RECENT PA SUPREME COURT RULING COULD BENEFIT THOUSANDS OF DUI DEFENDANTS
Dec. 10, 2019
It has been almost a year since Act 30, also known as Senate Bill 553, went into effect. Countless drivers are affected by the new law and may now be eligible to get their driving privileges much sooner than they had previously thought.
Click the following hyperlink to view Act 30:
Prior to Act 30, an individual convicted of a traffic offense that carried a term suspension (driving while suspended, reckless driving, etc.) could only get credit for serving the term suspension if they surrendered their driver’s license to either the court (upon conviction) or PennDOT or they submitted an acknowledgment of suspension form.
The problem with this method of rewarding credit was obvious. There were countless scenarios where a driver was not properly awarded suspension credit.
For example, if the court or police officer confiscated a drivers’ license but failed to forward it to PennDOT, the driver would not receive credit.
In other instances, many drivers did not receive an “Official Notice of Suspension” via mail because they moved and failed to tell PennDOT their new address. As a result, those drivers were unaware that they were suspended and had to surrender their license or submit the acknowledgment form to receive credit.
Out of state drivers, often unfamiliar with PA law, were also affected because they didn’t have a PA license to surrender and didn’t know that they had to submit an acknowledgment of suspension form in place of a PA license.
These are just a few examples of the manner in which drivers were negatively impacted by suspension credit and reporting issues. It was not uncommon for a driver to have years of unserved suspension time “owed” to PennDOT. It was a story told by hundreds clients.
Fortunately, the Act did away with the archaic suspension credit system PennDOT had used for decades.
75 Pa.C.S. 1540, which was amended as a result of Act 30, now states that “upon a conviction by a court of competent jurisdiction for an offense which calls for mandatory suspension of an individual's operating privilege, the court or the district attorney shall inform the defendant that the suspension shall be effective within 60 days. This section shall create a rebuttable presumption of the defendant's knowledge of the suspension for the purposes of section 1543.”
The impact of the rebuttable presumption language cannot be overstated. PennDOT now presumes that a driver knows they are suspended and the driver does not need to “prove” that they knew of the suspension. This allows PennDOT to start the suspension clock (giving credit) on date the driver is convicted of the traffic offense instead of the license surrender date.
In practical terms, what does the new law mean?
The court is now required to inform the individual that the suspension will become effective within 60 days.
License suspensions now become effective upon notice from PennDOT.
An Individual is no longer required to surrender his or her license upon conviction.
There is now a rebuttable presumption of knowledge of suspension.
This rebuttable presumption solves the time credit issues discussed above.
The prosecution can now use the rebuttable presumption that a driver was aware of the suspension when prosecuting a charge of 1543 (related to driving while suspended).
If your driving privileges are suspended and you are tired of dealing with PennDOT on your own, CALL ME.
I have helped thousands of drivers get their driving privileges restored and suspension time reduced. I can do the same for you!