Our criminal defense law firm, with its main office in Philadelphia and a 2nd office in Moorestown, New Jersey, has received a number of questions from individuals convicted of driving under the influence in Pennsylvania, whose convictions resulted in a driver’s license suspension. In the Commonwealth, a person who is convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) will have their license suspended for a minimum period of 12 months for their 1st offense (Exception—General Impairment, 1st offense) and 18 months following a conviction for a 2nd offense DUI within 10 years. In these situations, these individuals were not eligible for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD program), and so they could not drive in Pennsylvania during the suspension period.
Ignition Interlock Limited License
On August 25, 2017, Pennsylvania introduced its new limited license program known as the Ignition Interlock Limited License (IILL). The IILL is a restricted license, which allows a driver to operate a vehicle or a car within the Commonwealth, during a license suspension provided that the vehicle is equipped with an ignition interlock device. Individuals with suspensions for DUI convictions or a conviction for a refusal to submit to a chemical test (blood or breathalyzer) can obtain an IILL following a DUI conviction if the person has no prior DUI offenses.
License Suspension and DUI
If a person has had their license suspended for DUI refusal, the individual must serve 6 months of a 12 month suspension before he or she is eligible for IILL. This new DUI law is very confusing and I have explained to client’s that are convicted of 1st offense DUI with a BAC of .10 or greater, you will have a one year license suspension provided that you are not eligible for the ARD program. Those first offenders with a BAC of .10 or higher will be immediately eligible for a limited license, which will allow them to legally operate a motor vehicle during this one year period of license suspension. If, however, you are convicted of a 2nd offense DUI, you must serve a minimum of 6 months of a 12 month license suspension.
Refusal Convictions and Ignition Interlock
You are immediately eligible for the IILL for all first time DUI convictions which result in a mandatory 12 month license suspension with exception to a refusal conviction, which will require you to serve 6 months of the 12 month suspension before you are eligible for the limited license.
Ignition Interlock is a Privilege
Keep in mind, however, that a limited license is a privilege and not a right, which still requires you to make a formal petition to PennDot to receive one. While this new program is a tremendous benefit for those who would normally face a 1 year license suspension, it isn’t free and the device itself will cost $800-$1,200, depending on the provider.
ARD Imposed License Suspensions
While the ARD program provides a tremendous benefit to an individual charged with DUI, it does not currently allow a person to obtain an IILL immediately. This is unusual because a person who is actually convicted of DUI can immediately apply for and receive an IILL whereas, the ARD program requires a person to serve a minimum license suspension before eligibility (30-90 days). An amendment to the IILL law, which will take effect in December 2018, will immediately allow a person to obtain an IILL. Given the current state of the law, however, a person facing a 60 day ARD suspension may actually choose to forego the ARD program and plead guilty to a DUI.
The benefit of the ARD program is that a person is eligible for an expungement, whereas, a person who is convicted will have a permanent criminal record and will only be allowed to petition the court for a sealing of their record, 7 years after the conviction. Some individuals, however, may prefer to have a criminal record and maintain a driver’s license for the purposes of employment in order to support their families. This is the purpose of the amendment, but it won’t take effect for another 11 months. For more information on DUI please visit our free download section and download a copy of my book, Five Ways to Fight and Win Your Pennsylvania DUI Case.