Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County in the case of In Re: Appeal of Louis Greg Miscovich, No. 6821 of 1979.
Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Counsel, with him Ward T. Williams, Chief Counsel, and Jay C. Waldman, General Counsel, for appellant.
Michael J. Stewart, for appellee.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Blatt and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Doyle.
[ 72 Pa. Commw. Page 416]
The Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court, by order, sustained Miscovich's appeal from the suspension of his driving privileges. The Department of Transportation (Department) appeals. We affirm.
Miscovich, before a District Justice, pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol, a misdemeanor of the third degree.*fn1 The District Justice certified the conviction to the Department which, in turn, suspended Miscovich's license. The trial court found the certification to be invalid, holding that "[s]section
[ 72 Pa. Commw. Page 4176323]
of Volume 75 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes requires that only the Clerk of Courts of the County can certify the conviction of a violation of the Vehicle Code." (Emphasis added.)
While we agree with the trial court's disposition of this case, we disagree with the rationale.
Section 1515 of the Judicial Code*fn2 vests a district justice with jurisdiction to accept a plea of guilty from a motorist charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. This jurisdiction is contingent upon several criteria,*fn3 one of which is the arresting authority sending a copy of the charge to the county clerk of courts within five days following the preliminary arraignment. Once jurisdiction is satisfied*fn4 and a plea of guilty is accepted, the district justice "shall certify the disposition to the county clerk of courts in writing."
Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 149 requires a district justice, who has been specifically empowered by statute to exercise jurisdiction over certain court cases*fn5 and who has accepted a plea of guilty, ...