by Peter Hall, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
May 22, 2023
Pennsylvanians who are permanently banned from holding a commercial driver’s license because of a drunk driving conviction or other offenses would have a second chance under a bill before the state House.
The legislation, which was voted out of the House Transportation Committee on Monday, would allow people with lifetime suspensions of their commercial driver’s licenses to apply to have them reinstated after 10 years, subject to several conditions.
State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, House Bill 1092’s prime sponsor, said she was contacted by a constituent who lost his CDL 25 years ago and wanted to return to truck driving.
“Over the years, he’s done nothing but good work. He’s been helpful and useful in the community. He has had to switch careers but driving was always the one thing he wanted to do,” Hill-Evans told the Capital-Star.
The ability to apply for reinstatement and the conditions imposed would put Pennsylvania in line with U.S. Department of Transportation regulations.
Hill-Evans said the legislation was developed with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and has support from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the union that represents about 140,000 transportation and warehouse workers in Pennsylvania.
In a co-sponsorship memo, Hill-Evans noted that trucks move more than 70% of the nation’s freight and account for nearly one-third of Pennsylvania’s liquid fuel tax revenue. Despite its crucial role in the economy, the trucking industry is expected to face a shortfall of 16,000 drivers by 2030, the memo says.
“It’s thanks to commercial drivers that we can walk into stores … to buy food, clothing, medicine, and other goods for our families and for ourselves,” Hill-Evans told Transportation Committee members. “When commercial drivers aren’t allowed to do their jobs, our store shelves or tables, and our stomachs go empty.”
Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, the ranking Republican member of the Transportation Committee, called the bill a commonsense piece of legislation.
Under the legislation, to qualify for reinstatement after a lifetime suspension, a driver must meet the following conditions:At least 10 years must have elapsed from the disqualification. Complete a rehabilitation program if their disqualification was due to DUI or refusing a chemical test and a driver improvement course Pay a restoration fee of $100. Meet all requirements under federal and state law to hold a CDL. Comply with all conditions and requirements imposed as part of a sentence for the underlying conviction Free of convictions for any disqualifying offenses for at least 10 years.
The bill will now go to the House floor for a vote. If it passes in both chambers of the General Assembly and is signed into law, the legislation would take effect in 18 months, which Hill-Evans said is the time necessary for PennDOT to review and prepare records of disqualified drivers.
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