The procedure to reinstate drivers licenses in Pennsylvania must be completed by drivers with suspended or revoked drivers licenses who would like to continue operating their vehicles within the state. The agency responsible for administering drivers license suspensions in PA is the state Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

The drivers license restoration requirements generally vary based on the committed offense and the resulting penalty. In addition to meeting the reinstatement criteria set forth by the PennDOT, drivers may also be required to satisfy certain court conditions. Learn more about the Pennsylvania drivers license reinstatement process in the sections below.

Reinstating a Pennsylvania Suspended License

Since driving with a suspended license in Pennsylvania is against state law, penalized drivers must complete the steps in the restoration process as soon as they are eligible to do so. The state DOT generally mails out PA driving license suspension notices, which contain information such as the starting and ending dates of the suspension and the type of penalty that was issued.

If you do not obtain information about your suspended drivers license by mail, you can easily order your driving report via the internet and learn more about the penalty in effect against your license.

How to Reinstate a Pennsylvania Suspended Drivers License

The steps in the Pennsylvania driving license reinstatement procedure vary based on the severity of the committed offense and the type of drivers license suspension that was incurred as a result. Drivers who were also convicted in court will have to meet additional reinstatement requirements. When reinstating drivers licenses in PA, motorists will generally be required to complete the following steps:

  • Surrender their suspended driving licenses to the PennDOT.
  • Complete the driving license revocation or suspension period.
  • Pay the corresponding reinstatement fees.
  • Satisfy certain court-set conditions (if required).
  • Submit proof of liability car insurance.
  • Reapply for a new PA license to drive (if required).

Since the department reviews PA driving license restoration requests on a case-by-case basis, you may also be required to complete additional steps, specific to your circumstances. Note that your period of suspension or revocation will not begin until you deliver your credential to the department.

Suspension Periods in Pennsylvania

Before submitting a Pennsylvania driving license restoration request, drivers will often be required to wait out a specific penalty period as part of their reinstatement requirements. The duration of the drivers license suspension or revocation period varies based on several factors, such as the seriousness of the offense and whether or not the driver has previously committed similar violations.

Review several offenses and the resulting PA driving license suspension and revocation periods in the following list:

  • Drivers younger than 18 years convicted of driving more than 25 mph over the posted limit: A suspended drivers license for the duration of 90 days.
  • Failure to stop for a parked school bus: A suspension of 60 days.
  • Injuring a worker in a work zone while operating a motor vehicle: A 90-day drivers license suspension.
  • Accumulating more than 11 points on your record: 55 days to one full year of suspension.

Certain types of PA driving license revocations and suspensions will last indefinitely. If you fail to settle an out-of-state traffic citation, for instance, your driving privileges will be suspended by the PennDOT until you do so.

Pennsylvania Point System

Pennsylvania driving license suspensions may also be incurred by accumulating a large number of demerit points on your driving record. Convictions of moving violations result in a certain number of negative points, which varies based on the nature of the offense.

Suspended drivers licenses may even be issued to motorists who accumulate six points on their driving record for the first time. The following list outlines several types of corrective actions administered by the PennDOT as a result of accruing demerit points on your record:

  • First accumulation of six points – The driver receives a written notice to pass the DOT point examination. If you fail to pass the exam within 30 days of receiving the letter, your license will be suspended.
  • Second instance of accumulation of six points – The motorist must attend a Departmental Hearing, which may result in a 15-day PA drivers license suspension and/or a mandatory road skills exam.
  • Third or subsequent instances of accumulation of six points – The driver must attend the DOT Departmental Hearing, which may lead to a suspended driving license of 30 days.
  • Accruing more than 10 points – Drivers are penalized with an automatic driving license suspension of varying durations (repeat offenders are issued a longer penalty).

Note: Drivers younger than 18 years of age who accrue six points on their records will be automatically suspended for the duration of 90 to 120 days.

More serious infractions generally incur a larger amount of penalty points than minor offenses. If you violate the restrictions of your license, for instance, you will be penalized with two negative points. Leaving the scene of an accident, on the other hand, results in four demerit points. To obtain the full schedule of traffic violations and their corresponding point penalties, contact a local PennDOT office.

Traffic School in Pennsylvania

Drivers who are at risk of a suspended driving license in Pennsylvania for an excess of negative points may be able to avoid the penalty by completing an approved defensive driving course. Prior to enrolling in a traffic school program, contact the department to inquire about whether or not you are able to remove points or obtain point credits by completing the course.

Motorists who are unable to avoid a PA driving license suspension by reducing their total point count with a course certificate can still enroll in a traffic school and improve their safe driving habits. By doing so, drivers will be more attentive in future driving situations, which will help them avoid incurring further traffic tickets.

In addition to obtaining the means to avoid a suspended drivers license in PA, drivers who enroll in a defensive driving program may be able to receive other benefits as well. For instance, certain car insurance providers in PA may lower your coverage rates if you submit a certificate of completion of a driving course. Check with your insurance company to inquire about whether or not you are eligible for this benefit.

Furthermore, depending on the discretion of certain state courts, drivers convicted of certain traffic offenses may be mandated to complete a defensive driving course as part of their license reinstatement criteria.

Types of Pennsylvania Driver’s License Suspensions

Since the process to reinstate driving licenses in Pennsylvania varies based on the type of penalty that was incurred, drivers who review the various PA driving license suspensions will be better prepared when reinstating their credentials. Instead of suspended driving licenses, motorists who commit certain serious offenses may be penalized with revoked driving licenses.

When reinstating their credentials in such cases, drivers may be required to meet more complex reinstatement criteria than the ones that apply for suspended licenses. Several violations resulting in different drivers license suspensions in PA are outlined in the following list:

  • Racing on public highways.
  • Committing homicide while operating a vehicle.
  • Fleeing from a law enforcement official.
  • Driving with a suspended license in PA.
  • Reckless driving.

Pennsylvania DUI Suspensions

Driving under the influence (DUI) offenses incurs severe driving license suspensions in Pennsylvania, as the state recognizes the adverse effect of intoxicating substances on the safety of drivers. In addition to penalties of suspended driving licenses, DUI offenders are also at risk of large fines and jail sentences.

The severity of the PA drivers license suspension and the additional court-issued penalties varies based on several factors. Motorists with a higher Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at the moment of arrest, and those who have previously committed other DUI offenses, are generally sanctioned with harsher penalties.

Drivers Older Than 21

To successfully reinstate suspended drivers licenses in Pennsylvania from a DUI violation, drivers will be required to meet the specific requirements of the imposed penalty. Per state laws, PA suspended drivers licenses are handed down to motorists who were apprehended while driving with a BAC level higher than .08.

One-year drivers license suspensions are also incurred by refusing to undergo the chemical test for alcohol or drugs, when requested by a police officer. Review several DUI-related violations and the sanctions issued as a result in Pennsylvania:

  • A first offense of driving with a BAC level between .08 and .10 results in a $300 fine and six-month probation.
  • Drivers convicted of driving with a BAC between .10 and .16 for the first time are penalized with a 12-month drivers license suspension, a $500 to $5,000 fine and a jail sentence of two days to six months.
  • First convictions of operating a vehicle with a BAC of .16 or higher lead to suspended driving licenses for the duration of 12 months, a fine of $1.000 to $5,000 and a jail sentence of up to six months.

Repeat offenders incur stricter PA driving license suspensions, larger fines and longer jail sentences. If you commit a third or subsequent offense of operating a vehicle with a BAC of .16 or higher, for instance, you will be penalized with an 18-month license suspension, a minimum fine of $2,500 and a jail sentence of one to five years.

When reinstating suspended driving licenses in PA after a DUI conviction, drivers may also be required to attend an alcohol highway safety program, install an ignition interlock device and/or undergo an alcohol treatment program. Certain state courts also impose community service penalties of varying length.

Drivers Younger Than 21

Stricter Pennsylvania drivers license suspensions, fines and jail penalties are issued to motorists younger than 21 years of age who commit a DUI offense due to the provisions of the state Zero Tolerance Law. Also, young motorists will incur a suspended drivers license even if they operate their vehicles with a BAC higher than .01 percent.

First-time offenders may incur a one-year driving license suspension, a jail sentence of two days to six months and a fine of $500 to $5,000. Note that minor drivers are also at risk of a suspension even if they buy, consume or possess alcohol, regardless of whether or not they are operating a vehicle at the time.

If you were penalized with a suspended driving license in PA for a DUI-related offense, but you do not yet own a state-issued driving credential, you will be unable to apply for a learning permit until you complete the suspension period.

Car Insurance Suspensions in Pennsylvania

Reinstating drivers licenses in Pennsylvania is a process that must also be completed by drivers who were penalized for failing to maintain the mandatory liability auto insurance within the state. Driving license suspensions for the duration of three months are issued to drivers whose coverage has been invalid for longer than 30 days.

In such cases, motorists will be required to surrender their driver’s license and registration plates to the PennDOT and pay a $300 fine in order to start their period of suspension. To reinstate suspended driving licenses in PA after a no-insurance offense, motorists will be required to provide proof of vehicle insurance coverage and pay the drivers license restoration fee.

Note: The minimum required car liability coverage is $5,000 for property damages and $30,000 for injury or death of all participants in the traffic accident.

Traffic Summons or Failure to Pay

Drivers are also penalized with a Pennsylvania drivers license suspension if they fail to pay their traffic tickets. To avoid a suspended driving license in PA for an unpaid citation, motorists will be required to provide the necessary payment by the date displayed on the ticket.

Depending on the practices of the presiding court, motorists may be able to pay the ticket fine via the internet, in person or by mail. If you decide to settle your citation by paying it, you are declaring your guilt and the PennDOT will add points to your record. In such cases, you may still incur a driving license suspension for an excess of points.

If you believe that you were not at fault for the traffic ticket, on the other hand, then you can contest the ticket in court. If the judge declares you not guilty, the ticket will be dismissed, and the department will not add points to your record.

According to the provisions established by the interstate Driver’s License Compact (DLC), PA suspended drivers licenses are also issued to drivers who fail to settle a traffic ticket incurred outside of the state. In such circumstances, your driving privileges will remain suspended until you resolve the issue.

Pennsylvania Hardship Drivers License

While completing the Pennsylvania drivers license reinstatement procedure, drivers with suspended credentials may be eligible to apply for a hardship driving license, which will allow them to operate a vehicle under certain conditions. The Occupational Limited License (OLL) can generally be used to travel to and from designated locations, such as school, employment and medical facilities.

Suspended drivers must, however, meet certain PA driving license restoration requirements prior to applying for the OLL credential. For instance, motorists who have failed to pay their reinstatement fees or settle any citations are not eligible for an occupational license. The PennDOT will process requests for OLL licenses only if they were submitted by drivers who meet the following criteria:

  • They qualify for an OLL license based on the type of the committed violation.
  • Their driving privileges were not revoked, canceled, recalled or disqualified.
  • They have not applied for an OLL credential within the last five years.
  • They have installed an ignition interlock device (if required).

Applying for a Pennsylvania Hardship License

Drivers completing the penalty period of their suspended drivers licenses in Pennsylvania can apply for the PennDOT hardship license in person or by mail. Applicants can obtain the Occupational Limited License Petition (Form DL-15) via the website of the PennDOT. After filling out the form, deliver it to the address displayed within.

The PennDOT will determine whether or not you qualify for a provisional drivers license in PA based on the offenses currently present on your driving record. Note that in addition to the DL-15, drivers will also be required to provide payment for the applicable fees, as well as proof of insurance.

Motorists whose applications for OLL credentials have been accepted will receive a camera card which must be taken to the nearest PennDOT Photo License Center. The PA occupational license will remain valid until the end of a suspension period. However, if the driver violates the conditions of the OLL credential and/or commit another offense, the department will recall his or her license.

Fees to Reinstate a Pennsylvania Drivers License

When reinstating suspended drivers licenses in Pennsylvania, motorists will often be required to pay several types of driving license reinstatement fees. The base restoration cost varies depending on the reason for the penalty.

To obtain more information about the PA drivers license restoration fee applicable to your situation, either review your suspension notice or contact a local DOT office. After obtaining information about the due amount, you can provide your payment through the Online Driver License Services section of the department’s website with a valid credit or debit card.

Prior to paying the fee to reinstate drivers licenses in PA, motorists may also be required to provide payment for certain court-imposed fees and costs. If you were issued a suspended drivers license for failing to pay your traffic ticket, for instance, you will first be required to pay the ticket before reinstating your credential.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 3 2020.