Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation v. David McLaughlin, No. 87-8784.
Donald H. Poorman, Assistant Counsel, with him, Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Chief Counsel, and John L. Heaton, Chief Counsel, for appellant.
Mark S. Pinnie, for appellee.
Judges Craig and Barry, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 124 Pa. Commw. Page 497]
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has appealed an order by Judge Battle of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, which reversed a vehicle operator's license suspension imposed for refusal to take a chemical test for alcohol.
The facts in the record indicate that David W. McLaughlin was arrested pursuant to provisions of 75 Pa. C.S. § 3731(a)(1) by an officer in the Haverford Township Police Department, the charge being driving under the influence. The officer found Mr. McLaughlin passed out in the driver's seat of his car with the motor running. The car was located in the parking lot of a private residential condominium complex at which Mr. McLaughlin lived. The officer noted that McLaughlin had an open bottle of vodka in one hand and that there was a strong odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle. The officer requested that McLaughlin submit to a breathalyzer test. However, he refused to take the test. The officer warned McLaughlin that refusal to submit to the test would result in a twelve-month suspension of his driver's license.
The issue before this court is whether a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe a person to have been driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol when that officer observes the individual in the
[ 124 Pa. Commw. Page 498]
driver's seat with the engine running in a private residential parking lot.
To make this determination the court must consider 75 Pa. C.S. § 1547, which provides:
§ 1547 Chemical test 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 ...