Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the case of In re: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. One 1976 Chevrolet Sedan (Wilbur Sample), No. SA 181 of 1982.
Felix Thau, with him Gary F. DiVito, Assistant Counsel, and J. Leonard Langan, Chief Counsel, for appellant.
Bryan Campbell, for appellee.
Judges Blatt, Craig and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.
[ 75 Pa. Commw. Page 232]
This is an appeal by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (Board) from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which dismissed the Board's petition for forfeiture of a 1976 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Sedan and directed the return of the vehicle to the registered owner, Wilbur Sample.
On Sunday, March 22, 1981, a Board enforcement officer observed Wilbur Sample drive the automobile in question into the 600 block of Herron Avenue in Pittsburgh and park. The officer then approached Mr. Sample and purchased, for $3.25, a 200 milliliter bottle (approximately one-half pint) of Jaquin's Vodka. As Sample was not licensed to sell alcoholic beverages, he was arrested and the vehicle and its contents seized. Inventory of the vehicle disclosed a total of forty-seven 200 milliliter bottles and one 750 milliliter bottle (a "fifth") of liquor. The Board petitioned for forfeiture of the vehicle in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and the court issued the order appealed here.
[ 75 Pa. Commw. Page 233]
Section 601 of the Liquor Code*fn1 provides in pertinent part:
No property rights shall exist in any liquor, alcohol or malt or brewed beverage illegally manufactured or possessed, or in any still, equipment, material, utensil, vehicle, boat, vessel, animals or aircraft used in the illegal manufacture or illegal transportation of liquor, alcohol or malt or brewed beverages, and the same shall be deemed contraband and proceedings for its forfeiture to the Commonwealth may, at the discretion of the board, be instituted in the manner hereinafter provided.
Whether a petition for forfeiture should be granted is a matter of discretion with the court of common pleas. Section 602 of the Liquor Code, 47 P.S. § 6-602; Commonwealth v. One 1973 Chevrolet Pickup/Camper Truck (McClairen), 20 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 300, 342 A.2d 153 (1975). We will reverse the court of common pleas only if we find an abuse of discretion. Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board v. One 1972 Ford Pickup Truck, 49 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 600, 411 ...