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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. VIVIAN S. COGAN (03/06/85)

submitted: March 6, 1985.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
VIVIAN S. COGAN, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of August 29, 1983 in the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, Criminal Division, at No. 1563 C 1980.

COUNSEL

Kenneth B. Burkley, Greensburg, for appellant.

Gene E. McDonald, Latrobe, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Olszewski, Hester and Shiomos, JJ.*fn*

Author: Hester

[ 342 Pa. Super. Page 388]

This appeal presents the interesting question of whether a local municipality has the power to regulate speed limits on a state highway within its boundaries when the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (hereinafter "Department") has failed to do so.

The facts which gave rise to the above issue are as follows. On May 1, 1980, appellant was traveling along Route 480 within the municipal limits of Latrobe Borough, when she was stopped and cited for traveling 42 m.p.h. in a posted speed limit zone of 25 m.p.h.*fn1 Appellant was adjudged guilty following a hearing before the Honorable Joseph Hudock of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County on October 28, 1980. A timely appeal was taken to this Court. By Opinion Per Curiam dated August 2, 1982, the Superior Court remanded this matter for the filing of post-verdict motions nunc pro tunc, 303 Pa. Superior Ct. 153, 449 A.2d 624. Said motions were argued and denied on January 24, 1983. Appellant was sentenced to pay a fine of $59.00 plus costs, and thereafter pursued the instant appeal.

Appellant does not contest the accuracy of the device which determined her speed nor the validity of the citation issued, nor the fact that a speed limit of 25 m.p.h. was posted. Rather, she contends that the evidence adduced at trial was insufficient to support the verdict. Appellant

[ 342 Pa. Super. Page 389]

    further argues that the Department's established speed limit of 40 m.p.h. must prevail over the lower maximum speed limit established by the local authority. Having closely considered appellant's arguments, we affirm the decision of the trial court.

Appellant's initial contention is not supported by the record. She specifically asserts that the Commonwealth failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the 40 m.p.h. speed limit signs were never posted. The lower court considered the testimony of three witnesses and a Penn Dot District Engineer in concluding that the roadway had never been posted by the Commonwealth at 40 m.p.h. Moreover, counsel stipulated for the record that there was no 40 m.p.h. posting along the highway in question.

Our scope of review in cases where the lower court has heard a matter de novo is to determine whether or not the findings of fact are supported by competent evidence and to correct erroneous conclusions of law. Commonwealth v. Gussey, 319 Pa. Super. 398, 402, 466 A.2d 219, 221 (1983). An application of this standard leads us to conclude that the lower court was correct in its ruling on this issue.

Appellant next avers that the speed limit established by the Department, although unposted, must prevail over a differing speed limit posted by a local authority on the highway in question. Thus, she contends the local ordinance ...


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