Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Frank A. Cariola, individually and t/a Frank's Mobil Service Center, No. 1195 April Term, 1979.
John J. D'Angelo, Bank, Minehart & D'Angelo, for appellant.
Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Counsel, with him Ward T. Williams, Chief Counsel, and Jay C. Waldman, General Counsel, for appellee.
Judges Rogers, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig. This decision was reached prior to the resignation of Judge Mencer.
[ 66 Pa. Commw. Page 361]
This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County sustaining the order of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), which suspended the automobile inspection privileges of Frank A. Cariola for three months pursuant to Section 4724(a) of The Vehicle Code.*fn1
On January 5, 1979, two people were found in an automobile, dead of carbon monoxide poisoning. An investigation of the vehicle by the state police revealed
[ 66 Pa. Commw. Page 362]
numerous violations of PennDOT inspection regulations, including a tailpipe that ended two-and-a-half inches inside the body and fender lines of the vehicle that allowed exhaust fumes to enter the inside of the car, badly worn tires, a trailer hitch that was mounted to the floor rather than to the frame, and extensive rust holes. The inspection sticker affixed to the vehicle recorded an inspection by the appellant at his station on November 13, 1978.
Our scope of review where the trial court hears the matter de novo is limited to a determination of whether or not the court based its findings of fact on substantial evidence or committed an error of law. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety v. Kobaly, 22 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 46, 347 A.2d 759 (1975).
The common pleas decision relied on the testimony of a state police officer and a certified mechanic who had inspected the automobile on January 23, 1979. The officer determined that the speedometer had not worked since the time it had left the Cariola inspection station.*fn2 Furthermore, he concluded that the extensive rust could not have occurred within the forty-eight days between the time of the inspection and the date of the deaths. The mechanic observed numerous inspection violations and concluded that these violations could not have occurred after appellant's inspection. Based on the extensive testimony of the police officer and the mechanic, Judge Wilson of the common pleas court found:
[H]aving looked at the testimony as to the depth of the tread in the ...