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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. SCOTT ROHRER (07/03/89)

decided: July 3, 1989.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BUREAU OF DRIVER LICENSING, APPELLANT,
v.
SCOTT ROHRER, APPELLEE



Appeal from Common Pleas Court, Lancaster County, Honorable Michael J. Perezous, Judge.

COUNSEL

Christopher J. Clements, Asst. Counsel, with him, Harold H. Cramer, Asst. Chief Counsel, and John L. Heaton, Chief Counsel, Harrisburg, for appellant.

John D. Briggs, with him, William E. Haggerty, Morgan, Hallgren, Crosswell & Kane, P.C., Lancaster, for appellee.

Craig and Colins, JJ., and Kalish, Senior Judge.

Author: Kalish

[ 127 Pa. Commw. Page 356]

This is an appeal by the Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing (DOT), from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County which sustained the appeal of Scott Rohrer from a one-year suspension of his operating privileges. We affirm.

As the result of an automobile accident, the investigating state trooper had Rohrer transported to the local hospital. A laboratory technician withdrew blood from Rohrer to test it for alcohol content. Although the officer knew that blood had been withdrawn for alcohol testing, he advised Rohrer of the implied consent statute, including the warning of suspension for refusal. The officer requested Rohrer to submit to a blood test. Rohrer refused this request, and his operating privileges were suspended for one year pursuant to section 1547 of the Vehicle Code (Code), as amended, 75 Pa.C.S. § 1547.

Rohrer's appeal from the suspension was sustained by the trial court, finding that the police officer requested a

[ 127 Pa. Commw. Page 357]

    second blood test sample for his convenience in obtaining a criminal conviction. The trial court stated that mere convenience in prosecution is an inadequate reason for a police officer to make an initial request for a blood test where the officer is aware that such a test had been conducted by hospital personnel to obtain a blood alcohol content reading, and where the results were turned over to the officer.

Section 1547 of the Code provides that a motorist is deemed to have given his consent to one or more chemical tests of blood, breath, or urine where a police officer has reasonable cause to arrest a motorist for driving under the influence. Driving privileges will be suspended where a motorist refuses to submit to such test, after having been advised of the consequences of his refusal. The results of such tests are admissible in criminal proceedings.

Section 3755 of the Code, as amended, 75 Pa.C.S. § 3755, provides that if the driver requires medical treatment and if probable cause exists to believe that the driver was driving while intoxicated, the emergency room doctor or nurses shall promptly take blood samples, and the test results shall be released.

In Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety v. Emory, 91 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 580, 498 A.2d 26 (1985), this court held that while both sections 3755 and 1547 of the Code were designed to reduce the horrendous problem of drunk driving, there is no obvious nexus between the two sections. The license suspension proceedings being civil in nature are separate and apart from the criminal proceedings. The successful criminal prosecution of the driver using the results of the test of his blood obtained by the hospital did not absolve the driver from the mandated suspension provision of section 1547 where the driver admittedly refused to take a blood test. The court found further that even if the arresting officer was aware that a blood sample had been ...


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