Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Anthony James Vallozzi, No. 1061 October Term, 1972.
John L. Heaton, Assistant Attorney General, with him Anthony J. Maiorana, Assistant Attorney General, Robert W. Cunliffe, Deputy Attorney General, and Israel Packel, Attorney General, for appellant.
James R. Silvis, with him O'Connell, Silvis & Godlewski, for appellee.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.
[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 350]
This is an appeal by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Commonwealth) from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County sustaining the appeal of Anthony James Vallozzi (Vallozzi) from the suspension of his motor vehicle operator's license.
On November 22, 1972, Vallozzi was notified by the Secretary of Transportation (Secretary) that five points had been assigned to his record as a result of his conviction, on April 3, 1972, of violating Section 1028(a) of The Vehicle Code, Act of April 29, 1959, P.L. 58, as amended, 75 P.S. § 1028(a). Vallozzi was also informed that, since this addition brought his total point accumulation to thirteen (13) points, his operator's license was suspended for sixty (60) days as mandated by Section 619.1(i) and (k) of The Vehicle Code, 75 P.S. § 619.1(i), (k).
[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 351]
Vallozzi appealed this suspension to the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County. At the hearing before the Honorable David H. Weiss, Vallozzi objected to the admission into evidence of Commonwealth's Exhibit No. 4, a copy of the traffic complaint and summons issued to him for the violation of Section 1028(a). Vallozzi also objected to the admission of Commonwealth's Exhibit No. 8, a copy of a Commonwealth TS-506 form which contained a record of Vallozzi's convictions, including the above conviction for violation of Section 1028(a). Judge Weiss sustained Vallozzi's objections to both these exhibits, holding that the traffic complaint and summons was not a proper record of conviction under Section 1209(a) of The Vehicle Code, 75 P.S. § 1209(a).
Our duty in this type of case is to determine whether the findings of the court below are supported by competent evidence and to correct any erroneous conclusions of law. The action of the lower court will not be disturbed on appeal except for manifest abuse of discretion. Commonwealth v. McCartney, 2 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 540, 279 A.2d 77 (1971). We hold that the lower court's reliance on Section 1209(a) was an error of law which compels us to reverse.
The narrow issue in this case is whether or not a copy of a traffic complaint and summons is a proper record of conviction under The Vehicle Code and therefore admissible into evidence in an operator's license suspension case. We hold that it is.
Section 1209(a), under which Judge Weiss found the traffic complaint and summons inadmissible, reads in pertinent part as follows: "Abstracts required by this section shall be made upon forms prepared by the department, and shall include all necessary information as to the parties to the case . . . ." (Emphasis added.) Rule 140 of the ...