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Glidden v. Commonwealth

December 4, 2008

LLOYD W. GLIDDEN, II, APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BUREAU OF DRIVER LICENSING



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Simpson

Submitted: September 19, 2008

BEFORE: HONORABLE DORIS A. SMITH-RIBNER, Judge, HONORABLE ROBERT SIMPSON, Judge, HONORABLE JAMES R. KELLEY, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Lloyd W. Glidden, II (Licensee) appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County (trial court) that denied his statutory appeal from a one-year suspension of his operating privileges for a violation of Section 3802(a)(1) of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. §3802(a)(1) (driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance (DUI), general impairment). The issue is whether the trial court correctly found that Licensee was not sentenced for his DUI conviction under sections of the Vehicle Code that would allow him to avoid a suspension of his operating privileges. We affirm on other grounds.

In a criminal proceeding, Licensee pled guilty to DUI in violation of 75 Pa. C.S. §3802(a)(1) (DUI, general impairment). Subsequently, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) notified Licensee that his operating privileges would be suspended for one year pursuant to Section 3804(e)(2)(i) of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. §3804(e)(2)(i) (one-year suspension for an ungraded misdemeanor DUI violation). Licensee filed a statutory appeal to the trial court.

The trial court denied Licensee's appeal, ruling the Clerk of Courts was correct in certifying that Licensee had not been sentenced under 75 Pa. C.S. §3804(a)(1) (penalties for first-time DUI offenders, general impairment): therefore, PennDOT properly suspended his operating privileges for one year.

At the hearing before the trial court, PennDOT entered exhibit C-1 into evidence, establishing Licensee's violation of 75 Pa. C.S. §3802(a)(1) (DUI, general impairment). This included form DL-21, the Clerk of Court's report of Licensee's conviction. Supplemental Reproduced Record (S.R.R.) at 4b. The form reported that Licensee was convicted of a violation of 75 Pa. C.S. §3802(a)(1), he was sentenced to prison, and he was not sentenced under 75 Pa. C.S. §3804(a)(1). PennDOT also included Licensee's certified driving history. S.R.R. at 10b-12b. The driving history indicated Licensee violated 75 Pa. C.S. §3802(a)(1) and the resulting one-year suspension is under appeal. S.R.R. at 11b.

Before the trial court, Licensee stipulated to his conviction for a violation of 75 Pa. C.S. §3802(a)(1) (DUI, general impairment) and to his sentence of 30 days in prison. Licensee did not object to the admission of exhibit C-1, but challenged the Clerk's certification that Licensee was not sentenced under 75 Pa. C.S. §3804(a)(1) on form DL-21. Licensee argued he was sentenced under 75 Pa. C.S. §3804(a)(1) (penalties for first-time DUI offenders, general impairment). Thus, PennDOT could not suspend Licensee's operating privileges because he was a first-time offender convicted of an ungraded misdemeanor, subject to the penalties of 75 Pa. C.S. §3804(a). See 75 Pa. C.S. §3804(e)(2)(iii) (providing "no-suspension exception" to general one-year suspension).

On appeal,*fn1 Licensee argues the trial court erred by basing its opinion, in part, on documents from Licensee's underlying criminal conviction that were never submitted as part of the record. Next, Licensee contends the trial court erred as a matter of law by finding the criminal court sentenced him pursuant to Section 3804(b) of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. §3804(b) (penalties for DUI resulting in accidents) and Section 3804(c) of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. §3804(c) (penalties for DUI coupled with a refusal of chemical testing) rather than pursuant to 75 Pa. C.S. §3804(a)(1) (penalties for first-time DUI offenders). Finally, Licensee argues the trial court erred by finding the severity of his punishment established the criminal court did not sentence him as a first-time DUI offender.

Section 3804 is the penalties provision for DUI violations. It reads, in relevant part:

(e) Suspension of operating privileges upon conviction.--

(1) [PennDOT] shall suspend the operating privilege of an individual under paragraph (2) upon receiving a certified record of the individual's conviction of or an adjudication of delinquency for:

(i) an offense under section 3802;

(2) Suspension under paragraph (1) shall be in accordance ...


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