I received notification from PennDOT that my Pennsylvania driving privileges are being suspended because of a drug conviction, but, since I need my license to drive to work, should I file an appeal?

Appealing Suspension of Driving Privileges

Generally speaking, the answer is no. When people receive the initial letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) advising of the pending license suspension, many people believe or hope that they can file an appeal, appear at the appeal hearing, and reach an agreement with the PennDOT attorney or the judge to reduce or avoid the suspension. In the alternative, they hope to obtain a limited license to allow for driving privileges to and from work, school, or medical appointments. Regrettably, appeals of license suspensions do not work that way. The license suspension for drug possession offenses is mandatory, meaning the neither the PennDOT attorney nor the judge has the authority to reduce or eliminate the suspension.

The only way to avoid the suspension is to avoid the conviction of the drug possession charge, and that is something that must occur in the criminal case. A criminal defense attorney can try to avoid the suspension by filing pretrial motions seeking the dismissal of the drug possession charges, or the attorney may be able to reach a resolution with the prosecutor to avoid the license suspension. Negotiations to avoid the suspension must occur in the criminal case and not with a PennDOT attorney during an appeal. At a license suspension appeal hearing, the PennDOT attorney will have certified records evidencing the drug possession conviction to show the judge that the license suspension was mandated and warranted, and which point the judge will dismiss the appeal and re-instate the license suspension.

The only reason that a person should appeal a suspension of driving privileges is if the suspension is illegal, meaning that the suspension is not warranted or is too long based upon the resolution or disposition of the charges. Filing an appeal simply to plead for leniency is a waste of time and money.