Act 95 Updates: Tens of Thousands of Pennsylvanians Remain Under License Suspension

Katie Phillips Access to Health + Wellness, Active + Engaged Residents, Advocacy, Diverse + Connected Region, Featured Advocacy, Opportunities for Success

40+ Organizations Collaborate to Urge Governor Wolf to Enforce Act 95 Retroactively

Late in 2018, House Bill 163, now Act 95, was passed by the Pennsylvania legislature and signed into law by Governor Wolf to eliminate driver’s license suspensions for many non-driving infractions. The PA legislature found license suspension for non-driving infractions to be unnecessarily harsh and affirmatively detrimental to rehabilitiation.

Driver’s licenses help people access jobs, healthcare, childcare, family and social supports, and more. That’s why PUMP and hundreds of people in our network worked collaboratively with many others as part of the Driven to Work Coalition to advocate for the passage of Act 95.

Thanks in part to your direct support and advocacy, our legislature took a critical step toward breaking down barriers for individuals involved in the criminal justice system. This common-sense reform removed a major barrier to reentry for Pennsylvanians, affecting upwards of 20,000 people each year.

Although this was a big win, Act 95 unfortunately does not apply retroactively to the tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians who already had their license suspended for non-driving infractions prior to its passage. These individuals continue to face considerable barriers to work and well-being, including unecessary and counter-productive driver’s license suspensions.

To address the retroactivity issue, more than 40 organizations, including PUMP, recently joined together to send a letter to Governor Wolf and PennDot to urge them to address this oversight. The letter was supported by national organizations, such as Equal Justice Under Law and Center for Employment Opportunities, and local, Pennsylvania-based organizations such as Returning Citizens for a Better Philadelphia and The Office of the Public Defender here in Pittsburgh.

Collectively, we urge Governor Wolf and PennDot to “break down unecessary and difficult roadblocks for thousands of Pennsylvanians still struggling with non-driving license suspension.” Read the full letter here.

PUMP is committed to the commonsense criminal justice reform that we advocated for in 2018. We believe in protection and support for formerly incarcerated people, including through access to employment, education, and strong communities – all of which is supported by access to driver’s licenses.

The work to apply Act 95 retroactively continues into 2020, just as we know that new opportunities for positive reform will arise in the coming months.

We hope we can count on you to step forward and speak up with us, with organizations across the state, and with the tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians still impacted by driver’s license suspensions. With you – the active and engaged residents who take action – we know we can continue to create change.