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LAURANCE D. CHAPPELL v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (06/05/81)

decided: June 5, 1981.

LAURANCE D. CHAPPELL, APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Laurance D. Chappell, No. SA 751 of 1978.

COUNSEL

Thomas H. Welsh, Metz, Cook, Hanna & Kelly, for appellant.

John J. Kelley, Jr., Assistant Counsel, with him Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Counsel, Ward T. Williams, Chief Counsel, Transportation, and Jay C. Waldman, General Counsel, for appellee.

President Judge Crumlish and Judges Rogers and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 59 Pa. Commw. Page 505]

As the result of an incident which occurred on July 10, 1977, the appellant, Laurance D. Chappell, was charged with violating Section 1547 (refusing to submit to chemical test of breath) and Section 3731(a)(1) (driving under the influence of alcohol) of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. ยงยง 1547 and 3731. As a result of the Section 1547 violation, the appellant was, by a notice dated October 18, 1977, informed by the Secretary of Transportation that his license was suspended for six months effective October 28, 1977.

The appellant mailed his license to the Department on October 28, 1977, and on the same day pleaded guilty in the Criminal Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County to the charge of drunk driving. For this offense the appellant was sentenced to fifteen months' probation on December 7, 1977. On January 12, 1978, the record of the conviction was certified

[ 59 Pa. Commw. Page 506]

    to the Department by the clerk of courts. The Department received the certification on February 16, 1978.

The appellant's license was returned to him by the Department on April 28, 1978, just six months from the effective date of the suspension for violating Section 1547 for refusing to take the breathalyzer test.

On June 12, 1978, the Department of Transportation notified the appellant that his license was to be suspended for six months for his violation of Section 3731(a)(1).*fn1 The appellant appealed the second suspension to the court below where after hearing it was dismissed. This appeal followed.

The appellant argues that the second suspension should be held to be ineffective because the clerk of courts failed to comply with the Section 6323 of the Vehicle Code which provides that "[t]he clerk of any court . . . within ten days after final judgment of conviction . . . shall send to the department a record of the judgment of conviction." There is nothing in this record, the Vehicle Code, or reason which supports the appellant's contention that the Department's power, indeed duty, to suspend his license for drunken driving should be cancelled out by reason of a clerk of court's inattention to duty. Indeed Section 6324 of the Code imposing fines upon, and the removal from office of, delinquent clerks of courts is the Legislature's ...


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