What happens if I drive on a suspended license?

Criminal Defense
By Goodwin Como, P.C.

Last year, you made a stupid mistake. You were out at a bar with friends. You ended up drinking more than you’d expected, but you still decided to chance it and drive yourself home. Fortunately, you didn’t get into an accident, and nobody got injured, but you did get pulled over. Now your license is suspended.

Tonight, you’re back at the bar with your friends—only this time, you’re not drinking. Everyone else gets too wasted to drive, and they ask you to take them home. You know you’re still not allowed to drive, but you also want to make sure your friends are safe. Is it really so bad to drive on a suspended license?

If you live in Pennsylvania, the answer is “yes.” Before you get behind the wheel with a suspended license, here are a few things you should know:


Under Pennsylvania law, if you get caught driving on a suspended or revoked driver’s license, the penalties are severe. For a first-time offense, you’ll face a minimum of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. In addition, your license suspension can be extended for an additional year—and your license revocation can be extended for an additional two years.

You could face increased penalties if you drive with a suspended license while:

  • You have a blood alcohol concentration over .02,
  • You test positive for any Schedule I or nonprescription Schedule II or III drugs or
  • You refuse a breath or blood test from the police.

In any of the above cases, you’ll get a $1,000 fine and face at least 90 days in jail for a first-time offense.

For any subsequent offenses of driving with a suspended or revoked license, the fines and jail sentences grow considerably.

Reinstating your license

In order to be able to drive again, it is not sufficient to simply wait until your suspension period has ended. You can’t legally drive until you have a reinstated license in your hand, and there are certain steps you’ll have to take to get that.

Your license can be suspended for a variety of reasons—from driving under the influence to accruing too many points from traffic violations. The requirements to reinstate your license vary depending on the original reason for suspension. Look for a restoration requirement letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles, and follow their instructions.

Driving under the influence is a serious crime. Driving on a suspended license following a DUI can make your situation even worse. If you’re facing any such charges, it’s important to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney to understand your best options.