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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. KATHLEEN FERRARA (05/30/85)

decided: May 30, 1985.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BUREAU OF TRAFFIC SAFETY, APPELLANT
v.
KATHLEEN FERRARA, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Kathleen Ferrara, No. SA 873 of 1981.

COUNSEL

Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Counsel, with him, Spencer A. Manthorpe, Chief Counsel, and Jay C. Waldman, General Counsel, for appellant.

S. Michael Streib, for appellee.

Judges Doyle and Palladino and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle. Judge Palladino dissents.

Author: Doyle

[ 89 Pa. Commw. Page 551]

The Bureau of Traffic Safety of the Department of Transportation (Appellant) seeks review of an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which sustained the license suspension appeal of Kathleen Ferrara (Appellee).

On June 3, 1981, Appellee was stopped by officers of the Ross Township Police Department after she was observed driving a vehicle without tail lights and failing to negotiate a turn well. The officers making the traffic stop testified that there was an odor of alcohol on her breath, and that upon being asked to leave her vehicle, she had difficulty maintaining her balance and walking. There is much dispute concerning exactly what happened after Appellee was taken to the police station, but as the trial court found in favor of Appellee, we must accept her version as true. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety v. Tillitt, 49 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 343, 345, 411 A.2d 276, 277 (1980).

Appellee testified, in relevant part:

A. . . . . We went into a room where the machine was. They had a table with a couple chairs there. They dumped my purse and they looked through everything, they threw everything back in the purse and said to me, "Do you want to take a blood test or a breathalizer test?" I said, "Can't I call somebody first to tell me what to do," because I had never been in any situation like that before.

Q. Have you ever been arrested?

A. I have never been stopped, nothing but a parking ticket.

Q. Were you ...


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