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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. LORA A. MATTHEWS (05/01/81)

filed: May 1, 1981.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
LORA A. MATTHEWS, APPELLANT



No. 608 April Term, 1979, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, Pennsylvania, Criminal Division, Entered on June 7, 1979 at No. C.A. 156 of 1979.

COUNSEL

Daniel P. McDyer, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Robert F. Hawk, Assistant District Attorney, Butler, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Price, Brosky and Montgomery, JJ.

Author: Montgomery

[ 286 Pa. Super. Page 475]

Appellant, at the time eight months pregnant, was driving her husband and two small children home after visiting relatives on January 9, 1979. The road conditions

[ 286 Pa. Super. Page 476]

    were icy and snow-packed, with a layer of freshly-fallen snow covering the road. At approximately 3 a. m., appellant's vehicle and a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction side-swiped each other. Appellant's vehicle continued to travel an estimated six-tenths of a mile before skidding into a snow embankment.

All of the occupants in appellant's vehicle were transported to a local hospital prior to the arrival of the state police at the scene of the accident. The investigating trooper discovered appellant's driver's license and vehicle registration left behind in her disabled vehicle. Meanwhile, appellant's brother-in-law was directed to the scene of the accident by appellant and her husband to assist the police. Finally, later that night, appellant's husband travelled to the state police headquarters, was questioned by the trooper, and retrieved his wife's purse.

On February 1, 1979, appellant received a summons in the mail charging her with a violation of 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3743 for failing to stop at the scene of an accident involving damage to an attended vehicle.*fn1 Appellant was found guilty of said offense on April 30, 1979 after a non-jury trial heard de novo before the Honorable John C. Dillon as an appeal thereto from a conviction by the issuing authority in a summary proceeding. Timely post verdict motions were filed and denied. On June 7, 1979, appellant was fined $300. This appeal followed.

[ 286 Pa. Super. Page 477]

Appellant contends, and we agree, that the statute of limitations had run in this case before appellant was served with the summons.*fn2 The offense with which appellant was charged constituted a summary offense. 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3743(b). The time within which prosecution for a summary offense must commence is found in 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5553. Specifically, §§ 5553(b) and (c) state:

(b) Minor offenses. Except as provided in subsection (c), proceedings for summary offenses under the following provisions of Title 75 shall be instituted within 15 days after the commission of the alleged offense or within 15 days after the discovery of the commission of the offense ...


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