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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. PHYLLIS A. BENDIK (01/20/88)

decided: January 20, 1988.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BUREAU OF DRIVER LICENSING, APPELLANT
v.
PHYLLIS A. BENDIK, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Phyllis A. Bendik, No. SA 745 of 1985.

COUNSEL

Robert C. Bell, Assistant Counsel, with him, Spencer A. Manthorpe, Chief Counsel, and Morey Myers, General Counsel, for appellant.

John Elash, for appellee.

Judges Craig, Doyle and Barry, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry.

Author: Barry

[ 112 Pa. Commw. Page 592]

The Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing (DOT) appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which sustained the appeal of Phyllis A. Bendik (appellee) from the suspension of her driver's license by DOT for a period of one year due to her refusal to submit to a blood test.

[ 112 Pa. Commw. Page 593]

On April 2, 1985, Officer George Polnar, a police officer for the Municipality of Monroeville, was called to investigate a disturbance at the Gambit Restaurant in the Marriot Motel in Monroeville. Upon arriving at the scene, restaurant security personnel identified a car which had collided with another car while pulling out of the motel parking lot as that in which the persons causing the disturbance were riding. Upon observing this vehicle, the arresting officer saw the appellee get out of the driver's side, and noticed that she was unsteady on her feet and was supporting herself by holding onto her vehicle and the other vehicle involved in the accident. Appellee had the odor of alcohol on her breath, slurred speech, had difficulty in locating her owner's card and dropped her driver's license. She failed two field sobriety tests, was placed under arrest and transported to the police station. At the station, she was informed of the implied consent statute and of the consequences of a refusal to submit to chemical testing. She refused to submit to a blood test.

As a result of her actions, DOT suspended appellee's license pursuant to Section 1547 of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. § 1547. Appellee then appealed the suspension to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, which sustained the appeal. This appeal then followed.

The Commonwealth here contends that the trial court erred when it found that the arresting officer did not have reasonable grounds to believe that appellee was operating her motor vehicle on a highway or trafficway while intoxicated. Section 1547 of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. § 1547, provides in applicable part as follows:

Any person who drives, operates or is in actual physical control of the movement of a motor vehicle in this Commonwealth shall be deemed

[ 112 Pa. Commw. Page 594]

    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 ...


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