Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of York County in case of Harold J. Smith v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, No. 83-S-1732.
Joseph R. Adamczyk, Jr., with him, Kenneth J. Sparler, Anstine & Anstine, for appellant.
Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Counsel, with him, Spencer A. Manthorpe, Chief Counsel, and Jay C. Waldman, General Counsel, for appellee.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge Colins, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Barbieri.
Harold J. Smith appeals here an order of the Court of Common Pleas of York County which affirmed the decision of the Department of Transportation (Department) which suspended for three months his certification as an official inspection station and as an official inspection station mechanic. We affirm.
Smith operates an automobile service station known as Smittie's ARCO. His station is certified by the Department as an official inspection station and he is certified as an official inspection station mechanic. On January 13, 1983, Trooper Leo Keim of the Pennsylvania State Police inspection detail was given a vehicle inspection certificate by officers of the York City Police. Trooper Keim ran a check on the certificate and found that it was issued by Smith on July 31, 1982 to a 1975 Chevrolet van owned by one Clair Bowman. Trooper Keim then checked Smith's inspection records, specifically the TS-431 worksheet, which indicated that the Chevrolet van had a valid registration at the time it was inspected. Bowman was not able to produce a valid registration card or title as required by Section 4727(a) of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. § 4727(a), at the time the van was inspected. He did, however, have in his possession an affidavit of lost or stolen registration, executed pursuant to 75 Pa. C.S. § 1313(c), which Smith accepted in lieu of registration card or title. A record check with the Department showed that the registration on the Chevrolet van had expired as of November
[ 94 Pa. Commw. Page 8530]
, 1981. Smith was cited by the Department for performing a faulty inspection on the 1975 Chevrolet van and the Department ordered that his certification as an official inspection station be suspended for three months under 75 Pa. C.S. § 4724(a) and suspended his certification as an official inspection mechanic for three months under 75 Pa. C.S. § 4726. He appealed the Department's suspension order to common pleas court which heard the matter de novo. The common pleas court upheld the Department's suspension order on August 19, 1983 and a timely appeal was taken to this Court.
In this appeal, Smith contends that the common pleas court erred as a matter of law when it held that an inspection station mechanic cannot accept a vehicle owner's affidavit of lost or stolen registration card to satisfy the requirements of 75 Pa. C.S. § 4727(a). Our scope of review where the common pleas court is the fact-finder, is limited to determining whether necessary findings of that court are based upon substantial evidence, an error of law committed, or whether any constitutional rights of the appellant were violated. Section 704 of the Administrative Agency Law, 2 Pa. C.S. § 704; Gula v. Department of Transportation, 69 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 481, 451 A.2d 807 (1982).
When Smith inspected the Chevrolet van on July 31, 1982, he was required by statute to examine the registration card, title or other approved document to show proof of registration or titling. 75 Pa. C.S. § 4727(a), which contains that requirement, reads as follows:
§ 4727. Issuance of certificate of inspection
(a) Requirements prior to inspection. -- No vehicle, except a vehicle held by a dealer or manufacturer for which titling is not required or a mass ...