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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. WILLIAM L. SCHMIDT (03/05/81)

decided: March 5, 1981.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BUREAU OF TRAFFIC SAFETY, APPELLANT
v.
WILLIAM L. SCHMIDT, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William L. Schmidt, No. SA 192-79.

COUNSEL

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

Michael A. Donadee, for appellee.

Judges Mencer, Rogers and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 57 Pa. Commw. Page 319]

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety (Bureau) appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which sustained the appeal of William L. Schmidt from the suspension of his privilege of operating a motor vehicle. We reverse and reinstate the suspension.

The Bureau received a certification of conviction indicating that Schmidt had been found guilty of violating Section 3743(a) of the Vehicle Code (Code), 75 Pa. C.S. § 3743(a) (relating to accidents involving damage to attended vehicle or property). Pursuant to Section 1532(b) of the Code, 75 Pa. C.S. § 1532(b), Schmidt's operating privilege was suspended for 6 months.

[ 57 Pa. Commw. Page 320]

At the suspension hearing, Schmidt testified that he was not aware that, while attempting to pass, he had struck a mobile home attached to a tractor-trailer; rather, he thought that he had hit the median strip. Schmidt further testified that he did not appeal from his conviction because the police officer told him that he would not lose his license. The lower court sustained the appeal on the ground that the mobile home was not a vehicle. The lower court also ruled, sua sponte, that the Bureau had failed to introduce a certified record of the conviction. This appeal followed.

The Bureau first argues that the lower court exceeded its scope of review by looking behind the conviction and accepting a collateral attack on the conviction. We agree. In this administrative proceeding, the lower court's inquiry is limited to determining whether Schmidt " has, in fact, been convicted of a traffic violation and whether the Bureau has faithfully observed the provisions of [t]he Vehicle Code in suspending [Schmidt's] driving privileges. [The lower court] may not consider the question of whether [Schmidt] should have been convicted." Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety v. Grobes, 45 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 151, 153, 405 A.2d 588, 589 (1979) (emphasis in original).

Our discussion of the matter in Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety v. Lea, 34 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 310, 384 A.2d 269 (1978), is dispositive.

Appellee's attempt to attack his conviction on the ground that he was not advised of the possible revocation of his license must also fail. It is clear that our review, and by the same token, the review of the lower court, is limited to the order of revocation and not of the criminal conviction ...


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