific steps needed to restore your PA driver’s license, visit the PA DMV Restoration Options page.
How BAC Factors Into Reinstatement
Each individual’s arrest and circumstances are different, so the defense strategy your lawyer employs will vary depending on the facts of your case. Pennsylvania has a tiered approach for DUI charges and subsequent consequences as well as driver’s license suspensions, meaning penalties will increase with the severity of the DUI charge.
For General Impairment DUI (blood alcohol concentration (BAC) below .10%):
- No suspension for a first offense if the driver meets certain criteria
- Driver’s license suspension of 12 months for a second or subsequent offense
For High BAC DUI offense (greater than .10% but less than .16% BAC) can result in:
- Driver’s license suspension of 12 months for a first and second offense
- Driver’s license suspension of 18 months for a third or subsequent offense
For the Highest BAC DUI offense (.16% or greater BAC):
- Driver’s license suspension of 12 months for the first offense
- Driver’s license suspension of 18 months for a second or subsequent offense
Pennsylvania keeps track of any drunk driving charges you may be charged with in other states. An out-of-state DUI conviction will result in no suspension for the first offense and a 12-month driver’s license suspension for the second or subsequent offense.
An experienced DUI attorney can work with you to regain your driving privileges as your court case is being prosecuted and defended. You will have several options to explore with your attorney:
- Ignition Interlock: You may be able to drive with the installation of an ignition interlock device. While inconvenient and potentially costly, it at least permits an individual to drive to work and other necessary locations.
- Financial Hardship Exemption: Some drivers can obtain an exemption from the requirement to install an interlock device, or it may be required on only one vehicle, and not all vehicles owned or driven by the person charged with a DUI.
- Employment Exemption: Some drivers may need to drive their employer’s vehicles and can obtain an exemption from an ignition interlock device on company cars. School buses or large passenger vehicles are excluded from this exemption.
If you are required to have an ignition interlock device, and you bypass the device or violate its method of operation, the ignition interlock device period can be extended for an additional 12 months.
When you obtain a Pennsylvania DUI attorney to represent you after being charged with a DUI, several things will happen at the same time. Your attorney will:
- Represent your interests with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to regain your driving privileges
- Challenge the evidence or procedures to obtain dropped charges
- Negotiate with the prosecution for lesser charges or lesser punishment
- Represent you in court, should your case go to trial
At any step along the way, your attorney will explain your choices to you so you can weigh the risks and benefits of your decisions.
Restoring Your Pennsylvania Driving Privileges
Without driving privileges, you may be unable to go to work or accomplish other day-to-day tasks. In addition, PennDOT manages a point system that is designed to ensure safe driving. Points are added for a DUI offense as well as other driving offenses such as speeding. Corrective actions begin when there are six points on a person’s driving record and can include driver’s license revocations as well as suspensions.
These measures are often used in excess where the nature of the offense doesn’t match the penalties. You might have made a mistake by drinking and driving, but that doesn’t mean your life has to be over.
Contact The Law Offices of Steven E. Kellis today to set up an initial consultation with a lawyer who will represent your best interests.