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JOYCE LYNN MCKAY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (06/04/80)

decided: June 4, 1980.

JOYCE LYNN MCKAY, APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Joyce Lynn McKay, No. 169-P, Misc. Term, 1978.

COUNSEL

Lawrence H. Rudnick, for appellant.

Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Attorney General, with him Maurice Levin, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.

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

Author: Macphail

[ 52 Pa. Commw. Page 26]

Joyce Lynn McKay (Appellant) appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, which affirmed the action of the Secretary of Transportation (Secretary) in recalling the operating privileges of Appellant in accordance with Section 1519(c) of the Vehicle Code (Code), 75 Pa. C.S. § 1519(c).*fn1

On April 24, 1978, Appellant, a licensed motor vehicle operator in Pennsylvania, voluntarily appeared at the Haverford State Hospital for the purpose of obtaining psychiatric consultation. Appellant was interviewed and immediately admitted by a staff psychiatrist, Dr. Wycoff, who diagnosed her condition as one of "drug dependence, hallucinogens." A second staff psychiatrist, Dr. Grasberger, interviewed Appellant and confirmed Dr. Wycoff's diagnosis.

Upon Appellant's discharge from the hospital two days following her admission, Dr. Grasberger submitted both his and Dr. Wycoff's reports to the director of the hospital who in turn sent to the Department of Transportation (Department) a form entitled "Mental Case Report of Discharged Patient." This action was taken in accordance with Section 1518 of the Code, 75 Pa. C.S. § 1518. The director indicated on that form that he considered Appellant as competent to drive a motor vehicle "when not taking drugs." Upon receipt of that form, the Secretary notified Appellant

[ 52 Pa. Commw. Page 27]

    that her operating privileges were being recalled until she could submit sufficient proof of her competency to the Department. Appellant appealed the Secretary's action and a de novo hearing was held on September 14, 1978.

At the hearing, the Commonwealth offered the hospital director's report into evidence. The lower court admitted the report over Appellant's objections for the purpose of revealing the basis of the Secretary's recall action. The Commonwealth then called Dr. Grasberger as its only witness, to whose testimony Appellant vehemently and continually objected. The court, however, permitted Dr. Grasberger to testify and express his opinions regarding the diagnosis of Appellant's condition. Those opinions were based almost entirely on information given to him and Dr. Wycoff by the Appellant herself. It was Dr. Grasberger who made the determination that Appellant could drive when not taking drugs.

Dr. Grasberger testified that Appellant was psychologically dependent on hallucinogenic drugs, a condition which he classified as a personality disorder. The doctor further testified that if Appellant were under the influence of such drugs, "she might have hallucinations, visual, auditory, which would impair her ability to drive." Dr. Grasberger stated that there was "no way in the world" he could give an opinion as to whether Appellant would continue to take the drugs because he had no idea of what happened to her after her two day stay at the hospital.

Appellant testified at the hearing that she had taken no hallucinogens in the three month period prior to the hearing, that she was driving to work without incident, and that she was currently undergoing psychiatric treatment by another psychiatrist (who did not testify at ...


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