Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. D. Wayne Austin, No. 1270 C 1980.
Anthony J. Martin, Martin, Durkin & Martin, for appellant.
Patrick A. Merlino, Assistant District Attorney, with him Albert M. Nichols, District Attorney, for appellee.
President Judge Crumlish and Judges Blatt and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr. Judge Palladino did not participate in the decision in this case. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 436]
D. Wayne Austin appeals from a Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court order imposing fines for Pennsylvania Vehicle Code*fn1 (Code) violations. We affirm.
Austin was hauling a bulldozer on a tractor-trailer combination*fn2 in Westmoreland County. The loaded vehicle, weighing 143,450 pounds, exceeded the maximum legal weight limit.*fn3 Although Austin had secured and was carrying special hauling permits issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation*fn4 (PennDOT), he did not comply with certain general permit conditions*fn5 contained in the regulations promulgated under the Code. 67 Pa. Code 51.10(8)*fn6 provided that a special permit was automatically invalidated by the violation of any condition specified in the regulations.
[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 437]
Austin was cited for violating Code sections 4901*fn7 (a "non-weight" violation, i.e., not displaying the required placards and red flags, and operating without pilot cars), and 4941*fn8 (a "weight" violation, i.e., operating a combination whose weight exceeded the authorized maximum), notwithstanding that the vehicle's weight was within the 145,000-pound limitation allowed by the special permit. The district justice fined Austin $50.00 plus costs for the "non-weight" violation*fn9 and $20,400.00 plus costs for the "weight" violation.*fn10 The common pleas court affirmed, but reduced the "weight" violation fine to $20,250.00.
Austin claims that the provision, automatically invalidating a special permit for non-compliance with the regulatory conditions, is without PennDOT's statutory authority. Section 4961(a)(2) of the Code*fn11 authorizes PennDOT to allow, by special permit, the operation of a combination carrying a nondivisible load (e.g., a bulldozer) which exceeds the legal maximum weight. Section 4962(a)*fn12 authorizes PennDOT to prescribe conditions of operation under the permit as it " shall deem necessary to protect the safety of highway users, to promote the efficient movement of traffic or to protect the highways." Under this authority,
[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 438]
PennDOT duly promulgated the automatic invalidation regulation, hence it has the force of law. See Newport Homes, Inc. v. Department of Transportation, 17 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 317, 326, 332 A.2d 568, 574 (1975).
Austin also contends that, since he posted bond for the special permit,*fn13 any fine imposed for operating the combination in excess of the prescribed weight is duplicative. He argues that the posted security entitled him to drive ...