Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence March 23, 1987, in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Criminal No. S.A. 123 of 1986.
Richard L. Hughey, Media, for appellant.
William R. Toal, III, Assistant District Attorney, Media, for Com., appellee.
Cirillo, President Judge, and Wieand and Olszewski, JJ.
[ 368 Pa. Super. Page 438]
This is an appeal from the judgment of sentence entered by the trial court which found appellant guilty of driving with a suspended driver's license (75 Pa.C.S.A. § 1543). Appellant presents three issues for our review: (1) whether appellant's driving privileges had been restored at the time he was charged with violation of 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 1543(b) (extension of existing suspension); (2) whether the Commonwealth failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant had notice of the suspension of his operator's license; and (3) whether the doctrine of equitable estoppel bars the Commonwealth from claiming that appellant was operating a motor vehicle while under license suspension.
[ 368 Pa. Super. Page 439]
We find that appellant has failed to establish his entitlement to relief on any of these claims; accordingly, the judgment of sentence is affirmed.
Appellant was arrested on April 24, 1985 for driving while under the influence of alcohol. Although the charges arising from this arrest were ultimately dismissed, appellant's operating privileges were nonetheless suspended for one year because appellant refused to take a breathalyzer test. On January 2, 1986, appellant was stopped for failure to stop at a stop sign. Upon checking with the Department of Transportation ("Department"), the police officer discovered that appellant's driving privileges were suspended. A hearing was held before a district justice and appellant was found guilty. Appellant appealed to the trial court which found that appellant operated the vehicle with a suspended license and sentenced appellant to ninety days' imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.*fn1 This timely appeal followed.
Appellant first contends that his driving privileges had been restored and that on January 2, 1986 (the date appellant was charged with driving with a suspended driver's
[ 368 Pa. Super. Page 440]
license), he was not operating a vehicle with a suspended driver's license. Specifically, appellant argues that his license had been restored because the district justice dismissed the charge under Section 1547(b) (suspension for refusal to submit to a chemical test) and the Department accepted his payment of the license restoration fee. We disagree.
First, the district justice's dismissal of the criminal complaint against appellant did not affect the Department's suspension of his operating privilege for violation of 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 1547(b). A driver's operating privilege can be suspended pursuant to 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 1547 by the Department for refusal to submit to a chemical test regardless of the disposition of any criminal charges against the driver of the vehicle because the proceeding is civil and totally separate from the criminal proceeding. See Hando v. Commonwealth, 84 Pa. Commw. 63, 478 A.2d 932 (1984); Wisniewski v. Commonwealth, 73 Pa. Commw. 318, 457 A.2d 1334 (1983). See also 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 1547(b) (". . . upon notice by the police officer, the ...