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COMMONWEALTH v. WOODS (10/10/72)

decided: October 10, 1972.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
WOODS



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William J. Woods, No. 73 December Term 1967.

COUNSEL

Daniel J. Snyder, with him William Soisson and Costello, Snyder, Berk & Horner, for appellant.

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 appellee.

Judges Kramer, Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 6 Pa. Commw. Page 360]

On May 31, 1967, on U.S. Route 30, one and one-half miles east of Greensburg, Hempfield Township, Westmoreland County, William J. Woods (appellant) was apprehended by a State Trooper for operating his automobile at a rate of 78 m.p.h. in a 50 m.p.h. speed zone established by the Secretary of Transportation (the Secretary) under Section 1002(b)(8) of The Vehicle Code (the Code), Act of April 29, 1959, P.L. 58, as amended, 75 P.S. § 1002(b)(8). Appellant paid a fine and costs when taken to a local magistrate. Having received a report of this conviction, the Secretary conducted a departmental hearing on October 17, 1967, at which appellant appeared and testified. Subsequently a license suspension notice was sent to appellant informing him that under Section 618(b)(2), 75 P.S. § 618(b)(2), his license was suspended for three months, effective December 8, 1967, for speeding in violation of Section 1002(b)(8). This suspension was appealed to the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County (the county in which appellant resides), and a hearing was set for February 1, 1968. On February 9, 1971, after granting a supersedeas on December 7, 1967 (appellant's

[ 6 Pa. Commw. Page 361]

    license was restored December 12, 1967), a judge of the Fayette County court ordered the suspension reduced to a period of thirty days from the date of the order. On March 1, 1971, for unspecified reasons, this same judge vacated his February 9, 1971, order and listed the case for argument before the court en banc. Argument was held, and on April 5, 1972, the court dismissed the appeal and reinstated the Secretary's order of suspension. This appeal followed.

Appellant first argues that, since he was licensed as an operator of motor vehicles under Section 601 of the Code, he therefore comes within the exception set forth in Section 618(b)(2) and any suspension must be imposed as provided in Section 619.1.

The exception in Section 618(b)(2) was added by the Act of January 24, 1966, P.L. (1965) 1497, which, by its § 2, added the Points System (Section 619.1) to the Code. Had the Legislature intended that all those licensed under Section 601 (which includes everyone except those few stipulated in Section 602) be suspended only under the Points System, an exception to Section 618(b)(2) would have been unnecessary and meaningless. In fact, Section 619.1(a) specifically states, "In addition to the powers and duties of revocation and suspension conferred upon the secretary under sections 616, 617, 618 and 619 of this act . . . ." Were we to accept appellant's position, dozens of other Code violations not enumerated in Section 619.1 would go unenforced. It is plain that the exception in Section 618(b)(2) concerns "those violations. . . as enumerated in section 619.1" (emphasis added). The modifying phrase "committed by persons licensed under the provisions of section 601 of this act" is incidental. Therefore, appellant does not fall within the exception to Section 618(b)(2) simply because he was licensed to drive under Section 601; to gain the exception he must have committed a violation which is enumerated, by

[ 6 Pa. Commw. Page 362]

Code section, in Section 619.1. As we stated in Department of Transportation v. Jakiel, 4 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 80, 83, 286 A.2d 28, 29 (1972), ". . . Section 1002(b)(8), because of purposeful legislative omission, is not mentioned (as it would have to be) in Section 619.1(b), so the latter section does not apply, and the more general Section 618(b)(2) is then applicable after a departmental hearing concerning the matter. See Moffa Motor Vehicle Operator License Case, 214 Pa. Superior Ct. 278, 257 A.2d 615 (1969), and Kerr Motor Vehicle Operator License Case, 213 Pa. Superior Ct. 406, 249 A.2d 787 (1968)."

Appellant next contends that he has been denied equal protection of the laws in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States because he received a suspension of ninety days under Section 618(b)(2) whereas he would have been assessed six points and suspended only ...


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