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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JACK E. LEWIS (10/24/83)

decided: October 24, 1983.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BUREAU OF TRAFFIC SAFETY, APPELLANT
v.
JACK E. LEWIS, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Jack E. Lewis, No. 11050 of 1980.

COUNSEL

Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Counsel, with him Ward T. Williams, Chief Counsel, and Jay C. Waldman, General Counsel, for appellant.

P. Louis DeRose, Scales, DeRose and Murray, for appellee.

Judges Rogers, Williams, Jr. and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Doyle.

Author: Rogers

[ 78 Pa. Commw. Page 30]

This is an appeal by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT) from a decision and order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County reversing the Department's suspension of Jack E. Lewis' (appellee) driver's license. We reverse.

The appellee was cited for speeding on March 5, 1980, and convicted of that offense on March 24. On July 21, 1980, as per Section 1535 of the Vehicle Code (Code), 75 Pa. C.S. § 1535, three points were assessed to the appellee for this violation. The addition of these three points brought the appellee's accumulated point total to seven, and, as this was the third time he had registered a point level of at least six, an administrative hearing was mandated under Section 1538(c) of the Code, 75 Pa. C.S. § 1538(c). Notice of this hearing was sent to the appellee on August 25, 1980, and the hearing itself was held on September 8, 1980. As a result of this hearing the appellee was notified by the DOT by notice dated October 14, 1980, that his driver's license was to be suspended for a period of thirty days. The appellee appealed this suspension to the court of common pleas which sustained the appeal

[ 78 Pa. Commw. Page 31]

    on June 18, 1981, holding that because the notice of suspension was not issued within six months of the date of conviction, the suspension failed to comply with the requirement of Section 1551 of the Code, 75 Pa. C.S. § 1551, that "notification that the license or permit is suspended shall be made within six months following the conviction of a violation . . . that resulted in the addition of sufficient points to cause the suspension."*fn1

On appeal to this Court, DOT maintains as it did below, that the six-month notice provision of Section 1551 applies only to mandatory suspensions for the accumulation of eleven or more points under Section 1539, and is inapplicable to discretionary suspensions imposed under Section 1538(c) of the Code. For the following reasons, we agree.

Admittedly, a literal reading of Section 1551 might lead to the conclusion reached by the court below. A suspension under Section 1538(c) of the Code, while imposed following a departmental hearing, is nonetheless imposed "as a result of the accumulation of points," in that a third accumulation of six or more points is the sine qua non of such a suspension. In interpreting the Code, however, we must presume that the General Assembly did not intend a result which is absurd or unreasonable. The Statutory Construction Act of 1972, 1 Pa. C.S. § 1911(1).

Section 1535(c), of the Code 75 Pa. C.S. § 1535(c), provides that "[t]he department shall assign points to the record of any person within six months from the date ...


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