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

March 22, 1961

WITSCH MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATOR LICENSE CASE.


Appeal, No. 438, Oct. T., 1960, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County June T., 1960, No. 24, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. John Frederick Witsch. Order reversed.

COUNSEL

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

Edward J. Hardiman, with him Pearlstine, Salkin & Hardiman, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, Watkins, and Montgomery, JJ.

Author: Woodside

[ 194 Pa. Super. Page 385]

OPINION BY WOODSIDE, J.

This is an appeal by the Commonwealth from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County reversing the order of the Secretary of Revenue suspending the motor vehicle license of John Frederick Witsch for one month.

Section 618(e) of The Vehicle Code of 1959, P.L. 58, 75 P.S. ยง 618, provides: "The secretary is hereby authorized after a hearing before the secretary or his representative, or upon failure of the said person to appear at such hearing, to suspend the operator's license or learner's permit of any person licensed in this Commonwealth, upon receiving notice of the conviction of such person in another state of an offense therein which, if committed in this Commonwealth, would be grounds for the suspension or revocation of the license of an operator." (Emphasis supplied.)

When an appeal is taken to the court of common pleas from a suspension made by the secretary under the above provision, the Commonwealth should offer into evidence the notice which it received of the appellant's

[ 194 Pa. Super. Page 386]

    conviction. The licensee must be given an opportunity to be heard, at which time he may testify and present other evidence that he was not convicted "in another state of an offense therein which, if committed in this Commonwealth, would be grounds for the suspension or revocation of the license of an operator."

If the requisite notice was given to the secretary, and if the appellant does not deny the conviction, it is the duty of the court of common pleas to sustain the suspension imposed by the secretary. If the requisite notice was not given, or if the appellant establishes by his evidence that he was not convicted of such offense, then the court should reverse the action of the secretary. Commonwealth v. Halteman, 192 Pa. Superior Ct. 379, 385, 386, 162 A.2d 251 (1960).

Evidence of the circumstances of the violation is admissible before the secretary to aid him in determining the length of the suspension. The circumstances of the violation are not relevant on appeal to reduce the period of suspension, but may be admissible if they throw light upon whether the appellant was convicted of an offense described in the above provision. ...


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