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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. DOUGLAS N. SNYDER (08/19/87)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: August 19, 1987.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BUREAU OF DRIVER LICENSING, APPELLANT
v.
DOUGLAS N. SNYDER, APPELLEE

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Douglas N. Snyder, No. 1984-C-6653.

COUNSEL

Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Counsel, with him, Spencer A. Manthorpe, Chief Counsel, and Morey Myers, General Counsel, for appellant.

Douglas N. Snyder, appellee, for himself.

Judges MacPhail and Barry, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 108 Pa. Commw. Page 518]

The Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety (DOT) appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County which set aside DOT's suspension of the operating privileges of Douglas N. Snyder (Appellee).*fn1 We reverse.

[ 108 Pa. Commw. Page 519]

At the hearing before the Common Pleas Court, DOT presented a certified copy of its records which indicated that Appellee was convicted on May 31, 1984 for a violation of Section § 1543 of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. § 1543, driving while his operating privileges were suspended. The copy of the citation shows that the violation occurred on February 22, 1982, while a copy of a "Request for Suspension of Operating Privileges for Failure to Respond to a Citation or Pay Fine" presented into evidence by Appellee shows a violation date of March 11, 1982. In any event, Appellee attempted to show that his license was not under suspension on the date he supposedly violated Section 1543 and for which he was convicted on May 31, 1984.

The Common Pleas Court noted in its opinion that DOT attempted to clear up the confusion concerning the violation date, but was unable to garner a response from the District Justice involved. The Court went on to set aside the conviction because DOT's suspension notice sent to Appellee on August 8, 1984 noted the conviction date of May 31, 1984, which was after Appellee's operating privileges had been restored on March 8, 1984 from a suspension for another violation not the subject of this appeal. The Common Pleas Court held that the May 31, 1984 conviction appeared to be "illegal per se" because Appellee's license had been restored prior to May 31, 1984.

What the Common Pleas Court fails to note, however, is that the May 31, 1984 conviction was for a violation that occurred on either February 22, 1982 or March 11, 1982, either date being within a time when it appears from DOT's records that Appellee's license was under suspension.

In any event, the law is clear that an underlying criminal conviction may not be attacked in a subsequent driver's license suspension appeal which is civil in nature.

[ 108 Pa. Commw. Page 520]

    after the conviction date. Appellee has not even attempted to show that he was prejudiced by this delay.

We conclude that DOT has correctly followed the law in suspending Appellee's license for his violation of Section 1543 of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. § 1543. The order of the Court of Common Pleas must be reversed.

Order

The order of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County which set aside the suspension of Douglas N. Snyder's operating privileges by the Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing is reversed and the suspension order is reinstated.

Disposition

Reversed. Suspension reinstated.


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