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Fowler v. Commonwealth

August 5, 2010

WILLIAM H. FOWLER III, APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BUREAU OF DRIVER LICENSING



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Senior Judge Kelley

Submitted: March 26, 2010

BEFORE: HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, Judge, HONORABLE JOHNNY J. BUTLER, Judge, HONORABLE JAMES R. KELLEY, Senior Judge.

OPINION

William H. Fowler III (Licensee) appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County (Trial Court) denying and dismissing Licensee's appeal from an action of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing (DOT). DOT denied Licensee's request to renew his Pennsylvania driver's license on the ground that his operating privilege has been revoked in the State of Florida. We affirm.

The following facts are taken from the Trial Court's brief Opinion, issued in conjunction with its order dated September 21, 2009. Based upon Licensee's fourth conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), Florida permanently revoked Licensee's driver's license.*fn1 The relevant Florida statute reads:

Period of suspension or revocation

(2) In a prosecution for a violation of s. 316.193 [governing driving under the influence, and penalties therefor] or former s. 316.1931, the following provisions apply:

(e) The court shall permanently revoke the driver's license or driving privilege of a person who has been convicted four times for violation of s. 316.193 or former s. 316.1931 or a combination of such sections. The court shall permanently revoke the driver's license or driving privilege of any person who has been convicted of DUI manslaughter in violation of s. 316.193. If the court has not permanently revoked such driver's license or driving privilege within 30 days after imposing sentence, the department shall permanently revoke the driver's license or driving privilege pursuant to this paragraph. No driver's license or driving privilege may be issued or granted to any such person. This paragraph applies only if at least one of the convictions for violation of s. 316.193 or former s. 316.1931 was for a violation that occurred after July 1, 1982. For the purposes of this paragraph, a conviction for violation of former s. 316.028, former s. 316.1931, or former s. 860.01 is also considered a conviction for violation of s. 316.193. Also, a conviction of driving under the influence, driving while intoxicated, driving with an unlawful blood-alcohol level, or any other similar alcohol-related or drug-related traffic offense outside this state is considered a conviction for the purposes of this paragraph.

FLA. STAT. §322.28 (2002). Licensee subsequently applied for a Pennsylvania license, and by notice dated February 4, 2009,*fn2 DOT refused to grant a license based upon the Florida revocation, pursuant to Section 1503(a)(1) of the Vehicle Code, which reads:

a) Persons ineligible for licensing.

The department shall not issue a driver's license to, or renew the driver's license of, any person:

(1) Whose operating privilege is suspended or revoked in this or any other state.

75 Pa.C.S. §1503(a)(1).

Before the Trial Court, Licensee argued that Florida's permanent license revocation constitutes a wide disparity with the one-year license suspension for a ...


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