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A man who was arrested in Ohio for driving under the influence of alcohol before Pennsylvania enacted the Driver’s License Compact but who was convicted of the crime after the compact became law can still have his Pennsylvania driver’s license suspended, the Supreme Court has ruled. “[Appellant] asserts that the provisions of the compact regarding suspension of licenses are triggered on the date an offense occurs, not on the date of conviction,” Justice Sandra Schulz Newman wrote in Schrankel v. PennDOT. “[The Department of Transportation], on the other hand, contends that the application of the compact for conduct occurring before the effective date of the act is not an improper retroactive law because Article IV of the compact specifically indicates that the event that triggers the suspension provisions is the driver’s conviction. We agree with DOT.” Charles R. Schrankel was arrested for DUI on March 5, 1995, in Ohio. Pennsylvania enacted the compact on Dec. 10, 1996. Schrankel was convicted of DUI in Ohio on March 21, 1997. Pursuant to the provisions of the compact, Ohio notified Pennsylvania of Schrankel’s conviction, and PennDOT notified Schrankel that his driver’s license would be suspended for a year. Schrankel appealed his suspension to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, which sustained the appeal. The high court said the trial court “mistakenly assumed” that Schrankel’s conviction came before the compact was enacted. The Commonwealth Court reversed the decision, ruling that the conviction date was the “trigger date” and since that happened after the compact became law, Schrankel’s license should be suspended. Schrankel appealed to the state Supreme Court. On appeal, Schrankel argued that Article IV of the compact provides that the trigger date is the date an offense occurs. PennDOT countered that the conviction was the pertinent date. Article IV of the compact says in part that “the licensing authority in the home state, for the purposes of suspension, revocation or limitation of the license to operate a motor vehicle, shall give the same effect to the conduct reported, pursuant to Article III of this compact …” Article III of the compact, however, requires the licensing authority in the state where an offense occurs to report all convictions to an offender’s home state. The court cited Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Zdrok where the state Supreme Court ruled that a lawyer who engaged in criminal conduct prior to receiving his law license but wasn’t convicted until afterward could still have his law license suspended. The high court, therefore, concluded that Schrankel’s conviction was the proper trigger date. “The compact at Article III quite succinctly states that the authorities `shall report each conviction’ to the home state,” Newman wrote. “It is only after the report of conviction is received in the home state that the authorities, pursuant to Article IV, look to the conduct involved to assess what effect that such conduct shall have in the home state.” “Accordingly, we hold that the triggering date for the suspension provisions in the compact, due to a DUI committed in another state, is the date of the conviction for such DUI and that any such suspension is not an improper retroactive law.” Justices Ronald D. Castille and Thomas Saylor concurred in the result without filing a separate opinion.

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