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ULLMAN MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATOR LICENSE CASE (09/17/64)

decided: September 17, 1964.

ULLMAN MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATOR LICENSE CASE


Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, No. 9948 of 1963, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Roland G. E. Ullman, Jr.

COUNSEL

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

I. B. Sinclair, for appellee.

Ervin, Wright, Woodside, Watkins, Montgomery, and Flood, JJ. (Rhodes, P. J., absent). Opinion by Woodside, J. Ervin and Wright, JJ., concur in the result.

Author: Woodside

[ 204 Pa. Super. Page 147]

Roland G. E. Ullman, Jr., pleaded guilty in Chester County to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor and was sentenced to $100 fine. The clerk of the courts, through his deputy, certified the sentence to the Secretary of Revenue who notified Ullman that his operator's license was revoked. Ullman appealed to the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County where he resided. Judge Toal granted a supersedeas, allowed the appeal and reversed the order of the Secretary. The Commonwealth appealed.

The court below allowed the appeal without statutory authority and in direct violation of a decision of the Supreme Court, which it ignored because "no appearance was made nor brief filed for appellee and we feel that the situation was not thoroughly canvassed" by that Court, and because "It is time that these cases be examined on a broader basis . . .".

At the hearing, Judge Toal refused to admit the document offered by the Commonwealth as the certification by the Clerk of Courts of Chester County of the conviction of Ullman. The apparent grounds for the refusal to admit the certificate were that "the seal is so indistinct"; that the Secretary of Revenue did not certify the document offered as the certification of the Clerk of the Courts; and that the signer of the document was not the clerk of courts but his deputy. The only possible purpose of a hearing would have been to determine whether or not Ullman pleaded guilty or was convicted of operating a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, but this was never considered or even mentioned. Ullman's petition to the Court of Common Pleas for allowance of the appeal did not deny the conviction, nor did he deny it at the hearing. Indeed, his brief to us starts with: "Appellee pleaded guilty on September 9, 1963 . . . to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor."

[ 204 Pa. Super. Page 148]

Hearings are not held for the purpose of determining undisputed facts.

The General Assembly has made it unmistakably clear since 1919 that all persons convicted of operating under the influence must be denied the privilege of operating a motor vehicle for at least one year. When the conviction is admitted, no court should zealously seek ways of defeating the will of the legislature which has been so clearly expressed for so long a time. The policy of mandatory revocation has received almost unanimous support from all branches of the government, including the legislatures, administrations, Boards of Pardons and courts, which have been deluged with all manner of schemes conjured up by the convicted in their efforts to retain the valued privilege which they had abused.

Indeed, there probably is nothing in the law relating to motor vehicles that is more firmly established than the policy of withholding the privilege of operating a motor vehicle from one guilty of this offense. Denial of operating privilege for this offense was authorized by the legislature so long ago that the same statute required an operator "when signaled to do so by the driver of any horse . . . [to] stop the motor-vehicle, and, if circumstances require it . . . stop his engine." See ยงยง 9 and 13 of the Act of April 27, 1909, P. L. 265. At every regular session of the General Assembly since 1909, there have been changes in the motor vehicle law. The changes made to the penalty for operating while under the influence of intoxicating liquor and denying the privilege to operate after conviction have been made progressively more severe by the legislature. In 1909 there was ...


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