Driver’s license suspensions in hundreds of criminal cases in Pennsylvania since 2008 are being carried out now because of what York County, Penn., officials say was an oversight.
The York Dispatch reported on August 6 that defendants in about 2,000 cases who were convicted or pleaded guilty to certain drug offenses, such as simple drug possession or dealing, never received the automatic six-month suspension the law requires.
County Clerk of Courts Don O’Shell says the suspensions were not executed because some former clerks in his office did not notify PennDOT about the drug cases.
“I was unaware and I should have been aware,” he said.
Suspensions in all drunk-driving cases were being properly reported, he said.
O’Shell launched an internal review after reading about a pair of traffic fatalities in Philadelphia that involved drivers whose licenses should have been suspended for drug convictions.
The cases that have come to light so far were among 12,000 drug-offense notifications. O’Shell said more discrepancies are likely as he extends the review to 2004, when he took office.
“I suspect the number will continue to grow, maybe by as much as 2,000 or 3,000 more,” he said.
Nearly all the clerks who failed to make the PennDOT notifications are no longer employed by the office, but not for disciplinary reasons, O’Shell told the newspaper. Clerks who fail to comply in the future will be disciplined, he added.
York lawyer Jeff Marshall said he’s been contacted by two former clients who were notified their licenses were being suspended. He said, “it just seems unfair to these clients.”
“Most of them have completed their supervision, gained employment and moved on with their lives,” he said. “It’s a significant hardship.”
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