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JOSEPH PUSKAS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (06/14/88)

decided: June 14, 1988.

JOSEPH PUSKAS, APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County, in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Joseph Puskas, No. 83-C-569.

COUNSEL

Ira Mark Goldberg, for appellant.

Stephen F. J. Martin, Assistant Counsel, with him, Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Counsel, Spencer A. Manthorpe, Chief Counsel, Jay C. Waldman, General Counsel, for appellee.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge Colins, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Blatt.

Author: Blatt

[ 117 Pa. Commw. Page 149]

Joseph Puskas (appellant) appeals from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County affirming the cancellation of his driver's license by the Department of Transportation (DOT) pursuant to Section 1572 of the Vehicle Code (Code), 75 Pa. C. S. ยง 1572. We will reverse.

[ 117 Pa. Commw. Page 150]

According to the facts as accepted by the trial court, the appellant's operating privilege was revoked on July 1, 1977 by the State of Illinois as a result of his conviction for driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor (DUI). He was subsequently transferred to another state and, therefore, never applied to have his Illinois privilege reinstated.*fn1 After obtaining a valid license in Florida, the appellant moved to Pennsylvania in 1982. At that time, he surrendered his Florida driver's license and applied for a Pennsylvania license.

This request was initially granted, but was later cancelled upon DOT's discovery of the appellant's unreconciled record in Illinois. This cancellation was appealed and a hearing was held on April 8, 1983 at which no testimony was taken. Records of the appellant's Illinois conviction and license revocation were introduced by DOT at that time. The appellant objected on the grounds that these records were inadmissible hearsay.

The trial court held that, in order for the appellant to be eligible for a Pennsylvania driver's license, he must first attend an alcohol highway safety school. If he had wanted to have his operating privilege restored at the time that his violation is alleged to have occurred, then he would have only had to wait for one year before reapplying and paying a reinstatement fee.

There are three issues presently before us on appeal.*fn2 The first concerns the admissibility of the appellant's

[ 117 Pa. Commw. Page 151]

Illinois driving record. We note that our scope of review in cases such as this in which the trial court has held a de novo hearing is limited to a determination of whether findings of fact are supported by competent evidence, whether errors of law have been committed, and whether the decision demonstrates a manifest abuse of ...


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