Two new bills have been introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that could allow those convicted of non-driving crimes to keep their driver’s licenses—a departure from the Keystone State’s current penalty structure for a variety of crimes committed off the road.
Proposed on October 27, House Bill 42 would eradicate driver’s license suspension for convictions such as theft, purchase of tobacco or alcohol by a minor, or carrying a fake identification card. House Bill 163 would do the same for those convicted of possession, sale, or delivery of controlled substances.
“In many cases involving license suspensions for non-driving offenses, the inability for offenders to drive takes away their livelihood, the ability to provide for their families, and their ability to be productive members of society,” said Pennsylvania State Representative Rick Saccone (R-Allegheny/Washington) at a press conference.
HB 42 awaits a decision in the state’s Judiciary Committee, while HB 163 will be voted upon in the Transportation Committee.
Individuals convicted of non-driving-related crimes should still have to pay fines, Rep. Saccone acknowledged, further asserting that they’d benefit more by performing community service over losing their driving privileges. Additionally, Saccone explained, the ability to obtain a restricted “work-only” license is quite limited.
“Many people also incorrectly assume that Pennsylvania residents are able to obtain a work or ‘bread and butter’ license that at least allows a person to drive to and from work,” he said. “The problem is that few people are eligible to receive such a license. For example, a person suffering from a suspension for a drug charge, like possession with intent to deliver a drug or possession of marijuana, is not eligible to receive a [license of this type].”
The bills are supported by organizations like the Pittsburgh Trade Institute, the Pittsburgh Foundation, as well as local Allegheny and Washington county residents. For now, there is no timeline for when a final decision will be made.