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LEVY MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATOR LICENSE CASE. (03/22/61)

March 22, 1961

LEVY MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATOR LICENSE CASE.


Appeal, No. 27, Feb. T., 1961, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, Oct. T., 1960, No. 730, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Iris Levy. Order reversed.

COUNSEL

Elmer T. Bolla, Deputy Attorney General, with him Anne X. Alpern, Attorney General, for Commonwealth, appellant.

Eugene Roth, with him Harold Rosenn, and Rosenn, Jenkins & Greenwald, for appellee.

Before Ervin, Wright, Woodside, Watkins, Montgomery, and Flood, JJ. (rhodes, P.j., absent).

Author: Woodside

[ 194 Pa. Super. Page 391]

OPINION BY WOODSIDE, J.

Iris Levy, a Pennsylvania resident licensed in this state to operate a motor vehicle, paid a fine for speeding in New Jersey. As a result, that state suspended her privilege to operate a motor vehicle in New Jersey for 30 days effective May 3, 1960.

Subsequently, the Pennsylvania Secretary of Revenue received notice of the conviction in New Jersey,

[ 194 Pa. Super. Page 392]

    and after a hearing suspended Levy's license for 30 days from July 11, 1960. See § 618(e) of The Vehicle Code of April 29, 1959, P.L. 58, 75 P.S. § 618(e).

Upon appeal, the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas reversed the Secretary of Revenue, and set aside the suspension. The Commonwealth appealed to this Court.

The court below thought that the suspension in New Jersey during one thirty day period, and the suspension in Pennsylvania during a different thirty day period constituted "two sentences for one offense," and that therefore the suspension in Pennsylvania was not lawful. Although several lower courts have arrived at similar conclusions, there is no merit in this position.

The suspension of an operator's license is not a "sentence," nor is it, in the strict use of the term, a penalty. "Penalty" has many different shades of meaning; it is among the most elastic terms known to the law. It is sometimes loosely used to include all actions involving hurtful or disadvantageous consequences, but in its more restricted use it refers only to a deprivation of property or some right. See Words and Phrases, "Penalty," Black's Law Dictionary, 4th Edition, and Webster's International Dictionary. A license to operate a motor vehicle on public highways is a privilege and not a property right. Commonwealth v. Harrison, 183 Pa. Superior Ct. 133, 143, 130 A.2d 198 (1957). Revocation of an operator's license is not the imposition of a penalty, although the term is sometimes applied to a ...


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