License Suspension for Drug Convictions:

Is that really a “conviction”?

License Suspension for Drug Convictions: Is that really a “conviction”?

Pennsylvania’s Vehicle Code mandates a driver’s license suspension of “any person . . . convict[ed] 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.”  75 Pa.C.S. § 1532(c).

This is a surprise to many facing charges under The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, 35 P.S. §§ 780-101 – 144.  Some, however, are exempt from this suspension.

First-time offenders who’ve been given the benefit of Probation Without Verdict, 35 P.S. § 780-117, are not considered to have been “convicted” under Section 1532(c).  In 2004, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania addressed this very issue.  The Court reasoned:

[N]otwithstanding the general definition of “conviction” in the Vehicle Code, because there is no “conviction” under the specific statutory terms of PWV [Probation Without Verdict] once the licensee successfully completes the probationary period, there can be no license suspension.  Nor can the guilty plea be used, during the licensee’s probationary period, where there has not yet been a discharge and dismissal without guilt and conviction . . . unless the licensee fails to successfully complete the terms of the PWV.

Klinger v. Pa. Dept. of Transportation, 856 A.2d 280, 286 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2004).

Thus, those who’ve received the benefit of Probation Without Verdict, provided they’ve successfully completed the terms of their probation, will not have their license suspended under Section 1532(c).  This is one of the many benefits of Probation Without Verdict.