In 2019 Pennsylvania and PennDOT began aggressively enforcing the federal National Driver Register (NDR) program. This guide explains the NDR and its effects on DUIs and Traffic and Speeding Tickets.
What is the NDR?
The NDR is part federal legislation and part federal regulation. Contained in 23 C.F.R. Part 1325 and 1327, the NDR as we know it includes a Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS), a national driver computer database, and rules for states to follow. All 50 states adhere to the NDR. Under the NDR, states are required to report various driving convictions and accompanying actions (such as suspensions) to the NDR database, and home states are required to check the NDR database prior to renewing licenses, issuing new licenses, or issuing duplicate licenses. Drivers convicted of DUI, or other traffic violations, are most concerned with 23 C.F.R. Section 1327.5(b)(1), which requires a home state to check the NDR database for each driver before issuing a license, renewing a license, or issuing a duplicate license.
Why PennDOT is wrong about the NDR
As of the writing of this article, when a Pennsylvania driver goes to renew his or her license, and has a pending DUI suspension in another state, PennDOT instructs the driver that they cannot renew their license (or get a duplicate license) because the NDR prevents it. This is false. The NDR does not prohibit home states from issuing licenses, duplicate licenses, or renewals for drivers who are suspended by another state. 23 C.F.R. section 1327.5(b)(1) only requires home states to check the NDR database before issuing a license, renewing a license, or issuing a duplicate license. Section 1327.5(b)(1) states: [T]he chief driver licensing official of a participating state shall submit an inquiry to both the NDR and the Commercial Driver's Licensing Information System for each driver license applicant before issuing a license to that applicant. The issuance of a license includes but is not limited to any original, renewal, temporary, or duplicate license that results in a grant or extension of driving privileges in a participating State." Nothing in the NDR prohibits, stops, or prevents the home state (such as Pennsylvania) from issuing a license. The NDR only requires the home state to check the NDR first.
DUI, NDR, and PennDOT
The NDR doesn't prevent PennDOT from renewing a license for a driver who is DUI suspended in another state, but Pennsylvania law does. 75 Pa.C.S. Section 1503(a)(1) states that PennDOT shall not renew the driver's license of any person "whose operating privilege is suspended or revoked in another state." This is a legal Catch 22 for Pennsylvania drivers, who may not be suspended under Pennsylvania law due to an out of state DUI conviction, but cannot renew their license under Section 1503. Drivers caught in this predicament must consult with legal counsel. There is an old legal principle: "The law abhors an absurd result." This is an absurd result.
NDR, PennDOT, Duplicate Licenses
Neither the NDR, nor Pennsylvania law, prevents PennDOT from issuing a duplicate license to a PA driver who is suspended in another state. In fact, 75 Pa.C.S. Section 1513 requires PennDOT to issue a duplicate license to drivers- regardless of any other condition such as a suspension in another state.
Out of state drivers, points, Pennsylvania, NDR
If you are an out of state driver facing a Pennsylvania traffic ticket, be sure to contact a Pennsylvania lawyer versed in the NDR. You should take precautions to mitigate any Pennsylvania traffic ticket that could be reported to the NDR (or companion program AAMVAnet) and result in license repercussions in your home state.
Practical information for PA Drivers on NDR
Before pleading guilty or accepting a deferred adjudication program for DUI or a traffic offense in another state, Pennsylvania drivers should check to see when their PA license will expire. Work with your attorney to plan court dates or effective dates of suspension that will enable you to renew your PA license or obtain a duplicate license.
Nothing in this guide should be construed as legal advice- regardless of the website tab above. Every case has unique facts that must be discussed in consultation with an attorney in order to obtain proper legal representation.
Additional resources provided by the author
To understand more about the NDR computer database, and citation reporting from state to state, visit the AAMVA link below.
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