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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. F. DAVID SEARER (04/11/80)

decided: April 11, 1980.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BUREAU OF TRAFFIC SAFETY, APPELLANT
v.
F. DAVID SEARER, JR., APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Mifflin County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation v. F. David Searer, Jr., No. 1865 of 1977.

COUNSEL

Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Attorney General, with him Robert W. Cunliffe, Deputy Attorney General and Edward G. Biester, Jr., Attorney General, for appellant.

John N. Miller of Thatcher and Miller, for appellee.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer. President Judge Bowman did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Mencer

[ 50 Pa. Commw. Page 469]

This is an appeal by the Commonwealth from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Mifflin County reversing the order of the Director of the Bureau of Traffic Safety (Bureau) which suspended, for a 3-month period, the certificate of appointment as an official public inspection station issued to F. David Searer, Jr., trading and doing business as Searer's Garage (Searer). We reverse.

On July 18, 1977, Gerald L. Wilson brought a 1965 Chevrolet to the Searer Garage. This vehicle was not, on that date, registered with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and did not have thereon a valid inspection sticker. Wilson requested that John M. Walker inspect the 1965 Chevrolet. Walker was a certified inspection mechanic employed by Searer. Wilson left the car at the garage but was contacted later that day and informed that the car could not be inspected without a current registration but that Walker had checked the vehicle. Wilson returned to Searer's Garage and removed the car from the premises.

On July 19, 1977, Wilson returned to the garage and told Walker that he had sold the car but that he was afraid to drive the car to the garage without an

[ 50 Pa. Commw. Page 470]

    inspection sticker. Wilson asked Walker if Walker would give him an inspection sticker. Walker wrote out a sticker and handed it to Wilson who took it to his home and placed it on the 1965 Chevrolet vehicle.

Searer was cited for a violation of the Vehicle Code (Code), 75 Pa. C.S. ยง 4730(b).*fn1 At the de novo hearing before the Court of Common Pleas following Searer's appeal from the Bureau's suspension of his certificate of appointment, Trooper Vandzura of the Pennsylvania State Police identified the official inspection record reflecting that the 1965 Chevrolet had been inspected at the Searer Garage on July 19, 1977 and produced the sticker which Wilson had placed on the vehicle in question. Trooper Vandzura testified to the conversation that he had with Walker during which Walker admitted that he handed the inspection sticker to Wilson. Later in the hearing Walker testified that he had given the sticker to Wilson.

On two occasions during the hearing, the attorney for Searer acknowledged that Walker had committed a violation of the Code. At one point the attorney stated: "We're saying we did it. We're saying we did it, there was a violation here." Later in the hearing, Searer's attorney stated: "So that there's no question what the Commonwealth says was done was done. The question is how it affects Mr. Searer, in whether he knew. . . ."

Yet the trial court concluded the following: "We do not believe that the Commonwealth proved that Walker ...


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