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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. RAYMOND W. WYSOCKI (12/28/87)

decided: December 28, 1987.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, APPELLEE,
v.
RAYMOND W. WYSOCKI, APPELLANT



Appeal from Order of Commonwealth Court entered august 9, 1985, at No. 235 C.D. 1984, affirming Order of Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County entered January 12, 1984, at No. 1983-C-7720. Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ. Hutchinson, J., did not participate in the decision of this case. Papadakos, J., files a dissenting opinion.

Author: Nix

[ 517 Pa. Page 176]

OPINION

The instant appeal presents a challenge to the validity of a driver's license suspension for refusal to submit to a

[ 517 Pa. Page 177]

    breathalyzer test after the licensee was arrested at a roadblock, conducted by the State Police in an attempt to detect drivers operating motor vehicles under the influence of alcoholic beverages. Central to the appellant's challenge is his assertion that the roadblock was unconstitutional.

Appellant Raymond Wysocki's vehicle was stopped in the early morning hours of July 10, 1983, at a "traffic check" being conducted by six State Troopers on Route 512 in Hanover Township, Northampton County. The purpose of the roadblock was to enforce the "Drunk Driving Law" and to check driver's licenses, registration insurance cards and inspection stickers. All vehicles travelling in either direction were stopped unless all six troopers were occupied with other vehicles. The trooper who stopped Wysocki noticed the odor of alcohol on his breath. Wysocki had difficulty producing his license, registration and insurance cards. He was requested to perform two field sobriety tests but was unable to perform either test. Wysocki was then arrested and taken to the Bethlehem State Police Barracks, where he was asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. Wysocki refused. A criminal complaint subsequently filed against him was dismissed for lack of evidence after a preliminary hearing. On September 8, 1983, the Director of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Traffic Safety notified Wysocki that his operating privileges were suspended for one year in consequence of Wysocki's refusal to take a breathalyzer test in violation of section 1547 of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa.C.S. § 1547. Wysocki appealed, challenging the constitutionality of the roadblock. The Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County affirmed the license suspension. That decision was subsequently affirmed by the Commonwealth Court. Wysocki v. Commonwealth, Department of Transportation, 91 Pa. Commw. 42, 496 A.2d 897 (1985). This Court granted Wysocki's petition for allowance of appeal.

[ 517 Pa. Page 178]

Permission to operate a motor vehicle upon the highways of this Commonwealth is a privilege subject to such conditions as the legislature may see fit to impose. Commonwealth Page 178} v. Funk, 323 Pa. 390, 186 A. 65 (1936). Among the conditions prescribed by the General Assembly is the "implied consent" to submit to chemical testing pursuant to section 1547 of the Vehicle Code, which provides in pertinent part:

§ 1547. Chemical testing to determine amount of alcohol or controlled substance

(a) General rule. -- Any person who drives, operates or is in actual physical control of the movement of a motor vehicle in this Commonwealth shall be deemed to have given consent to one or more chemical tests of breath, blood or urine for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of blood or the presence of a controlled substance if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe the person to have been driving, operating or in actual physical control of the movement of a motor vehicle:

(1) while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance or both; or

(2) which was involved in an accident in which the operator or passenger of any vehicle involved or a pedestrian required treatment ...


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