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July 2018 Archives

Spotlight Issue: What does the legalization of medical marijuana mean for DUI law in Berks County?

Pennsylvania legalized marijuana for limited medical purposes in August of 2016 and dispensaries are now operating. Although the law has been passed, there is still much work to be done in order to implement the program and to ensure that medical marijuana usage is legal and safe. One area in which there is a still a question about the legality of medical marijuana is Pennsylvania DUI law. Currently, marijuana is classified as a schedule I drug which means that it has been determined to have no legitimate medical usage. Obviously that is no longer an appropriate classification based on the current law. However, the outdated classification continues to leave Pennsylvania DUI law in limbo.

Spotlight Issue: Loss of driver's license for driving with suspended registration

In Pennsylvania, many motor vehicle offenses result in a driver's license suspension that isn't immediately apparent to the driver. One such offense is driving a vehicle with a suspended registration. Vehicle registration can be suspended for 3 reasons - lapse in insurance coverage, as the result of a citation or accident, or because of unpaid Turnpike tolls. Most suspensions are for 3 months. Appeals of a PennDot license suspension must be filed within 30 days of the date that the suspension notice is mailed. The appeal is heard by the Court of Common Pleas. Registration suspension can often be ended immediately by providing proof of insurance coverage and paying a large fine. Once a vehicle's registration is suspended, if the car is driven by the owner, or with permission of the owner, the owner can be charged with violating 75 Pa. C.S. 1371. The criminal penalty for this offense is only a fine of $100 - $500 and it is handled in front of a Magisterial District Judge. But, a conviction will result in a separate and automatic 3-month driver's license suspension by PennDot. This may be an unexpected consequence for many people who have pled guilty to the traffic ticket.

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