Driving a car is one essential activity that many of us take for granted. However, driving is a privilege, not a right, and if your right to drive was revoked in the past, then getting behind the wheel can have serious legal ramifications. If you are charged with the offense of driving with a suspended license in Pennsylvania, you risk jail time and significant fines as well as potential classification as a habitual offender, depending on your particular situation.
Pennsylvania takes a harsh stance against drivers who drive while in possession of a revoked or suspended license. Under Section 1543B of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, a driver under license suspension or revocation can fall under two different charges: driving while operating privilege is suspended or revoked – non DUI or DUI-related.
DUI-related driving under license suspension charges is the more serious of the two and comes with a mandatory jail sentence of 60 days and a maximum of 90 days. Offenders are also charged $500 in fines plus any related court costs, and the state may suspend the defendant’s license for an additional 12 months. If the defendant is convicted of three serious traffic violations within a five-year period, then the courts may classify the defendant as a habitual offender, which comes with an additional five-year license suspension.
Non-DUI driving under license suspension charges are less serious, but still carry serious potential penalties, especially if it is not your first offense. First-time offenders face a $200 fine and an additional two years of revocation. Second through fifth offenses see enhanced penalties, with fines of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail. For six or greater offenses, there is a mandatory fine of $1,000, and the defendant is mandatorily jailed for 30 days with the potential for up to six months behind bars.
While the state is strict in its sentencing of offenders who operate motor vehicles without a license, there are some strategies that can lessen the fallout of your charge. Depending on your circumstances, a seasoned Westmoreland County driving under license suspension attorney will seek to have the courts:
- Grant your probation based on your criminal record.
- Reduce your charge to the lesser offense of failure to exhibit license upon demand, which takes the possibility of jail time off the table.
- Reduce your charge to driving without a license, which also eliminates jail time and reduces suspension penalties.
- Order house arrest in lieu of jail time, which allows the defendant to continue to work or go to school.
As you can see, driving on a suspended license is no small thing in Pennsylvania. A conviction can have a serious impact on your future, whether or not you go to jail. In addition to the penalties incurred, you can see your future auto insurance rates inflated or even be unable to find an insurance company willing to write a policy for you.