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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ANDREA S. DANIELS (07/18/88)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: July 18, 1988.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BUREAU OF DRIVER LICENSING, APPELLANT
v.
ANDREA S. DANIELS, APPELLEE

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Andrea Daniels, No. 2253, December Term, 1986.

COUNSEL

Donald H. Poorman, Assistant Counsel, with him, Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Chief Counsel, John L. Heaton, Chief Counsel, for appellant.

No appearance for appellee.

Judges Craig and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino.

Author: Palladino

[ 117 Pa. Commw. Page 641]

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation (DOT) appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County (trial court) which reduced DOT's 60-day suspension of Andrea S. Daniels' (Appellee) driver's license to 30 days. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and reinstate the 60-day suspension.

On August 18, 1986, Appellee pleaded guilty to violating Section 3345(a) of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C. S.

[ 117 Pa. Commw. Page 642]

§ 3345(a).*fn1 As a result, Appellee's operating privilege was scheduled to be suspended for 60 days as mandated by section 1535(a) of the Vehicle Code, as amended, 75 Pa. C. S. § 1535.*fn2 Appellee appealed the suspension to the trial court and a hearing de novo was held on March 19, 1987.

At the hearing, Appellee admitted to pleading guilty and to committing the violation.*fn3 The trial court reduced the suspension period to 30 days because Appellee "expressed her remorse and impressed the Court with her sincerity and responsibility as a driver."*fn4 On appeal to this Court, DOT asserts that the trial court abused its discretion and erred as a matter of law when

[ 117 Pa. Commw. Page 643]

    it reduced Appellee's suspension period after it found that she had been convicted of the offense.

Our scope of review of a common pleas court decision in a motor vehicle license suspension case is limited to a determination of whether the findings of fact are supported by competent evidence, errors of law have been committed or the court's decision demonstrates a manifest abuse of discretion. Books v. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing, 109 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 25, 530 A.2d 972 (1987).

The authority of a trial court in reviewing an administrative suspension of a motorist's driver's license is limited to determining whether the motorist has been convicted and whether DOT has faithfully observed the provisions of the Vehicle Code in issuing the suspension. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing v. Didyoung, 106 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 118, 525 A.2d 863 (1987). It does not include authority to reduce legislatively-mandated periods of suspension. Id.

The record here clearly indicates that Appellee was convicted as charged and DOT properly applied the appropriate Vehicle Code provisions. The trial court exceeded its authority in modifying the legislatively-mandated suspension. See Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing v. Miller, 107 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 458, 528 A.2d 1030 (1987). Accordingly, we reverse the order of the trial court and reinstate the 60-day suspension imposed by DOT.

Order

And Now, July 18, 1988, the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in the above-captioned matter is reversed. The 60-day suspension by the Department of Transportation of Appellee's driver's license is reinstated.

Disposition

Reversed.


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