In Pennsylvania, if you get a lot of tickets, you end up losing your driver’s license.  Its just a fact of life.  By far, the most common length of license suspension is for one year (1) year.  But if you get the wrong types of tickets, within a rather short period of time, you can trigger what is called a “habitual offender” suspension and at that point the driver is in for a world of pain.  

Here is the lowdown:

75 Pa.C.S.A. Sec. 1542(b) sets forth a list of driving offenses that the Pennsylvania legislature has deemed to be “really bad” to get convicted of.  For what reasons – only they’re sure.  The offenses are:

  • DUI
  • Illegally operating a motor vehicle not equipped with ignition interlock;
  • Driving a vehicle with an open container of alcohol present;
  • Operating a vehicle while license is suspended due to a DUI;
  • Drag racing;
  • Accidents involving death or personal injury;
  • Accidents involving damage to attended vehicle or property;
  • Homicide By vehicle;
  • Fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer;
  • Driving without lights on to avoid identification or arrest;
  • Homicide by vehicle while under the influence;
  • Aggravated assault by vehicle while under the influence;
  • Reckless Driving.

Thats the list.  Sec. 1541(a) sets forth that if a driver gets three (3) convictions within five (5) years of any combination of the above offenses then PennDot will suspend that drivers license for five (5) years.  Brutal.  As a Pa. drivers license lawyer, I have seen the  “habitual offender” suspension a lot.   If you get it, there is really only one thing you can do:  Appeal as many of the underlying convictions that caused the suspension as you can, no matter if the appeal is late.  An experienced Pennsylvania suspended license lawyer will know how to file a late appeal.  The late appeal is called a “Petition To Appeal Nunc Pro Tunc” and it is a request to allow the court to let you appeal your ticket even though you are past the 30 day appeal time.  This petition in itself is highly specialized and must be done properly to be effective.  That said, if there are three convictions and one is appealed successfully, then now you have only two violations, and Penndot must lift the suspension.   Note:  Filing an appeal with Penndot will do nothing – the driver must go back to the Court of Common Pleas and get one of those charges knocked out via appeal.  Simple as that.

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