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Driver’s license amnesty proposed

A Driver’s License Amnesty Program has been proposed in the state House of Representatives.

House Bill 1278 is sponsored by Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny County, based on legislative language that was unanimously adopted in the state Senate as an amendment to a bill. Wheatley said drivers would still have to serve the driver’s license suspension for the first offense, but could receive amnesty from subsequent driver’s license suspensions.

“Across the political spectrum, nearly everyone knows at least one person who constantly faces barriers to employment or is forced to choose between taking their children to school or a doctor’s appointment and risk further suspension penalties,” Wheatley wrote in his legislative memorandum. “It becomes all too easy to fall into a vicious cycle of suspensions, fines and penalties that eventually add up to a point where an individual can never get out from under and creates less incentive to rectify the situation.’

The court system would be given 30 days to review a driver’s application for relief and make a determination if the applicant has satisfied all the court-ordered obligations that resulted in the original driver’s license suspension, determine if the driver had been convicted of one or more violations that happened only because of the original suspension.

Drivers whose licenses would be immediately restored would receive preference.

Drivers would also have to submit a restoration fee and proof of financial responsibility. Drivers would not be able to participate in the program for convictions received after the law takes effect.

Drivers would also have to pay all court-ordered obligations either in one lump sum or payments if the court determines the person’s ability to pay. The court could also order public service or another alternative program.

“We recognized in a bipartisan manner that creating employment barriers and setting people up for endless suspensions shouldn’t continue going forward,” Wheatley wrote. “The Driver’s License Amnesty program would offer the same opportunity to those already caught in the system to get a fresh start as well. I believe this legislation would not only impact, but directly benefit Commonwealth residents in every corner of the state.”

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