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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. GUY EARL HENNEMUTH (01/14/82)

filed: January 14, 1982.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
GUY EARL HENNEMUTH



No. 931 Pittsburgh, 1980, Appeal from the Verdict entered on September 15, 1980, in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Civil Division at No. SA 767 of 1980.

COUNSEL

Howard T. Gilfillan, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Stella L. Smetanka, Assistant District Attorney, Pittsburgh, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Brosky, DiSalle and Shertz, JJ. DiSalle, J., concurs in the result. Decision was rendered prior to DiSalle and Shertz, JJ., leaving the bench of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.

Author: Shertz

[ 294 Pa. Super. Page 362]

Appellant, Guy Earl Hennemuth, upon summary conviction under the Motor Vehicle Code for operating a vehicle with excessive axle weight, was sentenced to pay $910 by a district justice.*fn1 Following a hearing de novo before the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Appellant was again found guilty. In this appeal from the judgment of sentence,*fn2 he asserts three grounds for reversal: (1) the trial

[ 294 Pa. Super. Page 363]

    court erred in holding him strictly liable for violation of the Code; (2) the Commonwealth failed to sustain its burden of proof; and (3) the police lacked reasonable belief, or probable cause to believe, a violation of the Motor Vehicle Code had occurred. We find no merit in any of these assertions and we therefore affirm the trial court's judgment of sentence.

The facts of this case may be briefly summarized. Appellant was driving a truck loaded with coal when he was stopped by a state police officer working a weight detail. The officer testified at trial that the tires of the vehicle "were squashed down to the highway," N.T. at 4, and that the coal was "heaped up in the bed of the truck." Id. at 7. Appellant thereupon produced a weigh-master's certificate, obtained at the coal company, which showed the vehicle's gross weight to be 73,720 pounds.*fn3 Using a portable scale, one of the weight enforcement agents of the Department of Transportation weighed the center rear axle of the truck and found it to be 5,950 pounds over the 18,000 pound permissible maximum axle weight.*fn4

Appellant first argues that where, as here, in order to assure compliance with maximum statutory weights, one has made a substantial effort to comply with the Code by weighing the vehicle on a stationary platform scale, which had been inspected and certified only three days earlier, such conduct constitutes a defense to prosecution for exceeding those statutory maximums. That is, one cannot be held strictly liable for violating the weight regulation. We disagree.

The legislature, by virtue of its police power, may define a crime so that proof of criminal intent is not necessary. Commonwealth v. Koczwara, 397 Pa. 575, 155 A.2d

[ 294 Pa. Super. Page 364825]

(1959). The reason for such an abrogation of criminal intent has been explicated as ...


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