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KOWELL MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION CASE. COMMONWEALTH v. KOWELL (03/23/67)

decided: March 23, 1967.

KOWELL MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION CASE. COMMONWEALTH, APPELLANT,
v.
KOWELL



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, Jan. T., 1966, No. 447, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Paul Kowell, alias Paul Kowell, Jr.

COUNSEL

Elmer T. Bolla, Deputy Attorney General, and Edward Friedman, Attorney General, for Commonwealth, appellant.

Bernard S. Shire, and Ezerski and Shire, for appellee.

Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, and Spaulding, JJ. Opinion by Spaulding, J. Jacobs, J., dissents.

Author: Spaulding

[ 209 Pa. Super. Page 387]

An uninsured motor vehicle owned by appellee Paul Kowell was involved in an accident on July 9, 1965. Appellee was an occupant in the car which was being driven by another. The accident, which caused damage to a second vehicle and bodily injury, was reported the following day to the Secretary of Revenue in accordance with The Pennsylvania Vehicle Code.*fn1 Approximately three months later, the Secretary requested appellee to deposit $1,825 by November 4, 1965 as security for any judgment entered against him as a result of the accident. This action was taken pursuant to § 1404(a) of the Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Section of the Code.*fn2 Appellee failed to comply and the Secretary suspended the registration of his automobile

[ 209 Pa. Super. Page 388]

    effective January 18, 1966 as provided in § 1404(b).*fn3 The court below reversed the suspension because the Secretary did not act within sixty days after receipt of the accident report.

Section 1404(b) provides in pertinent part: "The secretary shall, within sixty (60) days after the receipt of such report of a motor vehicle accident, suspend the license of each operator and all registrations of each owner of a motor vehicle in any manner involved in such accident . . . unless such operator or owner or both shall deposit security in the sum so determined by the secretary."*fn4

The sole question presented on appeal is whether "shall" in § 1404(b) is directory or mandatory regarding the sixty day suspension period.

Laws should be interpreted to be consistent with the policies they were enacted to promote. Prichard v. Willistown Township School District, 394 Pa. 489, 147 A.2d 380 (1959); Allegheny County v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, 192 Pa. Superior Ct. 100, 159 A.2d 227 (1960). The Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Provisions of The Pennsylvania Vehicle Code were designed to protect highway users from unrecompensed damages by requiring uninsured operators and owners to post a bond sufficient to satisfy any resulting judgment, or face suspension of their operator's license or registration. The sixty day provision was included with the aim of insuring expeditious treatment and fundamental fairness to the parties. It was not intended that the administrative machinery would be rendered inoperative and the legislative policy frustrated because strict compliance as to time was lacking.

[ 209 Pa. Super. Page 389]

The only decision brought to our attention which has interpreted § 1404(b) is Commonwealth v. Isaac Holmes, Jr., 279 August Term, 1965 (York County), wherein the court concluded that notice of suspension given four months after the accident was valid. In so concluding, President Judge Atkins stated: "It would certainly be an unusual requirement that would result in the forfeiture of the Secretary's right to suspend if by ...


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