Getting caught driving with a suspended license in Berks County usually results in a fine and additional license suspension (read more about 1543(a) violations here), but make the same mistake with a DUI suspended license and you’re looking at a mandatory jail sentence. If you’re facing the possibility of jail time for a 1543(b) charge (driving with a DUI suspended license), you need to consider the option of DUS/IPP (driving under suspension/intermediate punishment program). Here’s what you need to know.
First, when is a Pennsylvania driver’s license considered DUI suspended? Your license will of course fall into this category during the period of time it is suspended according to your criminal sentence or PennDot. BUT, even if your original period of suspension has passed, if you have not paid the $25 restoration fee and had your physical license returned to you, it is still considered suspended as the result of a DUI even after that initial court-ordered period has passed.
So, what’s the difference in penalties between driving with a regular suspended license (1543(a)) and a DUI suspended license (1543(b))? A 1543(a) violation generally carries a penalty of a $200 fine and an additional license suspension. A 1543(b) violation, on the other hand, carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 60-90 days and a $500 fine.
A jail sentence of even 60 days can be disastrous for many clients. Luckily, there is another option: DUS/IPP. Because a 1543(b) charge is a summary offense, the case will initially be handled by a magisterial district judge. In order to apply for the DUS/IPP program, a defendant is required to plead guilty in front of the MDJ and contact Berks County Adult Probation within 3 days of that plea to schedule an evaluation.
One of the first steps of Berks County DUS/IPP is the drug and alcohol evaluation. That will determine what type of treatment will be required for each individual participant. All participants are also required to complete community service and pay the $500 fine. Once a DUS/IPP sentence has been approved by the probation officer and the district attorney’s office, a defendant will be sentenced to 5 days of incarceration and 85 days of house arrest. House arrest requires electronic monitoring which must be paid for by the defendant at a cost of approximately $8/day. The money must be paid upfront. Credit towards the 85 days of house arrest can be given for inpatient drug and alcohol treatment or participation in a halfway house program.
While it may seem daunting to contemplate completing all of these steps, the significant reduction in a jail sentence as a result of completing DUS/IPP is worth it to many defendants. Not all DUS defendants are eligible for this program,so your attorney can review your criminal history with you to see whether you are able to apply. Because of the deadlines for applying for DUS/IPP, it is very important that you have a knowledgeable Reading, PA criminal defense attorney with you at your first appearance in front of the magisterial district judge to help you follow the applications steps correctly.
If you’ve been charged with driving with a DUI suspended license, call our Berks County DUI attorneys to see whether you may be eligible for a reduction in jail time. Call us at 610-372-5128 or email us at [email protected]