Imagine telling a hip replacement patient they could only recover from surgery by walking on their hands…that is how thousands of Pennsylvania’s recovering addicts feel with the system of penalties put in place to jail, fine, supervise….then at the end of it all, just when they thought they could get their life together… to find out their license was suspended and they had no way to get to treatment, school, or work. It’s frustrating at best, infuriating is probably a better sentiment.

PA residents in recovery with a license suspension find it hard to escape the Suspension Snowball

The Philadelphia Inquirer article listed below echos what we’ve been fighting to help Pennsylvania residents who were stuck in the Suspension Snowball during recovery. For prior drug violations that now no longer cause license suspension in PA, there are still multiple thousands of residents stuck because the lawmakers did not consider making this law retroactive. My email is flooded with residents looking for help – any way out of this growing snowball nightmare. It’s hard for anyone not caught in this scenario to understand just how insidious the system is for someone fighting to recover and saddled with the burden of a system not intended to help.

Pennsylvania changed a law suspending driver’s licenses, but it won’t help thousands still banned from the road.

PA Governer Tom Wolfe and Fetterman talking about legalizing drugs in PA

Wolf’s office said that he can’t use an executive order in this case, but that his administration has been working with lawmakers on legislation that would provide retroactive relief for drivers with these types of suspensions. Wolf would “be eager to sign” such a bill, spokesperson J.J. Abbott said.

“Having a valid driver’s license can make a difference in finding and retaining employment, which can ultimately help with the payment of fines, costs, and restitution, and a reduction in recidivism,” Wolf said when he signed the initial bill in October 2018, calling it “smart sentencing reform.”

A PennDot spokesperson said that the transportation agency “supports providing retroactive relief from these types of suspensions,” but that such changes must come from the legislature.

I urge anyone reading this to consider the pain of these residents and urge your lawmakers to work toward correcting this accumulation of laws to help ease the struggle of anyone in recovery. There are three major points to consider.

  1. Change the Occupational Limited Work License (OLL) to remove the restriction that disqualifies individuals with prior drug violations and insurance violations.
    1. The OLL application only allows individuals to drive for Work, School, and Treatment.
    2. The OLL is supervised and ensures anyone applying has current insurance, employment, and a reason to be on the road that is typically part of recovery.
    3. Lack of employment, treatment, and education options are some of the biggest reasons a recovering resident fails at recovery.
  2. Make Act 95 RETROACTIVE
    1. This was an oversight to not make this law retroactive and help all those who were harmed by the prior penalties.
    2. Any future minor drug violation will no longer face license suspension when no vehicle is involved, yet thousands and thousands still suffer stuck in the Suspension Snowball.
    3. In 1994 (See PA ACT 143)  they made a change to eliminate certain suspensions from everyone who faced the penalty, it can be done.
  3.  It’s the right thing to do – help rather than hinder.
    1. The more opportunities the greater the chance for these resident’s recovery.
    2. Get those struggling in recovery back to being productive.
    3. Strengthen familes as resident no longer a burden

Find your legislator and let them know this change can make a difference to residents and strengthen our state.

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If you find yourself stuck and fighting to recover from issues that started years ago – there may be ways to fight. Give us a call or contact me here.

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PA Suspended Drivers - Suspension Snowball