Driver’s License Suspension

Pennsylvania DUI driver’s license suspensions are handled by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot).  The Department has the authority to suspend or revoke the driver’s licenses and driving privileges of those arrested for DUI.  Driver’s License suspensions are not imposed by a criminal trial judge.  A report of your conviction is sent to PennDot by the court and PennDot determines the suspension.
 
If you are arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania, your license will be suspended if you refuse to submit to a breath/blood test or if you provide a chemical test result of .08 or higher.  Upon conviction, the Criminal Court Judge is required to send to PennDot a form detailing your conviction.  PennDot then determines your suspension period and notifies you, usually within 4-6 weeks of conviction.  The Criminal Court Judge does not have any ability change the term of your driver’s license suspension which is determined solely by PennDot.  There are no harship exceptions as PennDot applies the law equally to everyone.
 
Implied Consent Law–  Each person who drives in the state of Pennsylvania is deemed to have given his/her consent to one or more chemical tests of their breath, blood, or urine upon a lawful request.   A request is considered lawful where the police have reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving, operating, or in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle while under the influence of controlled substances and/or alcohol. Failure to comply with a lawful request will be considered a “refusal.” The fact that you refused to take a test will be admissible against you in court as evidence of your guilt.
 
Once placed into police custody, a Pennsylvania DUI suspect must be read his/her implied consent rights if a chemical test is going to be requested. The implied consent rights inform individuals of the consequences of their refusal so that they may make an inform decision of whether or not they wish to take the test. Failure of the police to advise suspects of their implied consent rights may become an issue that will affect the admissibility of the test results or evidence of refusal.
 
CONSEQUENCES OF CHEMICAL TEST REFUSAL – Pennsylvania DUI law requires additional penalties to be imposed upon DUI suspects who refuse to submit to chemical test analysis. Refusals carry an automatic suspension of your driver’s license or privilege to drive within the state for a period of 1 year, or 18 months if you previously refused chemical testing. The driver’s license suspension that flows from your refusal is in ADDITION to whatever suspension may be ordered by the court as part of your sentence in your criminal DUI case.  The Arresting Police Officer is generally responsible for sending a report to PennDot, informing them of your alleged refusal to submit to chemical testing.  PennDot will then, within a few weeks, send to you a letter informing you of your driver’s license suspension.
 
STATUTORY APPEALS HEARING
 
Although your driver’s license is said to be automatically suspended for 1 year upon your refusal to submit to a chemical test, you still have the opportunity to contest the suspension by requesting what is called an “Stautory Appeals Hearing.”
 
The hearing is a civil hearing that is held to resolve the issues surrounding the suspension of your driver’s license or driving privileges in the state of Pennsylvania. In order to qualify for a hearing, you must request one within 30 days of being notified by PennDot. Failure to timely request a hearing will be considered a waiver of your right to contest your suspension.
 
At the hearing, a Judge will consider the testimony of the arresting officer to determine whether a refusal actually occurred and whether you were placed under lawful arrest. If the Judge determines that there was not sufficient evidence to establish a refusal took place or that your arrest was unlawful, your license will be reinstated and your driving privileges will be fully restored.  If the police officer does not appear to testify as to the circumstances surrounding your alleged refusal to submit to the chemical test, your appeal will generally be sustained and your driving privilege restored.