PA Governor Tom Wolf on Oct. 24, 2018 signed approval upon Act 95 which was enacted from PA House Bill 163 to amend Titles 4 (Amusements), 18 (Crimes and Offenses), and 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes in relation to the suspension of drivers’ licenses for a conviction of PA Law §6308 and corresponding non-vehicular drug offenses.
PA Law §6308, commonly referred to as ‘underage charge’ is defined as, “the purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of liquor or malt or brewed beverages.” Currently, a first offense of this law includes a 90-day suspension of your driver’s license in addition to mandatory fines.
With a driver’s license suspension, numerous young people convicted of an underage alcohol charge are thereby limited in vehicular mobility. This can create difficulty for individuals to secure valuable educational and job opportunities.
PA Representative Rick Saccone of the 39th District has countered this provision with the introduction of House Bill 163. Under this bill, the driver’s license suspension mandate for first offense underage alcohol convictions will be repealed.
Additionally, House Bill 163 extends its repeal of a driver’s license suspension to all drug offenses that are unrelated to the operation of the vehicle. Similarly, various non-drug offenses such as the carry of a false identity, underage purchase of tobacco, and truancy will remove the penalty of a suspended license.
Historically, a driver’s license suspension was mandated for first offenses of PA Law §6308 since 1991.
With the signature from Gov. Wolf, Pennsylvania will join the majority of states with complementary penalties. In fact, only 11 states continue to implement this mandate. Overall, PA House Bill 163 was passed unanimously in the Senate and only incurred one opposing vote in the House.
In regard to the passage of this bipartisan criminal justice reform, Gov. Wolf declared, “this commonsense legislation promotes smart sentencing reform so that an individual may be able to keep their driver’s license after it was taken away for non-driving infractions. Having a valid driver’s license can make a difference in finding and retaining employment.”
In conclusion, this is a win for Pennsylvania freedom and liberty. This amendment seeks the betterment of justice and our criminal system.