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TREADWELL v. COMMONWEALTH (09/20/71)

decided: September 20, 1971.

TREADWELL
v.
COMMONWEALTH



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, Civil Action -- Law Misc. No. 13215 in case of Thomas B. Treadwell v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety.

COUNSEL

Lawrence E. Wood, for appellant.

Anthony J. Maiorana, Assistant Attorney General, with him Ralph B. Pinsky, Assistant Attorney General, Robert W. Cunliffe, Deputy Attorney General, and J. Shane Creamer, Attorney General, for appellee.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Manderino and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Manderino.

Author: Manderino

[ 3 Pa. Commw. Page 222]

The motor vehicle operating privileges of Thomas B. Treadwell (appellant) were suspended for four months by the Secretary of Highways (Secretary) following Treadwell's conviction for operating his automobile at the rate of ninety miles per hour in a fifty mile per hour speed zone. The allowable speed in this zone was a specially set reduced speed by the Secretary who, under statutory authority, lowered the allowable speed from fifty-five miles per hour. The higher speed was established by the Legislature for this type of zone throughout the Commonwealth. Treadwell's suspension

[ 3 Pa. Commw. Page 223]

    was affirmed by the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County from which order this appeal has been taken pursuant to Section 402(3) of the Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act of 1970. (Act No. 223 of July 31, 1970, P.L. , 17 P.S. 211.101 et seq.).

Treadwell challenges the validity of the legislation under which the Secretary imposed the suspension contending that the statute is unconstitutionally vague and that it also denies Treadwell the equal protection of the laws.

The section of the law which Treadwell contends is unconstitutional because of vagueness is Section 1002(b)(8) of The Vehicle Code. (Act of April 29, 1959, P.L. 58, as amended, 75 P.S. 1002(b)(8). That section provides:

"The Secretary of Highways*fn* may, after due investigation, establish any speed limit on State highways where traffic conditions or other conditions of the highway make it safe to operate motor vehicles at speeds other than as provided by this act.

"Any such established speed limit shall be indicated by the erection of the official signs, spaced not less than one-eighth (1/8) of a mile apart, on the right-hand side of the highway facing the traffic to be controlled, and at the end of the speed zone there shall be an official sign indicating the end of such speed zone. . . ."

Treadwell contends that the above provision is unconstitutional because it is vague in requiring that signs be posted not less than one-eighth (1/8) of a mile apart. This, he contends, affords the Secretary "untrammeled discretion" to post signs at any interval greater than one-eighth of a mile apart. Although the attack on the statute is described as one involving ...


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