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Changes to Pennsylvania's Underage Law: What You Need to Know

Why should people lose their driving privileges over a mistake that didn’t involve driving? If you’ve wondered, the Pennsylvania lawmakers finally see your point.

This is a change to the law that will affect thousands of people in the year ahead. Driving privileges will stop being taken from non-violent offenders.

Last October, Governor Wolf signed House Bill 163, to leave driving privileges intact for people convicted of certain non-driving crimes, including drug convictions.

The change goes into effect in April.

Driving suspensions have restricted the lives of young adults with convictions for:

  • Underage drinking in a restaurant or bar
  • Underage purchase of cigarettes
  • Excess school absences

The harsh and outdated legal policies affected tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians each year. At a hearing on the change last October, a PennDOT official described the situation. In 2016 alone, PennDOT dealt with 27,000 drug-related violations. The agency supports ending suspensions that are not connected with road safety. And both Democrats and Republicans agree.

So, from April on, people will have greater ability to keep working, driving, and getting to treatment if they are in recovery.

The Law Was Previously Changed In 2003

Drinking laws changed in 2003 too, signifying changing attitudes about drinking and punishment, including consequences for young adults. For first-time DUI cases, treatment rose as a priority. Earlier priorities had focused on suspensions and punishments.

Laws change. And new interpretations can mean new options and outcomes for people facing legal challenges.

Know the best way to make your case when it counts. Speak with an attorney who has experience with Pennsylvania’s courts. Defend your rights now. Do not mistakenly accept a plea deal that can compromise your best interests—now, and in the long run.

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