Dear Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer: Driving on a Suspended License

Every Friday we take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions about Pennsylvania DUI so we can clear up any misconceptions and provide you with the most up-to-date and accurate information about Pennsylvania DUI laws and related topics. Today:

Dear Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer,

My license was suspended for one year and even though that time has passed I am still waiting to receive by licenses back.  Can I start driving again?

Pennsylvania license suspension DUI
Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer Justin McShane discusses the laws and statutes related driving under a license suspended for a DUI related violation.

In Pennsylvania, if your driving license is suspended as a result of a DUI or a DUI-refusal, then you may not drive until you physically get your driver’s license back.  It is not a defense that your finite period of suspension has ended and you could have had your license.  If you don’t physically have your driver’s license back and you are convicted or plead guilty to a Driving Under Suspension-DUI related offense, you could face not only additional loss of license, but the very real possibility of jail.

The following provisions apply if your conviction is related to DUI and/or your license is continuously suspended from events that originally were from a conviction related to a Pennsylvania DUI,  these provisions also apply for convictions for Driving Under Suspension-Driving Under the Influence Related:

  1. You may not drive a vehicle on the roadways of the Commonwealth until you physically have an operator’s license.  Applying for an operator’s license is not being in possession of a valid driver’s license.
  2. If you are convicted of driving a motor vehicle on the roadways of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania while your license is suspended or revoked for Driving After Imbibing, Driving Under the Influence or Driving Under Suspension-DUI related, the first offense will carry a $500 fine and mandatory jail time of 60-90 days. (Note: These are very severe penalties, please contact a qualified Pennsylvania DUI lawyer if you are facing these charges.)
  3. If you are found driving while your license is suspended or revoked for Driving After Imbibing, Driving Under the Influence or Driving Under Suspension-DUI related and you have a BAC over .02 the penalties become more severe. the first offense will carry a $1,000 fine and mandatory jail time of at least 90 days.

If you have any questions about the statutes related to driving under a suspended license-DUI related or if you or a loved one is facing any of these charges, please call 1-866-MCSHANE to speak to a qualified Pennsylvania DUI lawyer.

If you would like to ask a question, please submit it via the contact us link.

Justin McShane

PA DUI attorney Justin J. McShane is the President/CEO of The McShane Firm, LLC - Pennsylvania's top criminal law and DUI law firm. He is the highest rated DUI attorney in PA as rated by Justin McShane is a double Board certified attorney. He is the first and so far the only Pennsylvania attorney to achieve American Bar Association recognized board certification in DUI defense from the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. He is also a Board Certified Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approved Agency.

29 responses to “Dear Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer: Driving on a Suspended License”

  • Charged for driving on suspended dui license … on probation…and I would like to know what’s my chances of not getting any jail time, your costs, and if you service Monroe county. Thank you!

    • On occasion, we do go up to Monroe county. Jail time depends entirely on the number of prior DUS offenses and whether or not it is DUS-DUI related. Please call us at 7176573900 so we can discuss.

  • I will be facing driving with a suspended license for a DUI offense what are my options for not doing the jail time. I have to many positive things going on right now that jail would jeopardize My school and three jobs. I hope to hear back asap….thank you !!

    • There are a lot of options. The options depend on the facts in your case, whether or not this was a plain DUS or DUS-DUI related and how many prior offenses you have. We are happy to look into this for you.

  • Dennis Zeigler says:

    I was Charged with Driving on DUI suspended License and i was told i could goto jail for up to 90 days. Is there any other options to not goto jail? Possibly House arrest? I dont want to lose my job

    • There are a lot of options. The options depend on the facts in your case, whether or not this was a plain DUS or DUS-DUI related and how many prior offenses you have. We are happy to look into this for you.

  • 9 months ago I went thru a check point n got a ticket for driving under suspension. They told me I was lucky my DUI suspension date had past–n that’s y I only got a citation. Today I passed a truck going up hill doing 35-40 in a 55 mph zone, where I was doing the speed limit. A cop pulled me over n told me I’ll get a summons for driving on DUI suspension–I’m confused n worried I’ll end up sitting in jail for this. The cop said since all my fines were not paid off on the DUI suspension that is y it is still a DUI. Despite the being told I was off the DUI suspension n on a regular suspension. What kind of a case do I have for staying out of jail?

    • Yup this is a tricky part of the law. Section 1543g states that until you get your plastic driver’s license back, then you are still considered to be DUS-DUI related. Give us a ring we can brainstorm with you to help you.

  • I am 45 years old and my license has been under suspension since I was 18 years old in 1987. I was right at that age when under-age drinking became a big offense and like a lot of adults under 21, I felt that I was an adult in every other aspect of the law and I drank without even trying to hide doing so. Because of this attitude, I got 5 underage drinking convictions before I turned 21 and my license was suspended for 10 years and nine months. Yes, you read it right. Ever since then I get caught approx. once every 6 or 7 years for driving under suspension and they keep on tacking on more + more years to the suspension [sometimes they also give me a little jail time]. I recently heard that a new law was passed a few years ago that turns this summary offense into a misdemeanor if you’re a “Habitual Offender” like me and a judge can give me two years in Prison??? Law Makers seem to think if they make the penalty harsh enough, people will stop driving on suspended licensed, but I am still driving and would be doing so even if the penalty was the death penalty…. Let me scratch my head and see if I can figure out why the U.S.A. has 13 times as many people in Prison as any other country on the Planet??? Hmmmm, that’s not to hard to figure out the answer . Lawyers must love practicing in the most unfree country in the world where the System is purposely set up to keep people trapped in it for life!!! “Mr. governor, sorry we are going to have to set all the murderers, child-Molesters + rapists go free, they do not carry Mandatory sentences and all these people driving on suspended licenses do have Mandatory sentences that we need room for…. Keep building more Prisons!!! Lets lock Everyone up!!!

    • Some of the rumors are true. Under some limited circumstances, you may be eligible for a probationary license. Some the rumors that you wrote out are false. The Habitual Offender statute does not designate DUS offenses as part of it. However, repeated DUS’s will prolong your loss of license and after your sixth one in your lifetime, you are subject to 30 days in jail, if convicted. These are serious offenses. You need serious lawyers. We are here to help.

  • Mark Howell says:

    Hi my name is Mark I had gotten a DUI back in 07 I got pulled over the other night and got a ticket for driveing on a DUI suspended license when I went to the tag place they said according to Harrisburg penndot my license suspension never started because I didn’t turn my license in I never had a license to turn in am I still faceing jail time

    • Probably you got some very bad advice with your last DUI. If you do not turn in your plastic license or sign a DL16LC form, then per 1532 of the vehicle code, you will not get credit for the suspension time. Give us a ring. We may be able to help.

      • Hey I am from Lancaster I have 5 prior DUS DUI related I got pull over a few months ago. I am currently waiting to go to court. Do you think I can get house arrest? I never got house arrest for any of my prior on my last 2 got jail time since I was already going upstate for other charges

  • larry chamberlain says:

    I got pulled over today he said my licence was DUI suspended son I had to sign a paper stating I handed over my licence I got mail from penn dot stating my suspension starts as soon as i hand in my license I need my license for work I told the officer that and I was gonna hand the license in soon as I got hired back I can’t work with out one so he didn’t arrest me as he stated when he first approached me nut said that the paper work will be in the mail for my court hearing and he also aasked me for my po ‘s name so i gave him his name

    • You need a lawyer right away. Each time you get behind the wheel you are subject to a DUS-DUI offense. It doens’t matter if you still have your plastic license. You are going to be charged with DUS-DUI related. It has a mandatory minimum of 60 days plus another additional loss of license, if you are convicted. Give us a ring at 7176573900.

  • Hello,
    I am currently serving a five year revocation listed as a habitual offender as a result of three dui’s within a ten year span. Do you assist in reinstating licenses earlier than the revocation time? I am not eligible for a reinstatement until 2017 and I’m not eligible for a probationary or occupational license. Why can’t I just have an ignition interlock for the next 3 years so that I may continue to drive to work?

    • This situation is all too common. Unfortunately, the legislature sets the laws. The laws as interpreted by PennDOT are very very harsh as you are experiencing. There is no middle ground. This is why fighting a DUI is the only real option.

  • Hello,
    I got pulled over this evening cause I fit the description of myself as the owner of my car. In eight days it would have been two years since I lost my license and would have been eligible to get it back. The officer also had a headlight out if that matters at all. Just curious of the chances I will not go to jail?. The only reason I was driving was because I recently had to get a new job. Due to the fines and restrictions of universal healthcare, I went from working 40+ hours every week to 18 or less hours per week at a job that I walked to. I am a server and public transportation doesn’t run at 11 pm in mechanicsburg.

  • Hello,
    I have been serving a 6 year revocation for having 3 DUIs within a 6 month span back in 07-08. My revocation period ends October 25th.
    I got stopped driving 3 years ago and charged with 1523 offense but the judge reduced it to just driving without a license and I paid a $200 fine. Earlier this month I got stopped again when I was in a minor triffic accident and am now facing another charge under 1523. Neither event was alcohol related and no other traffic laws broken other than the obvious that my license was revoked.
    Is there any way I can get this 2nd charge plead down like the previous one? It’s been so long ago since the first offense and the fact that there was no other law broken should count for something right? Also there was a lot going into why I got the initial DUIs in the first place.

  • joel maldonado says:

    I was pulled over again while driving under the influence. license was already suspended! I did work release for 3months. They gave me probation. This was almost 2yrs ago. My license was suspended for a very long time! I dont want to go to jail!!!! Can they give me house arrest?

  • Hello, I was charged with a DUI in 2008 while driving on a suspended license. PENNDOT says that I do not qualify for any sort of driving privileges until 2017. I have 9 DUS and or with out a license. They also state that I would have to wait 7 years. Is there anything that can be done to reinstate my privileges sooner then later?

  • Good Evening, I had a second DUI in late 2008. I paid all my bills and did everything asked including 6 months of house arrest in 2010. I did everything asked of me, paid off my bills, all of my voluntary work and yet a year later nothing in the mail about my license. Any thoughts?

  • My husband was on probation for one year and had 30days house arrest by dauphin county due to two DUI 1st offenses because he was on prescribed medications and crashed my car and called the cops…. both times… probation was up this month. We lived in Lancaster so they were monitoring him and he had no violations. Our landlord sold his house so we had to move and moved out of the county approved by Lancaster. They sent my husband back to Dauphin and Dauphin says he violated probation due to moving and not reporting it. I called his old po and his new po a month after moving and never heard back from his new PO. His new PO said he was having his office changed. I had our mail address forwarded so if they ever sent anything it should have come here no matter what and it did not. Also since my husband is on SSI we have no money for a lawyer or fines. He is currently incarcerated for something completely different yet also an address issue they sent a court date to an address we haven’t lived at for more than a year now and all he wanted was house arrest not jail time… especially for Christmas time with our 3 year old. How long does this usually take to find him guilty or not and if found guilty what would his punishments most likely be. What can I do as his wife to help if anything.

  • Have to agree with Joe Smith, the land of the free doesn’t muck about where jail sentencing is concerned, the statistic for imprisoned percentage of population is rather depressingly startling.

  • We have similar issues in the UK, you don’t automatically have your licence returned to you, you have to request it back again. This causes so many issues for Uk motorists after a disqualification because it isn’t as clear and understood as it maybe could be.

  • Hello, I got a DUI in Monroe County back in April of 2021 and my license was suspended for a year and had my first hearing for it in November of 2021. I have completed all of the ARD classes. Im only only on probation until November of 2022 and am currently on a payment plan which should be done half way this year. But I also was caught driving with a suspended DUI license in June of 2021 in Delaware County before my first court hearing for the actual DUI in Monroe County. They have added another year of suspension to my license but I have appealed and have a summary hearing for September 2022. Is there any way that I can have any help they are saying there is a mandatory jail time, but I don’t want it. Please get back to me.

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