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THOMAS LYNN BREWSTER v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (06/10/80)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: June 10, 1980.

THOMAS LYNN BREWSTER, APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, APPELLEE

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County in case of Thomas Lynn Brewster v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Ms. D. No. 78-170.

COUNSEL

John J. Morgan, for appellant.

Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Attorney General, with him Ward T. Williams, Chief Counsel and Edward G. Biester, Jr., Attorney General, for appellee.

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

Author: Wilkinson

[ 52 Pa. Commw. Page 113]

Appellant, Thomas Lynn Brewster, appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County dismissing his appeal from the suspension and subsequent revocation of his motor vehicle operator's license. We affirm.

On January 5, 1978, appellant pled guilty to three separate offenses enumerated in Section 1532 of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. § 1532.*fn1 Upon the receipt of certification of conviction, the Department of Transportation (department) issued a notice of six-month suspension on September 25, 1978 for appellant's violation of Section 3733. On October 2, 1978, the department notified appellant of an additional six-month suspension for his violation of Section 3731, to run consecutively to the previous suspension. The department issued a notice on October 3, 1978 with regard to the violation of Section 3743, informing appellant that as a result of his third conviction his driving privileges were being revoked for a period

[ 52 Pa. Commw. Page 114]

    of five years as required by Section 1542 of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. § 1542. The five-year revocation was to run consecutively to the two earlier six-month suspensions.

Appellant first questions the applicability of Section 1542 under circumstances such as this where three offenses occur during a single "incident".*fn2 Section 1542 reads in pertinent part:

(a) General rule. -- The department shall revoke the operating privileges of any person found to be a habitual offender pursuant to the provisions of this section. A 'habitual offender' shall be any person whose driving record, as maintained in the department, shows that such person has accumulated the requisite number of convictions for the separate and distinct offenses described and enumerated in subsection (b) committed after the effective date of this title and within any period of five years thereafter.

(b) Offenses enumerated. -- Three convictions arising from separate acts of any one or more of the following offenses committed either singularly or in combination by any person shall result in such person being designated as a habitual offender. . . .

The circumstances surrounding appellant's three convictions, it is urged, do not evidence "habitual" conduct in the common sense. Where, however, the

[ 52 Pa. Commw. Page 115]

    legislature has specifically defined a term, as in Section 1542 it has defined "habitual offender", this Court may not frustrate the clear legislative intent by interpreting such term according to its usual and customary meaning in disregard of the legislature's intended usage. Since the requisite offenses for purposes of Section 1542 may be "committed either singularly or in combination" we are constrained to agree with the department's application of Section 1542.

Appellant finally argues that no authority exists for the department's imposition of consecutive penalties. Section 1544 of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. § 1544 provides the answer to appellant's contention.*fn3 See also Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety v. Von Altimus, 49 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 245, 410 A.2d 1303 (1980).

Accordingly, we will enter the following

Order

[ 52 Pa. Commw. Page 283]

And Now, June 10, 1980, the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, Civil Action, at Ms. D. No. 78-170, Book 41, Page 283, dated December 28, 1978 is hereby affirmed.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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