Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JACK E. LEWIS (11/20/84)

decided: November 20, 1984.

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



No. 25 W.D. Appeal Docket, 1984, Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court at No. 1737 C.D. 1981 dated October 24, 1983 which reversed the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, Civil Division, dated June 18, 1981, at No. 11050 of 1980, Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson and Zappala, JJ. Papadakos, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Nix

[ 506 Pa. Page 98]

OPINION

Mr. Lewis, appellant, was cited for speeding on March 5, 1980 and was thereafter convicted of that offense on March 24, 1980. On July 21, 1980 three (3) points were assessed to appellant for this violation pursuant to section 1535(a) of the Vehicle Code ("Code"). See 75 Pa.C.S. § 1535(a).*fn1 This assessment caused appellant's accumulated point total to rise to seven (7) points. Thereafter a departmental hearing was held pursuant to section 1538(c) of the Code, after proper notice.*fn2 Following the hearing, appellant was notified by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation ("Department"), by notice dated October 14, 1980, that his driver's license was to be suspended for a period of thirty (30) days.

Appellant appealed the decision of suspension to the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County contending that the notice of suspension was not issued within six months of the date of conviction as required by section 1551 of the Code. See 75 Pa.C.S. § 1551. The Court of Common

[ 506 Pa. Page 99]

Pleas sustained Mr. Lewis' appeal and vacated the order of license suspension issued by the Department. The Commonwealth appealed from the order of the Court of Common Pleas to the Commonwealth Court. The Commonwealth Court determined that section 1551 was not applicable and reversed the order of the Court of Common Pleas and reinstated the order of suspension issued by the Department. We granted review and now reverse the order of the Commonwealth Court for the reasons that follow.

The issue presented in this appeal is a very narrow one. We are called upon to determine whether section 1551 is applicable to license suspensions under section 1538(c). It is not disputed that the notice of suspension was not issued within six months of the date of the conviction. If section 1551 applies the suspension in this case would have been improper. Initially it is to be noted that there is no express language contained in section 1551 which would establish its inapplicability to this situation. Thus we must examine the validity of those arguments urged by instant appellee and accepted by the Commonwealth Court*fn3 to support the view that section 1551 was not applicable to suspensions pursuant to section 1538(c).

Section 1551 provides:

The department shall promptly notify each person whose license or permit is suspended as a result of the accumulation of points. The notification that the license or permit is suspended shall be made within six months following the conviction of a violation of this title that resulted in the addition of sufficient points to cause the suspension. Failure of the department to give prompt notice of suspension as required by this section shall prohibit the department from suspending the license or permit of such person.

75 Pa.C.S. § 1551.

The first sentence of this section would suggest its applicability to all suspensions resulting from an accumulation

[ 506 Pa. Page 100]

    of points. Although section 1538(c) invests a degree of discretion in the Department, the sine qua non for suspension under that provision is the accumulation of points over a specified number during a specified period. The language of section 1551 does not in any way suggest that its applicability should be limited to instances where the imposition of suspension is mandatory. Moreover, section 1551 is stated in mandatory language, e.g., " shall prohibit the Department from suspending the license . . .", as opposed to precatory language. See, e.g., Francis v. Corleto, 418 Pa. 417, 211 A.2d 503 (1965); Amalgamated Transit Union, Division 85 v. Port ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.