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DEBORAH ANNE SHEAKLEY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (07/30/86)

decided: July 30, 1986.

DEBORAH ANNE SHEAKLEY, APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Deborah Anne Sheakley, No. S.A. No. 550 of 1984.

COUNSEL

H. David Rothman, for appellant.

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

Judge MacPhail, and Senior Judges Rogers and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Barbieri.

Author: Barbieri

[ 99 Pa. Commw. Page 329]

This is a driver's license suspension case wherein the Department of Transportation (PennDOT) suspended the driver's license of the Appellant, Deborah Anne Sheakley, for a period of one year pursuant to Section 1547 of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. § 1547, for her refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test. Sheakley has appealed that suspension on several grounds. We affirm.

The pertinent facts are as follows. On April 5, 1984, Sheakley's vehicle was stopped by a Pittsburgh police officer after the officer observed her driving in an unsafe manner. After he had stopped her vehicle, the officer detected the odor of alcohol emanating from Sheakley and observed that she was both combative and staggered when she walked upon exiting the vehicle. The officer arrested her for driving under the influence and she was transported to a nearby police station. At the station, Sheakley was requested to submit to a breathalyzer and informed that her license would be

[ 99 Pa. Commw. Page 330]

    suspended for one year upon her refusal to take the test. She refused.

Subsequent to her refusal, Sheakley was admitted to the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program pursuant to Pa. R. Crim. P. 175-186 in connection with the criminal driving under the influence charge. Under the ARD program, she lost her driving privileges for thirty days.

On April 27, 1984, PennDOT notified her that it was suspending her driver's license for a period of one year pursuant to 75 Pa. C.S. § 1547 as a result of her refusal to submit to a breathalyzer at the time of her arrest on April 5, 1984. She appealed that suspension to Allegheny County Common Pleas Court which dismissed her appeal after a de novo hearing and affirmed PennDOT's suspension order. She has since filed a timely appeal of the common pleas order with this Court.

In this appeal, Sheakley contends that: (1) her due process and equal protection rights were violated when the arresting officer failed to inform her of the availability of the ARD program even if she failed the breathalyzer test prior to requesting that she take the test, thus rendering her refusal neither knowing nor informed; (2) that 75 Pa. C.S. § 1547, which mandates an automatic suspension of a driver's license for a refusal to submit to a breathalyzer, is an unconstitutional encroachment upon the powers of the judiciary by the General Assembly; and (3) that the mandatory one year suspension for a refusal to submit to a breathalyzer is an unconstitutional abuse of the Commonwealth's police power. We shall address those issues in the order stated. We are also cognizant ...


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