Similarly to every other state in the nation, Pennsylvania enforces laws that prohibit motorists from driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The state, however, considers this crime a criminal offense, giving even first-time offenders jail sentences and suspending their license. The consequences of a DUI conviction only get stiffer when subsequent offenses are committed. Individuals who recurrently commit these crimes in relatively short periods of time are labeled “habitual violators” by the state. This title comes with serious legal ramifications that far exceed the penalties perpetrators without this label will face.
For the purposes of this article, we'll address (1) under what circumstances a person is deemed a habitual violator, and (2) the laws and penalties associated with this classification.
Pennsylvania Laws for Habitual Violators
According to Pennsylvania statutes, a habitual violator is a person whose driving record, as maintained in the department, shows that a person has accumulated the requisite number of convictions for specific offenses involving a vehicle.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has dictated that three or more convictions of the following offenses with a span of five years will earn an individual the title of a habitual violator:
- Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
- Accidents involving an injury or a death
- Aggravated assault by vehicle
- Accidents involving damage to another vehicle or property
- Homicide by vehicle
- Driving on a suspended license
- Illegally operating a motor vehicle not equipped with an ignition interlock device
- Felony involving a vehicle
- Partaking in races on the highway
- Fleeing from or attempting to elude law enforcement
- Reckless driving
- Failing to stop when involved in a crash
- Driving with your lights off to avoid identification and arrest
PennDOT guidelines ordain that three DUI offenses warrant a person to be considered a habitual violator in the eyes of the law.
Habitual Violator Suspension
In the event that a person is convicted of three of the offenses above or has acquired three DUIs within a five-year period, their license will be revoked for five years. For each additional offense committed after being labeled a habitual violator, a defendant's license will be revoked for two more years.
License Suspension/Revocation Process
Motorists who are due for a license suspension or revocation will receive a mailed notification informing them of the impending condition of their license from PennDOT. Habitual violators would then have to physically send their license to the Bureau of Driving Licensing prior to the date of their suspension or revocation. In special cases, law enforcement may be sent to a motorist's location to pick up a license. Drivers have two choices from here on out. They can either let these events run their course or hire a lawyer to assist them with appealing the suspension or revocation. With the help of an attorney, a motorist could get their driving privileges fully restored.
For habitual offenders who have obligations such as, work, school, or other places that they previously accessed through the use of their motor vehicle, there is the option of obtaining a restricted license. In order to do so, drivers must send in a filled out legal document called a Form DL-15 with proof of insurance to be considered for qualification. Drivers should expect to pay a fee to turn in said document. PennDOT will assess a driver's form and determine if they will grant them a restricted license.
Experienced Philadelphia DUI Defense Attorney
Being classified as a habitual offender comes with incredibly serious legal ramifications. Getting your license revoked for a long period of time, along with the penalties that are related to accruing several offenses is a major inconvenience. If you're the average resident, you have places you have to be such as work, school, your child's daycare center, the hospital for medical treatment etc. Avoid having to miss out on everyday activities due to your inability to drive your vehicle, contact a skilled attorney. With the help of a legal professional, you could get the charges of the third offense completely dismissed. Contact knowledgeable attorney Joseph D. Lento today.