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WILLIAM KUZNESKI v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (07/11/86)

decided: July 11, 1986.

WILLIAM KUZNESKI, APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Indiana County, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William Kuzneski, No. 1197 C.D. 1984.

COUNSEL

James R. Glover, Glover & Petersen, P.A., with him, Robert W. Lambert, 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., Judges Rogers and Barry, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry.

Author: Barry

[ 98 Pa. Commw. Page 596]

William Kuzneski (appellant) appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Indiana County which affirmed a one-year suspension of his driver's license for failure to submit to a breathalyzer test. Section 1547(b)(1) of the Vehicle Code, as amended, 75 Pa. C.S. § 1547(b)(1).

Appellant seeks reversal of the trial court's decision on the basis that the police officer who stopped him was outside his territorial jurisdiction; he had no reasonable grounds to suspect that he had been driving while intoxicated; and he did not properly warn him of the consequences of his refusal to submit to the test. We find all of these contentions without merit.

Appellant first argues that he was not required to submit to the breathalyzer test because the officer who made the request was outside his territorial jurisdiction and he was not, therefore, a police officer as defined under the Vehicle Code. This Court addressed that same question in Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety v. Evans, 20 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 403, 342 A.2d 443 (1975). In that case the arrest and the request to take the breathalyzer test also took place outside of the police officer's jurisdiction. In Evans, as in the case at hand, the appellant stressed

[ 98 Pa. Commw. Page 597]

    that the issue was not whether the arrest was legal,*fn1 but whether the person requesting the test was a police officer. In response to that argument we specifically held that since the officer was acting under the full color of authority, he was in fact a police officer. A determination of the officer's legal status is not necessary in a license suspension case.

In his reply brief appellant argues that Evans is not controlling in this instance because the Vehicle code has since been amended and it now includes a new definition of police officer. Under the statute which controlled Evans, a police officer was defined as one of a group of peace officers vested with authority of arrest. Section 102 of the Vehicle Code, 75 P.S. § 102. The amended Vehicle Code defines a police officer as "[a] natural person authorized by law to make arrests for violations of law." 75 Pa. C.S., § 102. Appellant contends that this new definition does not permit the courts to draw distinctions between officers in fact and in law. He argues that if an officer is not authorized by law to make the arrest then that officer cannot request a motorist to submit to a breathalyzer test. We cannot agree.

The new definition of police officer contains nothing which would preclude us from reaching the same conclusion we reached in Evans. As in Evans there is no question that the person who stopped and arrested the appellant was in fact a police officer. Appellant does not question the fact that Gregory Davis was duly employed as a police officer for the Borough of Homer City and he was clearly authorized by law to make arrests within ...


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