LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — An Akron man has been charged with vehicular homicide while DUI after a Lancaster County crash. Prosecutors learned that the man’s license should have been suspended due to a prior conviction; however, the suspension had not been imposed. A deeper investigation found that this was not the first time this kind of oversight occurred.

According to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office, 30-year-old Derek Sensenig waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Friday, Oct. 7, relating to charges including homicide by vehicle while DUI.

Stemming from a fatal accident involving Sensenig that occurred on Sept. 2, a Magisterial District Judge ordered Sensenig to face six charges including felony counts of homicide by vehicle while DUI and homicide by vehicle, three misdemeanor counts of DUI of alcohol and drugs, and a summary count of leaving his traffic lane.

Shortly after the crash, prosecutors learned that Sensenig had previously pleaded guilty and been sentenced for a different DUI charge in July of 2022. This sentence included a mandatory one-year suspension of Sensensig’s driver’s license.

However, the suspension had not yet been imposed at the time of the Sept. 2 fatal crash, in part due to the failure of the Lancaster County Clerk of Courts Office to notify PennDOT of Sensenig’s conviction, according to the district attorney’s office.

Pennsylvania law requires the Clerk of Court’s Office to send a DL-21 form to PennDOT within 10 days of any conviction of a vehicle code offense. After PennDOT receives the DL-21, it is required to notify the driver, in writing, of their suspension. A driver is informed at the time of their sentence that the suspension will take effect within 60 days, but PennDOT will not take action until a DL-21 form is received from the Clerk of Courts, the district attorney’s office explained. 

The reporting timelines are required by law and work together to keep unsafe drivers off the road as soon as possible after a conviction, the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office said.

The records in Sensenig’s case showed that a DL-21 form had not been sent by the Clerk of Courts at the time of the September crash, 38 days after his DUI conviction in July. The clerk’s office did correct the error after being alerted to it by the district attorney’s office, calling it an “oversight” in correspondence with the district attorney’s office and saying it was not due to filing backlogs.

After the error was discovered, the district attorney’s office reviewed a sample of DUI convictions over a 60-day period to see whether PennDOT was receiving timely notice of drivers’ convictions in other cases.

Of the approximately 110 DUI convictions reviewed, it was found that the DL-21 form had not yet been prepared or submitted in 24 of them, all of which were beyond the 10-day filing limit as required by law.

Clerk of Courts Mary Anater was notified of the additional cases on Sept. 14, 2022. At this time, the district attorney requested that the clerk’s office or an independent auditor review all cases where a DL-21 form was required and take immediate corrective action in any cases necessary, according to the district attorney’s office. A search was reportedly completed, and corrections were made.

It is unclear how many additional cases were impacted and over what period of time, the district attorney’s office noted.

“While we cannot say that this tragedy (on Sept. 2) would have been prevented had the clerk’s office submitted the notice to PennDOT in a timely manner as required by law, it certainly highlights the reason why it is critical that these forms be submitted in a timely and accurate manner to PennDOT,” said District Attorney Heather Adams.

Defendants who were convicted and sentenced for vehicle code violations in the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas may be receiving delayed notice from PennDOT of the suspension of their driver’s license, the district attorney’s office said.

Anyone who is concerned about the timely suspension of their license can call PennDOT at 1-800-932-4600 to inquire about the status of their license.

Sensenig is being held at Lancaster County Prison on $50,000 bail and is presumed innocent, the district attorney’s office noted.