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COMMONWEALTH v. BARTLEY (06/07/63)

June 7, 1963

COMMONWEALTH
v.
BARTLEY, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 58, March T., 1963, from judgment of County Court of Allegheny County, No. C-1692 of 1961, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William Leo Bartley. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

A. A. Bluestone, with him A. S. Fingold, for appellant.

Elmer T. Bolla, Deputy Attorney General, with him Walter E. Alessandroni, Attorney General, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'brien and Roberts, JJ.

Author: Cohen

[ 411 Pa. Page 288]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE COHEN

This is an appeal from a conviction for speeding under the radar provisions of The Vehicle Code. Since this case calls into question the mechanics of the radar timing system itself, it is necessary to give a brief explanation of the procedure employed by the state police.

The radar set which timed appellant consists of a radar transmitter and receiver placed in the open trunk of an automobile which is parked on the shoulder of the highway. The transmitter emits a cone-shaped beam of radio waves which extends up the lane of oncoming traffic for a distance of 200 to 300 feet. When a vehicle comes into the zone of influence of the radar (i.e., 200 to 300 feet from the unit), the radio waves strike the vehicle and the motion of the vehicle causes the radio waves to return to the receiver at a frequency different from that which was transmitted. The variance is then translated into a reading of miles per hour upon the radar meter. The angle of the instrument is set in such a manner that the beam does not reflect the speed of traffic coming in the opposite direction. This radar set is the standard equipment used by most police agencies throughout the country and is tested for accuracy in accordance with the radar provisions of The Vehicle Code.*fn1

On the night in question, Officers Chylak and Rogers manned the radar unit. Officer Chylak sat in the front seat of the car with the meter on his lap and when an on-coming vehicle registered a speed in excess of the legal limit he would notify Officer Rogers, sitting next to him, who would visually follow the path of the on-coming vehicle through the rear window, continuing to follow the vehicle until it passed by them. Officer Chylak would also follow the path of the vehicle through the rear view mirror. Having set up the

[ 411 Pa. Page 289]

    radar, tested it, and adjusted the angle of its beam, both men were well acquainted with the point on the highway where the instrument first picks up the speed of on-coming vehicles and they therefore were able to select the particular vehicle in a line of vehicles which registered on the meter.

The evidence discloses that on September 17, 1961, at 10:25 p.m., appellant-Bartley was operating a tractor-trailer truck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in an easterly direction in the right lane of traffic when he was stopped for speeding. At the time in question, appellant was traveling in a line of five vehicles, with a gap existing between each vehicle of about 400 feet. The first three vehicles passed through the beam without registering an unlawful speed, but a vehicle, later identified as appellant's, broke the beam at a speed of 60 miles per hour, 10 miles over the posted 50 miles per hour limit for trucks. After visually following the lights of appellant's vehicle until it passed by their car, Officers Chylak and Rogers then identified the truck by its markings and description which were illuminated by the headlights of the vehicle behind it. The officers then radioed this description to an interceptor car which stopped appellant's truck. When halted appellant made a statement to the officer impliedly admitting that he knew he was exceeding the legal limit. Later at trial he denied making this statement. The lower court found appellant guilty and an appeal to this Court followed.

Appellant raises two major contentions : First, he maintains that section 1002(d) of The Vehicle Code should be construed to required radar measurement of speed for at least one-quarter of a mile; and second, that the state troopers could not identify beyond a reasonable doubt the particular vehicle which registered the 60 miles per hour speed on the radar meter.

[ 411 Pa. Page 290]

Turning to the contention, an examination of the purposes and structure of The Vehicle Code is essential. The Act of April 29, 1959, P.L. 58, § 1002, as amended, 75 P.S. § 1002, contains subsections (a), (b), (c), and (d). Subsections (a) through (c) establish maximum legal speeds, graduated according to the type of area and vehicle involved. In other words, these subsections define the various types of speeding offenses. Subsection (d), on the other hand, does not define the offense of speeding but, instead, prescribes the methods by which a speeding offense must be ascertained and the type of evidence necessary to prove such violation.*fn2 See Sheehy Motor Vehicle Operator License Case, 196 Pa. Superior Ct. 122, 127, 173 A.2d 752, 754 (1961). These methods are: (1) In residential or commercial areas, by a measured stretch of not less than one-eighth of a mile, manned by peace officers

[ 411 Pa. Page 291]

    at each end of the stretch; or (2) under any conditions by a peace officer following a vehicle and timing it on his speedometer for a distance of not less than one-quarter of a mile. Subsection (d) was amended by the Act of April 28, 1961, P.L. 108, § 2, 75 P.S. § 1002(d.1)(1) (1962 Supp.), which authorizes the use of radiomicrowave equipment in timing speed.*fn3

Appellant takes the position that since the radar amendment is silent as to required distances of measurement, the legislature intended to incorporate in the amendment the minimum distances contained in the part of subsection (d) set forth above. We do not agree. An examination of the entire statutory scheme indicates that measurement by radar is merely another method by which speeding violations may be ascertained and proved, and this method is separate and apart from the other two types of measurement. Indeed, it would be a tortured construction to read the aforementioned minimum distances into the amendment. In the area where appellant's truck was stopped for speeding, before the radar amendment the Act of 1959 would have required that his speed "be timed for a distance of not less than one-quarter (1/4) mile, by

[ 411 Pa. Page 292]

    a peace officer using a speedometer." Since the legislature is presumed not to intend an impossible and unreasonable result, this requirement cannot be read into the radar amendment because it would be impossible for a car equipped with radar to follow a vehicle for one-quarter of a mile. See Statutory Construction Act of May 28, 1937, P.L. 1019, Art. IV, § 52(1), 46 P.S. § 552. ...


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