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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. MICHAEL JOSEPH LAMB (03/12/74)

decided: March 12, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BUREAU OF TRAFFIC SAFETY, APPELLANT,
v.
MICHAEL JOSEPH LAMB, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Michael Joseph Lamb, No. 90 Misc. Term, 1972.

COUNSEL

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.

Michael Joseph Lamb, appellee, for himself.

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

Author: Kramer

[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 509]

This is an appeal by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Commonwealth) from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County dated July 7, 1972, sustaining the appeal of Michael Joseph Lamb (Lamb) and thereby reversing the suspension of Lamb's motor vehicle operating privileges by the Secretary of Transportation.

On June 27, 1971, Lamb was arrested and charged with a violation of Section 1001(1) of The Vehicle Code, Act of April 29, 1959, P.L. 58, as amended, 75 P.S. § 1001, i.e., "reckless driving."

The record discloses that Lamb left for a trip to Europe during the first week of August 1971, and returned to his home on September 4, 1971. A "couple days after" Lamb returned home, he was advised by his mother that she had received by certified mail a summons issued in connection with The Vehicle Code violation. She told her son that she had paid the fine because she believed that nonpayment would have resulted in a suspension of his motor vehicle operator's license. The record further discloses that on October 28, 1971, Lamb was convicted of the said violation by a member of the minor judiciary. Lamb took no appeal from this

[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 510]

    conviction. On April 19, 1972, Lamb received a notice from the Department of Transportation informing him that as a result of said conviction, five points were being assigned to his record, creating an accumulation of 11 points. In accordance with Section 619.1(i) and (k) of The Vehicle Code, 75 P.S. § 619.1(i)(k), the Secretary of Transportation suspended Lamb's license for 60 days, effective May 19, 1972.

On May 19, 1972, Lamb appealed from this suspension to the court below, and a hearing was held on June 29, 1972. The court below made a finding that Lamb had no knowledge of the payment of the fine and costs by his mother, and that he had not authorized her to pay same on his behalf. The sole issue decided by the lower court was whether, under such facts, Lamb had been "convicted" and hence his license properly suspended. On the authority of Commonwealth v. Heckathorne, 18 Chest. 22 (1969), the lower court concluded that the record made did not indicate knowledge or authority on Lamb's behalf with regard to the payment of the fine and costs, and therefore, Lamb was not "convicted."

The only question presented to us by the Commonwealth is whether the court below committed an error of law in reversing the suspension based upon its holding that there was no conviction because Lamb's mother paid the fine and costs without Lamb's authority or knowledge. This Court has previously ruled on the same issue in Commonwealth v. James, 6 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 493, 296 A.2d 530 (1972). In James, the appellant was a truck driver who learned three days after returning from a long haul that his wife had paid the fine and costs in his absence, but, as in this case, he did nothing until he was served with a notice of suspension by the Secretary some months ...


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