Driver’s License Suspensions and the Impact on Young People in Pennsylvania 

License suspensions are particularly harmful for young people as it is often a key factor in their ability to finish school, obtain employment, and access healthcare. To understand the scope of the issue and determine whether there are racial disparities in driving violations among young people, The Buhl Foundation conducted an analysis of driving violations and license suspensions amongst youth in Pennsylvania. A review of all PennDOT suspension records for 16 to 18 year olds between 2014 and 2017 found that a significant number of young people have their licenses suspended and revealed the existence of racial disparities. The findings also suggest that the hurdles in license attainment are more prominent in predominantly black areas. 

Read the full report here

Key Findings: 

  • Between 2014 and 2017, 172,006 drivers, ages 16 to 24, had their license suspended; on average over 57,000 annually. 
  • Failure to pay and failure to respond accounted for 41 percent of all first time suspensions.  
  • Zip codes in predominantly white neighborhoods have higher rates of violations than predominantly black neighborhoods–75.04 compared to 32.98. 
  • Young people in predominantly black zip codes were more likely to receive suspensions for driving without a license or minor traffic violations than youth in predominantly white zip codes; 58 percent of youth in Black zip codes had license suspensions for being unlicensed and 15 percent for minor traffic offenses compared to 34 and 7 percent of youth in white zip codes, respectively. 
Frederick Theiman 
The Buhl Foundation