If you don't pay up, you could be hoofing it.
An act amending an existing Pennsylvania law gives added incentive for those convicted of a crime to meet their obligations by adding one simple word: restitution.
Act 146 of 2012, signed on Oct. 8, amends commonwealth law so that failure to pay court ordered restitution payments can result in a suspension of your license.
Under Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Code, dealing with vehicles, driver operating privileges have long been subject to suspension for failure to respond to a citation or summary. The same law subjected operating privileges to suspension upon failure to pay fines and penalties imposed by a court.
Act 146 amends the law to include failure to pay restitution imposed by a court to the list of things operating privileges may be suspended for.
"It has been my experience that nine out of ten criminal cases involve restitution," Laurie Davis with the Warren CountyVictim Witness Office noted. "This (restitution) is a major concern with victims and some see it as the only reason for pursuing criminal charges. Restitution in many cases rises above the amount of fines and costs. It is good to see that something is in place to help motivate payment."
The suspension will remain in place until restitution is paid or a payment plan is agreed upon. Failure to meet payment plan installments would leave the individuals license open to be suspended again.
Those wishing to restore their operating privileges after a suspension will have to pay a restoration fee of $50 to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, as with any other operating privilege suspension. In cases where individuals missed payments and suffered resultant suspensions multiple times, the fee would have to be paid each time. In some cases an additional $50 fee may be required to restore vehicle registration.
Warren County Sheriff Ken Klakamp said he feels the amendment is a good thing, but that maybe it doesn't go far enough.
"I agree that it's a good thing. As it stands now the MDJ (magisterial district judge) can file for suspension for failure to to respond to a citation. The only thing that is a new add-on is restitution," Klakamp said. "I would like to see this extended for non-traffic/criminal convictions beyond what are on the books. Maybe take a look at possible suspensions of professional licenses."