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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 2, 2016 01:53 PM
From: Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf
To: All Senate members
Subject: Probationary License revisions
I am reintroducing Senate Bill 62, legislation aimed at reducing the life-long impact of license suspensions on those who have committed traffic violations at a young age.

A district judge had brought this issue to my attention, raising a concern over youth between the ages of 16 and 20 getting their license suspended. Many young people before the judge had received a minor traffic violation, and for reasons of immaturity, they failed to respond to the citation. They subsequently incur a one year license suspension, which when also ignored, can soon result in multiple suspensions amounting to many years.

Senate Bill 62 amends the Vehicle Code pertaining to a probationary license (PL). The Transportation Department currently makes a PL available to a habitual offender whose driving privileges have been revoked or to a person with an accumulation of suspensions or revocations of five years or more. Presently, in order to receive a PL, a person with one to seven offenses must serve at least three years of suspension or revocation, a person with eight to 14 offenses must serve at least four years of suspension or revocation, a person with 15 to 21 offenses must serve at least five years of suspension or revocation, and a person with 22 or more offenses must serve at least six years of suspension or revocation. SB 62 reduces each of these time periods by half.

Under current law, a PL can only be issued once in a lifetime. Should a person’s PL be suspended, they would no longer have the ability to secure such a license in the future. My proposal would provide that an individual could apply for another PL after five years. This would mirror the rules for an occupational limited license.

In applying for a PL, the person must prove to the department's satisfaction that he has not driven a motor vehicle during the minimum period of suspension or revocation. My measure would provide that the applicant’s driving history shall be sufficient documentation for the department to determine whether the applicant is eligible for a probationary license. Even though the department indicates that they look at the driving record, I believe it is important to make clear in the law that “proof to the department’s satisfaction” means the person’s driving record.

In order to be eligible for a regular driver’s license, a person must successfully drive with a PL for six consecutive years. My legislation would reduce that period in half to three years. I believe this represents a fair and reasonable time period before a person can apply for restoration of their regular driver’s license.

While young people should be held accountable just like everyone else, the license suspensions written into current law can punish someone well into adulthood, long after they have matured and have maintained perfect records. The snowball effect of accumulated suspensions received in one’s late teen years are effecting them well into their 30s and 40s while they are raising families. This legislation maintains appropriate and effective punishments, but restores fairness into the law and minimizes life-long effects.

During the 2015-2016 legislative session, Senate Bill 62 was approved by the Senate. The bill I am reintroducing is very similar to SB 62 as described above but with some tweaks supported by the Transportation Department. The modified language would exclude the most serious offenses from the reduced waiting period. In addition, a person who has previously been granted a PL may not apply for another PL until 10 years (instead of 5) has elapsed. Finally, the bill’s effective date is revised from 90 days to 120 days.

Introduced as SB49