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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ROBERT HICKS (10/19/83)

decided: October 19, 1983.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT
v.
ROBERT HICKS



No. 1 W.D. Appeal Docket, 1983, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Criminal Division, at No. CC8203243A, dated November 30, 1982, granting Appellee's Motion to Quash the Information.

COUNSEL

Robert E. Colville, Dist. Atty., Robert L. Eberhardt, Deputy Dist. Atty., Pittsburgh, Leroy S. Zimmerman, Atty. Gen., Marion E. MacIntyre, Andrew S. Gordon, Harrisburg, for appellant.

Peter B. Skeel, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Roberts, C.j., and Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson and Zappala, JJ.

Author: Roberts

[ 502 Pa. Page 346]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This is a direct appeal by the Commonwealth from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which granted a pre-trial motion to quash an information charging appellee Robert Hicks with homicide by vehicle, 75 Pa.C.S. § 3732. The court of common pleas held that the homicide by vehicle statute is unconstitutional on the ground that it violates the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States and the prohibition against special legislation contained in article III, section 32 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We reverse the order of the court of common pleas and remand for trial.*fn1

The information filed against appellee alleges that on April 3, 1982, appellee, while intoxicated, entered Interstate Route 79 by driving his automobile the wrong way down an exit ramp, and that while travelling north in the southbound lanes of Interstate 79, appellee's vehicle struck an oncoming vehicle, killing one of its occupants. Appellee was charged with homicide by vehicle as well as driving under the influence of alcohol, 75 Pa.C.S. § 3731, driving in the wrong direction on a divided highway, 75 Pa.C.S. § 3311(a), reckless driving, 75 Pa.C.S. § 3714, and driving while his operating privilege was suspended, 75 Pa.C.S. § 1543(a).*fn2

At the time of the alleged offense, 75 Pa.C.S. § 3732 provided:

"Any person who unintentionally causes the death of another person while engaged in the violation of any law of this Commonwealth or municipal ordinance applying to

[ 502 Pa. Page 347]

    the operation or use of a vehicle or to the regulation of traffic is guilty of homicide by vehicle, a misdemeanor of the first degree, when the violation is the cause of death."*fn3

In Commonwealth v. Field, 490 Pa. 319, 417 A.2d 160 (1980), this Court held that under section 3732 the Commonwealth must show that the defendant "knew or should have known" that he engaged in the conduct claimed to be in violation of the Vehicle Code, and that, at the very least, death was a "probable consequence" of that conduct. Commonwealth v. Field, 490 ...


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