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DEPARTMENT TRANSPORTATION v. BECHTEL (05/05/72)

decided: May 5, 1972.

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
v.
BECHTEL



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Oscar Paul Bechtel, Misc. Dkt. Vol. V, p. 317.

COUNSEL

Stuart A. Liner, Assistant Attorney General, with him Anthony J. Maiorana, Assistant Attorney General, Robert W. Cunliffe, Deputy Attorney General, and J. Shane Creamer, Attorney General, for appellant.

John McCrea, III, with him McCrea & McCrea, for appellee.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer and Wilkinson, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Kramer.

Author: Kramer

[ 5 Pa. Commw. Page 622]

We have before us an appeal filed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation (appellant), from an Opinion and Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County. On the afternoon of June 28, 1970, Oscar Paul Bechtel, appellee (Bechtel), while operating his automobile in the City of Chambersburg, was involved in an accident. The

[ 5 Pa. Commw. Page 623]

    record indicates that no other vehicles were involved in the accident. That same afternoon, Bechtel spoke by telephone with an officer of the Pennsylvania State Police and informed the officer that his car had been stolen. The officer informed Bechtel that the car had been found in Chambersburg in a wrecked condition. Bechtel was further informed as to the location of his automobile.*fn1 Shortly thereafter, Bechtel returned to the scene and inquired of them as to whether the driver had been found. Later that day, Bechtel was charged by the State Police with operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol (The Vehicle Code, Act of April 29, 1959, P.L. 58, 75 P.S. § 1037), and with falsification of information to a state agency (The Penal Code, Act of June 24, 1939, P.L. 872, as amended, 18 P.S. § 4328). At a hearing held before a justice of the peace on June 30, 1970, Bechtel pleaded guilty to the falsification charge, admitting that, in fact, he had been operating the automobile at the time of the accident and that no theft had occurred. The record before us does not indicate appellee's plea relating to the charge of operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

On August 24, 1970, in the Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County (Criminal Division) appellee pleaded guilty to the falsification charge. The charge relating to operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol was "nolle prossed."

The Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County, on August 25, 1970, certified Bechtel's conviction under the Penal Code, to the Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety. The Department of Transportation notified Bechtel by mailed notice,

[ 5 Pa. Commw. Page 624]

    on June 4, 1971, that his license was suspended for a period of one year for "certification from the Clerk of Court of Franklin County, Section 618(a)(2) of Act 32, Vehicle Code" and "falsification of information to a state agency, Section 328, Penal Code, 6/28/70." Bechtel was ordered therein to return his operator's license to the Bureau of Traffic Safety. Bechtel filed an appeal before the Court of Common Pleas on June 18, 1971; and on June 21, 1971, the court granted him a hearing de novo to determine whether he was subject to suspension of his operator's license. A hearing was held on July 29, 1971, before the court below. On January 7, 1972, the Opinion and Order of the court ...


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