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Gas thieves, take notice in Pa.



Published: Sat, February 8, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Gas thieves, take notice HARRISBURG (AP) -- Filling up a gas tank and then driving off without paying may now cost motorists their driver's licenses under a new Pennsylvania law.

The law went into effect in December, but is being publicized today as gas station owners begin posting stickers warning of its provisions.

It allows for the 30-day suspension of a driver's license and a fine of $500 for anyone convicted three times for the retail theft of gasoline. First and second offenses carry fines of between $100 and $250 and $250 and $500, respectively.

In Pennsylvania, gas stations lose as much as $7 million a year to customers who drive off without paying, said Sen. Allen Kukovich, D-Westmoreland, a proponent of the measure.

The law is meant to serve as a deterrent to young motorists who fit the profile of the typical offender, Kukovich said.

Authorities will be required to show that the drive-off was intentional and not merely a case of forgetting to pay, Kukovich said.

"The purpose isn't to arrest more people. The purpose is to be a deterrent," Kukovich said.

Nineteen states including Pennsylvania have drive-off legislation, according to a spokesman for Kukovich.




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