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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JAMES S. JAFFE (04/01/82)

decided: April 1, 1982.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, APPELLANT
v.
JAMES S. JAFFE, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in case of James S. Jaffe v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, No. 571 April Term, 1979.

COUNSEL

Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Counsel, with him Ward T. Williams, Chief Counsel of Transportation, and Jay C. Waldman, General Counsel, for appellant.

No appearance for appellee.

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

Author: Mencer

[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 595]

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County which sustained an appeal of James S. Jaffe (Jaffe) from the suspension of his motor vehicle operating privilege. We reverse.

This is a point-system case with a simple issue. The issue here is whether or not the Department assigned points to the point record of Jaffe within six months of the date of conviction for a stop-sign offense for which he was cited on July 30, 1977, as required by Section 1535(c) of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. ยง 1535(c).

The lower court concluded that Section 1535(c) of the Vehicle Code had not been complied with and, for this reason only, sustained Jaffe's appeal and set aside the suspension order of March 6, 1979.*fn1 Section 1535(c) provides that "[t]he department shall

[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 596]

    assign points to the record of any person within six months from the date of a conviction. Any points assigned after such six-month period shall be null and void."

The offense central to the instant case occurred on July 30, 1977, when Jaffe was cited for a stop-sign violation. The date of conviction is agreed upon by the Department and the lower court as August 9, 1978, when Jaffe paid the fine and his guilt relative to the offense was determined. The crucial question becomes: When were the consequential three points assigned to Jaffe's record? The lower court concluded that it was on February 14, 1979 and not within six months of the August 9, 1978 conviction date. The Department contends the assignment of the three points was made on January 2, 1979 and well within the six-month period provided for by Section 1535(c).

The lower court's conclusion was based on the following reasoning. On February 14, 1979, Jaffe appeared before a Department of Transportation hearing examiner, and it was at the completion of that hearing that the assignment of the three points in question was made to Jaffe's record. Upon examination of Jaffe's Point Violations Certification Statement, we can readily understand the lower court's basis for deciding that three points were assigned on February 14, 1979, since that statement contains an entry as follows: "Hearing 2-14-79 3 points".

However, the hearing referred to was a departmental hearing required by Section 1538(b) of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. ...


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