Much has been written about the physical dangers of driving under the influence. Additionally, in previous blog posts we have discussed the legal penalties DUI charges can bring, such as jail time, expensive fines and lengthy drivers license suspensions. As if you needed another reason to be wary, I’ve got one for you: stiff penalties for driving while your license is suspended.
Section 1543(b) of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code states that if the drivers license of a person driving a motor vehicle has been suspended as a result of DUI or DUI related charges (more on this later), such driver shall be fined $500 and serve at least 60 days in jail upon conviction. However, if that driver has a blood alcohol content ("BAC") of .02% (much lower than the standard DUI BAC threshold of .08%) then the penalties are increased to a $1000 fine and a minimum of 90 days in jail. Repeat offenses of the .02% BAC rule will lead to significant increases in fines and jail time.
Moreover, there are a few wrinkles in the law that make section 1543(b) applicable in more situations than you might think. First, section 1543(b) applies to license suspensions arising from acceptance into ARD, convictions of driving under the influence of a controlled substance, and refusals of breathalyzer and other BAC tests.
Second, it sometimes happens that a license is under multiple, consecutive suspensions (both DUI related and not) and the DUI suspension has not yet become effective. In other words, a license is currently under suspension for a non-DUI related reason, and the DUI related suspension will begin once the non-DUI suspension has been completed. In such a situation, section 1543(b)(2) requires such a suspension to currently be treated as DUI related even though the DUI related portion of the suspension has not yet commenced.
And if that is not enough to give pause, section 1543(c) invokes an additional one year license suspension on top of any current suspensions. Clearly, the best way to avoid the implications of section 1543(b) is to drink responsibly and avoid DUI charges.