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12/31/97 RYAN DAVID GEITGEY v. COMMONWEALTH

December 31, 1997

RYAN DAVID GEITGEY
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BUREAU OF DRIVER LICENSING, APPELLANT



Appealed From No. 1996-2056. Common Pleas Court of the County of Mercer. Judge STRANAHAN.

Before: Honorable James R. Kelley, Judge, Honorable Jim Flaherty, Judge, Honorable Emil E. Narick, Senior Judge. Opinion BY Judge Kelley.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kelley

OPINION BY JUDGE KELLEY

FILED: December 31, 1997

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing (DOT), appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Mercer County (trial court). The trial court's order granted Ryan David Geitgey's request to set aside DOT's six-month suspension of his operating privilege imposed pursuant to section 3717(e)(2)(ii) of the Vehicle Code, *fn1 and directed DOT to reissue a penalty in accordance with the trial court's decision. We reverse.

This appeal requires this court to construe the language of section 3717 of the Vehicle Code. 75 Pa.C.S. § 3717. Section 3717 provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

(c) Damage to real property by operation of motor vehicle prohibited. --It is unlawful for a person to knowingly or recklessly cause damage to any real or personal property by means of the operation of a motor vehicle on private property. ...

(e) Offense defined. --The following penalties shall apply:

(2) A person who violates subsection (c) or (d) commits a summary offense and shall, upon conviction, be subject to the following penalties:

(i) A fine of $500 for a first conviction of the offense.

(ii) A fine of $1,000 plus suspension of operating privileges for a period of six months for a second or subsequent conviction of the offense.

The facts surrounding the instant appeal are not in dispute. On November 19, 1995, at 1:00 a.m., Geitgey struck an unattended vehicle. Thereafter, Geitgey was issued a citation for a violation of section 3717(c) of the Vehicle Code. Geitgey was convicted of this offense on November 28, 1995 and received a $500 fine in accordance with section 3717(e)(2)(i) of the Vehicle Code.

On November 19, 1995 at 1:13 a.m., Geitgey struck a second unattended vehicle and was cited a second time for a violation of section 3717(c). Geitgey was convicted of the second violation on January 16, 1996 and received a $1,000 fine and six-month operating privilege suspension in accordance with section 3717(e)(2)(ii). Geitgey appealed the six-month suspension to the trial court.

On appeal to the trial court, Geitgey argued that in order for the enhanced penalty under section 3717(e)(2)(ii) to apply to his second conviction, he must have been convicted of the first offense before he committed the second offense. Geitgey asserted that because his second citation for violating section 3717(c) occurred on November 19, 1995, and his ...


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