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Taddei v. Commonwealth

September 9, 2009

REGINA MARIE TADDEI, APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BUREAU OF DRIVER LICENSING



Per curiam.

ORDER

AND NOW, this 6th day of November, 2009, it is ORDERED that the above-captioned opinion filed September 9, 2009 shall be designated OPINION rather than MEMORANDUM OPINION, and it shall be reported.

Submitted: July 24, 2009

BEFORE: HONORABLE RENÉE COHN JUBELIRER, Judge HONORABLE JOHNNY J. BUTLER, Judge HONORABLE ROCHELLE S. FRIEDMAN, Senior Judge.

OPINION

JUDGE BUTLER

Regina Marie Taddei (Taddei) appeals from the January 26, 2009 order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County (trial court) denying the appeal of the suspension of her operating privileges as a result of her New Jersey conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. The issues raised by the parties are: 1) whether the trial court erred in finding that the report of conviction from New Jersey was sufficient to meet the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's (PennDOT) burden of proving an out-of-state conviction under the Driver's License Compact;*fn1 and 2) whether the trial court erred in allowing Taddei to testify for PennDOT's case-in-chief. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the trial court.

Taddei is licensed to drive in Pennsylvania, and was convicted of DUI in New Jersey on July 14, 2008. She received notice on August 29, 2008 that her operating privileges were being suspended for one year due to the New Jersey DUI conviction, pursuant to Section 3804(e)(2)(i) of the Vehicle Code*fn2 and the Driver's License Compact, Article III.*fn3 Taddei filed a timely appeal, and an evidentiary hearing was held on November 5, 2008. Following the hearing and the submission of memoranda of law by both parties, the trial court denied Taddei's appeal and reinstated the suspension of her operating privileges. She timely appealed to this Court.*fn4

Taddei argues that New Jersey failed to provide PennDOT with sufficient information of her conviction for DUI to allow the suspension of her operating privileges pursuant to Section 3804(e)(2)(i) of the Vehicle Code, since New Jersey's report only utilized the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators' (AAMVA) Code designated for a DUI violation, i.e., "A20," and Pennsylvania did not publish this code in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

"PennDOT bears the initial burden to establish a prima facie case that a record of conviction supports a suspension." Glidden v. Com., Dep't of Transp., Bureau of Driver Licensing, 962 A.2d 9, 12 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2008). According to the Driver's License Compact, Article III:

The licensing authority of a party state shall report each conviction of a person from another party state occurring within its jurisdiction to the licensing authority of the home state of the licensee. Such report shall clearly identify the person convicted, describe the violation specifying the section of the statute, code or ordinance violated, identify the court in which action was taken, indicate whether a plea of guilty or not guilty was entered or the conviction was a result of the forfeiture of bail, bond or other security and shall include any special findings made in connection therewith.

75 Pa.C.S. § 1581. Further:

Our supreme court explained that the Compact is to be liberally construed so as to effectuate its purposes, and, upon receiving an out-of-state conviction report, even a report that does not strictly comply with the Compact's requirements, a home state's responsibility is to determine whether the conduct underlying the conviction requires the imposition of a suspension.

Roselle v. Dep't of Transp., Bureau of Driver Licensing, 865 A.2d 308, 311 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2005). Finally, "[t]he omission from any report received by the department from a party state of any information required by Article III of the compact shall not excuse or prevent the department from complying with its duties under Articles IV and V of the compact." 75 Pa.C.S. § 1584 PennDOT offered into evidence a certified packet of documents, including PennDOT's suspension notice, the New Jersey conviction report, a record of Taddei's 2006 Pennsylvania DUI offense, a copy of 23 C.F.R. § 1327 (2008), and the pertinent section of the AAMVA Decoder Digest, indicating New Jersey's reporting codes in the AAMVA Code Dictionary (ACD).*fn5 PennDOT asked that the trial court judge take judicial notice of the sections of the Code of Federal Regulations he offered into evidence as a means of identifying the ACD Code on the New Jersey report. Reproduced Record (R.R.) at 42a, 46a. The ACD Code in the New Jersey report was "A20." R.R. at 8a. According to 23 C.F.R. ยง 1327, A20 is the code used for driving ...


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