As recently as a few years ago, you had to immediately turn in your driver's license when you went to court to be placed into the ARD program for a DUI in York County, Pennsylvania. That isn't the way it works anymore, and now you have an option to get an ignition interlock license so you can drive. People call this a "blow and go" sometimes. How does this work?
First of all, when you are charged with DUI in York County, Pennsylvania, you will not lose your driver's license for at least a few months, usually. If you refused a chemical test, it is a different story and this article will not apply to you. This whole article is based on a situation where you did give blood (that's the standard chemical test here as of 2020).
You will have a preliminary hearing, an arraignment, and then an ARD admission date. You do not lose your driver's license until after all of those things happen, so it takes a few months.
Up until a few years ago, the judge at the ARD placement hearing would require you to turn in your driver's license then and there. If you talk to someone who went through this back then, they will tell you that's how it works, but things have changed.
Currently, you must surrender your driver's license forty-two days after your ARD admission hearing occurs. What happens is the Clerk of Courts in York sends an electronic notice to PennDOT the day you are placed into the ARD program. This causes PennDOT to automatically generate a letter to you telling you that you will lose your license in six weeks (42 days) and they tell you the exact date in the letter as well as the exact procedures necessary to turn your license in.
If you moved at some point and did not give PennDOT your new address, this letter will not reach you. One of the things that is critical for my clients to do is to make sure that they have updated PennDOT with their most-current address. This is easy and cheap and it saves my clients lots of time and trouble. Here are instructions from PennDOT on how to update your contact information with them.
When you do get this letter, you will need to decide whether you want to get an ignition interlock license for your suspension (usually 30 days or 60 days, depending on your blood test results or whether there's been an accident). If you do not want to do that, please very carefully honor your suspension - getting caught driving under suspension for a DUI-related issue is a serious offense that will land you in jail for between 60 to 90 days automatically.
If you decide you want to apply for an ignition interlock license, you must take your license suspension letter to one of the many ignition interlock providers to get an ignition interlock installed. They need to see the letter to do this. When they install the device in your vehicle and make you watch a training video, they will give you a form certifying that it has been installed. You will need to send that form along with a completed Ignition Interlock Limited License application form to PennDOT. Here is the application with the instructions included. Follow the instructions very carefully.
If you started this process in the week or so after you went to ARD court, you should receive your ignition interlock limited license from PennDOT soon enough that you will be able to drive. The reason the license suspension starts six weeks after you are placed into the ARD program is so you have enough time to get an ignition interlock limited license. Do not delay, though. If you wait until a couple of weeks before your suspension date, you will not have enough time to get everything together.
Look in the coming days for more articles about Ignition Interlock Limited License issues. The whole topic seems simple, but there are some unexpected twists that my clients and I have had to navigate since this option was created by the Legislature.