Spotlight Issue: Driving with a suspended license?

You were caught driving with a suspended driver’s license and received a 1543(b) citation. Is this just a regular traffic ticket? NO! A 1543(b) citation can result in a jail sentence and significant fines.

If you are caught driving with a suspended license then you will be charged with either a 1543(a) or 1543(b) citation. There is huge difference between the two. A knowledgeable Berks County criminal attorney may be able to negotiate a reduction in charges from a 1543(b) to a 1543(a) citation. Read below to see why that reduction matters.

1543(b)

A 1543(b) citation means that you are suspected of driving with a DUI-suspended license. You may currently be in the ARD program for a DUI or you may have completed your sentence years ago. A license is considered DUI-suspended until it has been officially restored by PennDOT – this means that you have received your physical license back from PennDOT after it was surrendered for a DUI suspension. Drivers are often caught by surprise because they have completed all of their DUI requirements, but have not paid the $25 restoration fee to PennDOT and have not received their license back in the mail. In this situation, the driver’s license is still considered suspended because of a DUI and they can be charged with 1543(b). The consequences for driving with a DUI-suspended license are severe: A first offense is punishable by a mandatory sentence of 60-90 days in jail and a $500 fine.

However, if the driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) above .02 OR has a controlled substance in his blood OR refuses to submit to chemical testing then the sentences are increased:

a first offense is punishable by a mandatory sentence of 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine
a second offense is punishable by a mandatory sentence of 6 months in jail and a $2,500 fine
a third or subsequent offense is punishable by a mandatory sentence of 2 years in jail and a $5,000 fine

Is there anything that can be done to avoid a jail sentence for a 1543(b) charge in Berks County? Yes. Berks County offers a DUS Intermediate Punishment Program. Berks County DUS/IPP allows an offender to complete electronic monitoring and inpatient treatment in place of most of the mandatory jail sentence. The rules for applying for the DUS/IPP are strict and deadlines must be complied with. Our Reading, PA criminal attorneys will help you complete the application process.

1543(a)

A 1543(a) citation means that you are suspected of driving with a suspended license which is not DUI-related. A 1543(a) citation is a summary offense and the penalty is a $200 fine and an additional license suspension. However, multiple 1543(a) convictions can lead to much more serious penalties. A second or subsequent conviction can lead to a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail sentence of up to 6 months. A 6th or subsequent conviction results in a mandatory fine of $1,000 and a mandatory jail sentence of 30 days to 6 months.
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If you have been charged with a 1543(b) or violation, it is in your best interest to consult with a Berks County criminal attorney before your first hearing. We may be able to reduce your charge to a fine-only 1543(a) citation or help you apply for DUS/IPP. Contact us today at 610-372-5128 or email us at info@enmlaw.com.

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