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CRISWELL MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATOR LICENSE CASE (06/22/71)

decided: June 22, 1971.

CRISWELL MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATOR LICENSE CASE


Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of York County, Oct. T., 1969, No. 17, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Revenue, Bureau of Highway Safety v. Charles J. Criswell.

COUNSEL

Elmer T. Bolla, Deputy Attorney General, with him Anthony J. Maiorana, Assistant Attorney General, and J. Shane Creamer, Attorney General, for Commonwealth, appellant.

No oral argument was made nor brief submitted for appellee.

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

Author: Jacobs

[ 219 Pa. Super. Page 171]

This case involves a Commonwealth appeal from the order of the court below reversing an order of suspension of appellee's license by the Secretary of Revenue.

Appellee was convicted of reckless driving on April 30, 1968. The offense occurred on March 21, 1968, at a time when appellee was under 18 years of age and possessed a junior operator's license. On August 11, 1969, following a departmental hearing, appellee's license was suspended for a six-month period, effective August 26, 1969, pursuant to § 604.1(a) and (d) of The Vehicle Code of April 29, 1959, P. L. 58, as amended, 75 P.S. § 604.1(a) and (d). On the effective date of this suspension, appellee was 18 years of age and possessed a regular operator's license which had been issued to him on May 31, 1968.*fn1

The lower court, in setting aside this suspension, held, as a matter of law, that the action of the secretary (1) in delaying the suspension action*fn2 and (2) suspending the license after the operator turned 18 was arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion. We reverse.

Section 604.1(a) of The Vehicle Code provides for the issuance of a junior operator's license for persons between the ages of 16 and 18. It further provides that "[i]n addition to the other provisions of this act [The Vehicle Code] relating to the suspension or revocation

[ 219 Pa. Super. Page 172]

    of operating privileges, in the event that a licensed junior operator . . . is convicted of any violation of 'The Vehicle Code' . . . the secretary may, after a hearing, suspend the operating privileges of such junior operator until he has reached the age of eighteen (18) years, or for any other period of time." (Emphasis added.) This section also provides that a junior license automatically becomes a regular license when the person holding such license attains 18 years of age.

For violations committed while a person possesses a regular operator's license the secretary no longer has the power of suspension for certain violations of The Vehicle Code. Rather, § 619.1, 75 P.S. § 619.1, sets forth a point system whereby points are assigned for these violations.*fn3

Appellee contends in effect that, because he was 18 years of age and possessed a regular operator's license when the suspension was imposed, the secretary could only assign points under § 619.1 and not order a suspension under § 604.1. However, in Angelicchio Motor Vehicle Operator License Case, 213 Pa. Superior Ct. 409, 249 A.2d 788 (1968), we held to the contrary There President Judge Wright, dealing with a situation where a 17-year-old with a junior operator's license was convicted of speeding and had his license suspended after he turned 18 and possessed a regular operator's license, stated: "Although Angelicchio's offense occurred after the effective date (July 24, 1966) of the amendment to The Vehicle Code establishing the point system, the action of the Secretary of Revenue in ordering a ...


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