The news has been buzzing about how Philadelphia has passed legislation to legalize small amounts of marijuana by drastically reducing the criminal penalty, eliminating jail time, and setting fines to start around $25. It is now expected that Mayor Nutter will sign the bill shortly.

As stated in the Philly.com article by Chris Hepp, Inquirer Staff Writer

Ramsey said Monday that he has been assured by the city’s law department that the city has the ability to enact its own statute treating possession of marijuana as a noncriminal offense. Possession remains a criminal offense under state law.

The BIG problem is Philadelphia can not control the states penalty, and more specifically the license suspension imposed by PennDOT. We have seen this with the Philadelphia courts attempt to circumvent license suspension by not reporting the drug conviction to PennDOT as they are required. This only caused headaches for residents who believed there would be no suspension only to find out much later there would be additional penalties.

PennDOT can suspend the driving privilege for ANY conviction of possessing a controlled substance. As authorized by § 1532.

(c) Suspension.–The department shall suspend the operating privilege of any person upon receiving a certified record of the person’s conviction of any offense involving the possession, sale, delivery, offering for sale, holding for sale or giving away of any controlled substance under the laws of the United States, this Commonwealth or any other state…

…(1) The period of suspension shall be as follows:
(i) For a first offense, a period of six months from the date of the
suspension.
(ii) For a second offense, a period of one year from the date of the suspension.
(iii) For a third and any subsequent offense thereafter, a period of two years from the date of the suspension.

I do not expect this to turn out well for the residents of Philly. None of the major news outlets or blogs covering the new law have mentioned this little understood detail. Most do not know that a license suspension is possible for a drug charge, especially when it has nothing to do with operating a motor vehicle.

This criminal charge is also a disqualifying offence for the Occupational Limited License. So relief will be difficult for most considering it may require a hearing and more time hoping a judge will see fit to remove the conviction.

 

PA Suspended Drivers - Suspension Snowball