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WILLIAM H. HAAG v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (04/16/82)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: April 16, 1982.

WILLIAM H. HAAG, APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William H. Haag, No. 76-5365-10-6.

COUNSEL

Martin J. Cunningham, Jr., for appellant.

Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Attorney General, with him Ward T. Williams, Chief Counsel, Transportation, and Harvey Bartle, III, Acting Attorney General, for appellee.

Judges Rogers, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 66 Pa. Commw. Page 250]

William H. Haag appeals from an order of the Secretary of Transportation suspending his motor vehicle operating privileges for six months, pursuant to then applicable Section 624.1(a) of The Vehicle Code of 1959,*fn1 for refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test; the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County dismissed an appeal of that suspension and granted a supersedeas pending our decision upon appeal.

The record shows that on March 18, 1976, a township police officer arrested William Haag and charged him with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, after he failed a field sobriety test. At the local police station, when requested to take a breathalyzer test, he refused.

Thus, as required to sustain a license suspension under Section 624.1(a),*fn2 the Commonwealth has

[ 66 Pa. Commw. Page 251]

    proved that the driver was (1) placed under arrest, (2) charged with the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, (3) requested to submit to a breathalyzer test, and (4) that he refused to do so. Commonwealth v. Heresko, 28 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 508, 510, 368 A.2d 1357, 1359 (1977).

In light of such proof, appellant's interrogatories to the Director of the Bureau of Traffic Safety -- relating to his consideration of the suspension determination -- were irrelevant to the case. Judge Mims' refusal to enforce answers to such interrogatories was therefore quite proper.

The appellant further contends that the statute is unconstitutional in that it contains an open-ended penalty period. The six-month suspension for a "refusal to submit to a chemical test" is stated in the department's standard schedule of suspensions.*fn3

Since Commonwealth v. Funk, 323 Pa. 390, 186 A. 65 (1936), our courts have held that suspension of licenses is an administrative function constitutionally delegated by the legislature in allowing the Secretary to determine periods of suspension. Administrative adherence to a uniform suspension period for this offense, by following the regulation, has assured fairness.

Accordingly, we affirm the sound decision of Judge Mims.

[ 66 Pa. Commw. Page 252]

Order

Now, April 16, 1982, the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, No. 76-5365-10-6, dated October 19, 1978, dismissing appellant's appeal, is affirmed.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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