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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. WILLIAM A. DAVIS (06/16/87)

decided: June 16, 1987.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BUREAU OF TRAFFIC SAFETY, APPELLANT
v.
WILLIAM A. DAVIS, APPELLEE



Appeal from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William A. Davis, No. 1478-C of 1982.

COUNSEL

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

No appearance for appellee.

Judges Craig and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino.

Author: Palladino

[ 106 Pa. Commw. Page 614]

This is an appeal by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety (DOT) from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County (trial court) sustaining the appeal of William A. Davis and reversing the suspension of his motor vehicle operator's license. For the reasons which follow, we reverse.

[ 106 Pa. Commw. Page 615]

Davis was arrested for driving under the influence*fn1 and refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. DOT suspended his license for six months pursuant to Section 1547 of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. ยง 1547.*fn2 Davis timely appealed this suspension to the trial court. By order dated June 30, 1982, the trial court dismissed Davis' appeal.*fn3 For reasons unexplained by either the record or DOT's brief,*fn4 the trial court, on January 11, 1984, issued a second order dismissing Davis' appeal and reinstating the suspension of his license.*fn5 Thereafter, Davis received a letter from DOT indicating the suspension of his license had been reinstated, effective April 3, 1984. Davis again appealed to the trial court on the grounds that the suspension of his license was untimely and that "there has been a change in circumstances which would warrant this court to set aside the motor vehicle license suspension. . . ." The trial court set a hearing date and granted Supersedeas pending the determination of the appeal.*fn6

Davis was the sole witness at the May 23, 1984 hearing and no physical evidence was presented. Davis testified that in the period between the denial of his appeal (June 30, 1982) and the receipt of the letter from DOT (early March of 1984) confirming the suspension,

[ 106 Pa. Commw. Page 616]

    he moved to a bigger store and his business expanded. NT. at 5. At the time of the suspension his merchandise was purchased locally, from Scranton and Hazleton. NT. at 5. Davis now goes to Philadelphia, Allentown, Florida and North Carolina to purchase merchandise. NT. at 6. Further, the following colloquy took place between Davis and his attorney regarding his expectation of whether DOT would suspend his license:

Q. After the Bench decision of June 30th, 1982, where the Judge told you that your appeal was dismissed, that you lost the case, and after not hearing anything from Harrisburg or ...


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