Mandatory license suspensions eliminated

People in Pennsylvania who are convicted of criminal drug offenses can often face extensive challenges trying to rehabilitate and rebuild their lives. Unfortunately, there are times when the laws get in the way of allowing that to happen. An example of this is the requirement that any person who is convicted of a drug crime will lose their driver’s license for at least six months. 

This law has been in place since a 1994 federal regulation went into effect that mandated this. If states did not comply with this regulation, they would lose substantial and important federal funding for highways. Sadly, this has resulted in far too many people losing their licenses even if their drug offenses had nothing to do with driving. The lack of being able to drive can impede a person’s ability to keep an existing job or find a new job, making it difficult to recover from a criminal experience.

According to the Equal Justice Under Law group, the state of Pennsylvania has suspended approximately 150,000 drivers’ licenses since 2011 after the people were convicted of various drug offenses.

A component of the federal regulation allows for states to formally express opposition to the stipulation that all convicted offenders lose their license for at least six months. Pennsylvania recently did this and now will no longer automatically suspend the drivers’ licenses of everyone convicted of any type of drug crime. This may be one step forward for some people, giving them a better chance at moving forward after a criminal conviction.