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COMMONWEALTH v. EMERICK (04/22/53)

April 22, 1953

COMMONWEALTH, APPELLANT,
v.
EMERICK



Appeal, No. 151, March T., 1952, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, March T., 1952, No. 43, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Marl Raymond Emerick, Jr. Order reversed.

COUNSEL

Randolph C. Ryder, Deputy Attorney General, with him Robert B. Greer, Jr., and Robert E. Woodside, Attorney General, for appellant.

No argument was made nor brief submitted for appellee.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Chidsey, Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Stearne

[ 373 Pa. Page 390]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ALLEN M. STEARNE

This appeal and nine others, argued at the same time, necessitate a re-examination of the functions of the Secretary of Revenue, the Courts of Common Pleas, and the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania under The Vehicle Code, 1929, May 1, P.L. 905, as amended, 75 P.S. 1 et seq., relating to suspensions of motor license operation privilege.

Under the Statutory Construction Act, 1937, May 28, P.L. 1019, Art. IV, § 51, 46 P.S. 551, the object of judicial interpretation and construction of a statute is to ascertain and effectuate the intention of the Legislature. Such intention, when the words are not explicit, the court may ascertain, inter alia, from (a) the occasion and necessity for the law; (b) the mischief

[ 373 Pa. Page 391]

    to be remedied; and (c) the object to be attained: Salvation Army Case,, 349 Pa. 105, 108, 36 A.2d 479; McClelland v. Pittsburgh, 358 Pa. 448, 459, 57 A.2d 846.

Authority need not be cited to establish that upon the advent and tremendous development of automotive transportation there has been an extraordinary impact upon and change in the mode of life and habits of mankind. Automobiles on land, airplanes in the air, and ships on and under the sea have effected an incredible widening of the perimeter of human activities. Time and space have been contracted in unbelievable measure. In the present appeals we are only concerned with vehicular operation upon land. Auxiliary to automobile movements, to facilitate such travel in safety and speed, the Commonwealth has expended enormous sums of money in the construction and maintenance of modern highways. It has authorized a quasi-public authority to construct, operate, and maintain at least one toll road of over three hundred miles in length extending entirely across the Commonwealth. This highway was designed for high speed and reasonably safe automobile travel. In increasing numbers highways have interlaced the entire country from coast to coast and from border to border. This has contributed to an enormous increase in automobile travel in the United States. Automobiles and trucks are self-propelled vehicles of great weight and are frequently capable of speed equal to, if not exceeding, that of a locomotive running on rails erected on rights of way and guided and partially controlled by electric signal devices and automatic safety controls. The Commonwealth has consequently been required to enact and enforce comprehensive traffic rules and regulations, culminating in the amended Vehicle Code, supra. It has a vital interest concerning possible loss of life and injury of

[ 373 Pa. Page 392]

    automobile operators and their passengers and also in the safety of other occupants of automobiles, pedestrians, property, and of the public generally. Highways must be made and kept as safe as possible for use by the public. The tremendous traffic, together with the facilities for high speed over improved roads, creates a real hazard and a necessity for comprehensive, detailed regulatory and supervisory measures which have been enacted by the Legislature in The Vehicle Code and its amendments. The issuance and use of vehicle title certificates; motor registration; license plates, operating licenses [with ...


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