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Bills to decrease minor drug offense penalties in PA advance

Drug offenses are some of the most aggressively prosecuted crimes. People can wind up spending years in prison for even a single or minor offense. And because many of the people who face these penalties are young people, they often suffer severe consequences like loss of academic and professional opportunities as well as a lifetime of being held back by a criminal record.

However, state legislators are working to alleviate some of the burden created by minor drug convictions in Pennsylvania. Currently, two bills are working their way through the General Assembly that would align better with state policies and prevent unnecessarily harsh penalties.

Letting drivers keep their licenses

According to reports, House Bills 928 and 163 both aim to eliminate the penalty of losing a driver's license, which is currently possible for people charged with minor drug possession charges. 

Losing a driver's license is not an insignificant punishment. Without a license, people can be unable to get to work or school; they may not be able to transport their children where they need to be; they could miss court dates and other important meetings. It can have a far more serious impact on a person's life than people might expect.

Other proposed changes

Proposed measures would also reduce the fines and maximum jail time a person currently faces. Instead of facing a $500 fine and 30 days in jail, a person possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana would face a maximum $300 fine and zero jail time.

What this means going forward

These measures have yet to be approved, which means that people can still lose their license and face jail time for minor drug offenses. And even though police in many cities across Pennsylvania may not prioritize arrests of people for minor marijuana crimes, there are still penalties for breaking state and federal laws.

With so much changing when it comes to this area of law, it can be easy to get confused about how to respond to drug-related charges. This is one reason why it is so important to have knowledgeable legal representation by your side if you are facing any type of drug charges in Pennsylvania. 

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