WHY YOU SHOULDN’T DRIVE IF YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE IS SUSPENDED AS A RESULT OF A DUI OR DUI RELATED OFFENSE IN PENNSYLVANIA.

  

     Most times, when someone is admitted into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program, or pleads guilty to Driving Under the Influence (DUI), he or she faces a mandatory driver’s license suspension. The range of suspension is based on many factors, including criminal record, blood alcohol level (BAC), and more.  Even without a valid license, some people take the risk of driving while their license is suspended. While this may seem like an innocent act, the consequences of driving under suspension for a DUI, are severe.

            This type of traffic offense is often referred to as a 1543(b) – Driving While Operating Privilege is Suspended or Revoked citation, because that is the Section it can be found in under the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. The legislative purpose behind Section 1543(b) is general deterrence: if you are caught driving a vehicle while your license is suspended for ARD or DUI, you must face consequences, including a mandatory jail sentence. Otherwise, the judicial system would have no check in place to monitor suspended drivers. It is important to note that Section 1543(b) not only applies to ARD and DUI suspensions, but any DUI-related suspensions.  Below are a few examples where DUI-related suspensions come into play.

Consequences of Driving During the ARD Driver’s License Suspension

            If you were admitted into the Chester County or Delaware County ARD program for a DUI, your driver’s license was likely suspended for 30, 60 or 90 days depending upon your BAC. You cannot drive until PennDOT physically sends your driver’s license back to you. If you are caught driving a vehicle before your driving privileges are restored, you will face a mandatory minimum of 60 days in jail.  If you were caught driving with a BAC of .02% or more, you will face a mandatory minimum of 90 days in jail. In addition, you will likely be removed from the ARD program and prosecuted on the original DUI offense.  If convicted of DUI, you will likely face an additional license suspension.

Failure to Restore Your Driving Privileges After a DUI Driver’s License Suspension

            If your Pennsylvania driver’s license is suspended as a result of a DUI, you cannot drive a vehicle until you have completed the steps to restore your driving privileges. This includes paying a restoration fee and waiting for PennDOT to process your restoration. Consider the following example of failure to restore your driver’s license after a DUI conviction:

            Maria pleads guilty to DUI (High Tier). She serves 48 hours in jail and her license is suspended for 1 year.  However, after serving the 1 year suspension, she mistakenly assumes her license is automatically restored, and begins driving again. Almost 2 years after she pled guilty to DUI, she is stopped for speeding and given a 1543(b) citation.

Day                            Offense                       License Suspension                 Minimum Jail Time

1                                  DUI                             1 year                                                  48 hours

720                           1543(b)                       1 year                                                 60 days

            Maria may have thought she was in the clear to drive, but this is not the case. Even though she served the 1 year license suspension, her license was still suspended because she never made the effort to restore her driving privileges. Thus, she remained indefinitely suspended – DUI related. If she is found guilty of the 1543(b) citation, she will have to serve at least 60 days in jail, and her license will be suspended for an additional 1 year. She could still be cited for a 1543(b) citation until she makes the effort to actually restore her license.

Driver’s License Suspension Based Upon Refusal to Submit to Blood/Breath Test

            When you drive on the roads of Pennsylvania, you are agreeing to “implied consent” – meaning that if you are investigated for DUI, you agree to provide a chemical sample of your blood, breath or urine. If you refuse, your license will be suspended for at least one year, even if you are not convicted of the DUI. Consider the following example of how a DUI refusal can escalate:

            Ron is arrested for DUI, but refuses to provide a chemical sample. He pleads guilty to DUI and his license is suspended for 1 year. Because he refused, his license is suspended for an additional 1 year. He mistakenly thinks both suspensions run concurrently. After serving over one year of a suspended license, he is caught drunk driving. He is arrested for another DUI (BAC is .17%) and he is cited for 1543(b), because he was driving on a DUI-related suspended license. He pleads guilty to a second offense DUI (Highest Tier) and 1543(b) – Driving on a Suspended License DUI Related.

Day                             Offense                       License Suspension                 Minimum Jail Time

1                                  DUI                               1 year                                                   72 hours

1                                  Refusal                        1 year

724                            DUI – Highest          18 months                                        90 days

724                            1543(b)                         1 year                                               90 days

            Ron’s situation went from worse to unthinkable. His license was still suspended at the time of his second DUI arrest because he refused to provide a chemical sample. As a second offense with a BAC of .17%, he is sentenced to an 18 months license suspension and 90 days in jail. However, that’s not all. Because his license was suspended due to a DUI related offense (refusal), and his BAC was more than .02%, he faces an additional 1 year license suspension and an additional minimum of 90 days in jail. In total, he will serve 4 ½ years of a suspended license and over half a year of incarceration.

Out of State DUI Convictions and 1543(b) Citations

            When you are cited for a 1543(b) citation, you are not arrested and immediately taken to jail. As a result, some people consider these traffic offenses as minor and unimportant. All 1543(b) citations carry some jail time and license suspension, and these penalties increase if caught driving with more than .02% of a blood alcohol level. Consider the following situation where 1543(b) citations were not taken seriously:

            Eric was busted for DUI in Delaware County, PA and pled guilty. His BAC was so low that his license was not suspended. Later, he is convicted of DUI in Townsend, Maryland. As a result, PennDOT suspends his PA license for one year. A few weeks later, he is caught driving with a BAC of .03%. Although he was not arrested, he was cited for 1543(b)(1)(1.1.)(i). A few months after that, despite being careful during happy hour, Eric is caught driving again, with a BAC of .021%, and cited for a second offense 1543(b)(1)(1.1.)(i). He pleads guilty to both citations.

Day                             Offense                       License Suspension                 Minimum Jail Time

1                                   DUI

365                              DUI – MD                   1 year

390                              1543(b)                        1 year                                                  90 days

450                              1543(b) – 2nd            1 year                                                 6 months

            Without knowing the consequences, Eric pled guilty to an out of state DUI. This is also considered a DUI-related offense under Pennsylvania law, so PennDOT suspended his PA license. When he was caught driving with a BAC of .02%, he was cited under the most severe provisions of Section 1543(b), and both of the punishments increased. His first 1543(b)(1)(1.1.)(i) conviction carried a minimum of 90 days in jail and an additional one year license suspension. His second 1543(b)(1)(1.1.)(i) conviction was a misdemeanor and carried at least 6 months in jail and an additional one year license suspension. Within a span of two years, he will serve 9 months in jail.

Contact an Attorney Today

            Each of the above scenarios has different consequences, but the message is the same: driving on a suspended license – DUI related is a serious offense that will put you in jail and suspend your license for a long time. If you are cited for a 1543(b) traffic offense, it is very important to call an attorney. Considering the specific facts of your case, there may be valid defenses to the charges, or possibilities to limit the amount of jail time involved. The attorneys at Skinner Law Firm have dealt with a variety of scenarios that are punishable under Section 1543(b), including DUI, ARD, refusal and other DUI-related offenses. Call us today to discuss your options.

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