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Flynn v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

September 1, 2010


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

Submitted: May 7, 2010



Charles A. Flynn (Flynn) appeals pro se from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County (trial court), which dismissed his statutory appeal from the action of the Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing (Department) in refusing to renew Flynn's operating privilege. We affirm.

On April 12, 2008, approximately six months prior to the expiration of his Pennsylvania driver's license, the Department sent Flynn a letter stating that the Department is required to check the National Driver Register (NDR) prior to renewing a driver's license. "NDR has been checked for your driver license record in Pennsylvania and it indicates driver license withdrawal in another state." (R.R., Exhibit A.) The letter stated that Illinois had withdrawn Flynn's driving privileges and further encouraged Flynn to take the necessary steps to clear his driving privilege. On September 10, 2008, the Department notified Flynn that it was unable to process his request for a driver's license because the State of Illinois had provided information to the NDR indicating that "your personal information is similar to that of the person(s) listed below who is not eligible to be licensed." (Reproduced Record, Exhibit B.) Thereafter, on October 7, 2009, Flynn appealed the denial of his application for a Pennsylvania driver's license to the trial court.

At the de novo hearing, Flynn testified and introduced documents, as did the Department. On October 29, 2009, the trial court ordered that Flynn's appeal of his operating privilege suspension and refusal of renewal be denied.

In its decision, the trial court observed that federal law now requires the Department to check the NDR prior to the issuance or renewal of a Pennsylvania driver's license. 49 U.S.C. §30304(e). All states have converted to the NDR Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS), which is provided for through 23 C.F.R. §1327. The Department is then responsible for determining whether the licensee's conduct requires suspension under Pennsylvania law. Taddei v. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing, 982 A.2d 1249, 1252 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2009).

Here, a check of the NDR revealed that Illinois had withdrawn Flynn's operating privilege. Flynn's Illinois record has a mandatory lifetime revocation because of the following four driving under the influence convictions: Illinois conviction on May 16, 1986; Illinois conviction on March 31, 1989; Pennsylvania conviction on August 9, 1996 and Pennsylvania conviction on November 6, 2002.

Flynn argued that he had surrendered his Illinois license to Pennsylvania sometime in 1988 when he obtained his Pennsylvania license, thus, severing any connection he had with Illinois for the purpose of that state's continuing to track his driver's record. The trial court observed, however, that there was no written documentation in the record to substantiate such surrender more than twenty years ago. Rather, Exhibit P-2, a letter from the Assistant General Counsel of the Office of the Secretary of State of Illinois, states: "[w]e noted the surrender of the Illinois license to Flynn's Illinois driving record on January 30, 2009. Mr. Flynn's Illinois driver's license was suspended at that time, having been suspended on November 8, 1988."

The trial court observed that Illinois continued to track and monitor Flynn's Illinois driving record and his out-of-state (Pennsylvania) driving record under the NDR. Illinois arguably had a legitimate interest in continuing to monitor Flynn's driving record for the remainder of his life, given his mandatory lifetime revocation status there.

The trial court also distinguished the case of Berner v. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing, 746 A.2d 1207 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2000). In that case, Berner, who was licensed in Pennsylvania, was arrested in New York for driving while intoxicated. After her arrest, she obtained a New York license based on her residency there. Berner surrendered her Pennsylvania license when she received her New York license. Subsequently, she pled guilty to driving while intoxicated.

Based on the Pennsylvania license that Berner produced at the time of her New York arrest, New York notified the Department of Berner's conviction. The Department then notified Berner that her Pennsylvania operating privileges would be suspended for one year, based on the New York conviction.

This court observed that at the time of Berner's New York conviction, she was no longer licensed in Pennsylvania. As such, Pennsylvania lacked the authority to suspend her driver's license.

Here, the trial court stated that it was unclear when Flynn surrendered his Illinois license. As indicated earlier in the opinion, however, the record reflects that the surrender of ...

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