Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bell v. Commonwealth, Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

July 3, 2013

William J. Bell
v.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing, Appellant

Submitted: April 19, 2013

BEFORE: HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, President Judge HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, Judge HONORABLE ROCHELLE S. FRIEDMAN, Senior Judge

OPINION

ROCHELLE S. FRIEDMAN, Senior Judge

The Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing (DOT), appeals from the September 27, 2012, order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County (trial court), sustaining the appeal of William J. Bell and reducing the two three-year suspensions of his operating privilege that DOT imposed pursuant to section 1532(a.1) of the Vehicle Code (Code), 75 Pa. C.S. §1532(a.1), [1] to one three-year suspension. We affirm.

On February 15, 2012, Bell was convicted of three Code violations that occurred on April 19, 2011. Bell violated section 3802(c) of the Code, 75 Pa. C.S. §3802(c) (relating to driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance) (DUI), section 3735 of the Code, 75 Pa. C.S. §3735 (relating to homicide by vehicle while DUI), and section 3732 of the Code, 75 Pa. C.S. §3732 (relating to homicide by vehicle).

On March 20, 2012, DOT imposed: (1) a one-year suspension of Bell's operating privilege, effective February 15, 2012, in accordance with section 3804(e)(2)(i) of the Code, 75 Pa. C.S. §3804(e)(2)(i), for the DUI; (2) a three-year suspension of Bell's operating privilege, effective February 15, 2013, in accordance with section 1532(a.1)(1) of the Code, 75 Pa. C.S. §1532(a.1)(1), for the homicide by vehicle while DUI; and (3) a second three-year suspension of Bell's operating privilege, effective February 15, 2016, in accordance with section 1532(a.1)(2) of the Code, 75 Pa. C.S. §1532(a.1)(2), for the homicide by vehicle.

On April 17, 2012, Bell filed a single statutory appeal of all three suspensions with the trial court. At a de novo hearing on August 24, 2012, Bell acknowledged that while driving home from a funeral reception, he crossed the center line and struck another vehicle, causing the death of a woman. Bell is currently incarcerated based on his convictions. (N.T., 8/24/12, at 2-3.)

Bell offered into evidence the criminal trial court's "court summary" showing that for sentencing purposes, it had merged the homicide by vehicle and the homicide by vehicle while DUI convictions and imposed a single three-year prison sentence. The criminal trial court also sentenced Bell to 72 hours to six months incarceration for the DUI conviction. (N.T., 8/24/12, at 3.)

Bell argued at the hearing before the trial court that he should only receive one civil penalty, i.e., one three-year license suspension, for the criminal convictions of homicide by vehicle and homicide by vehicle while DUI because the criminal court had merged the two convictions for sentencing purposes. (N.T., 8/24/12, at 3-7.) The trial court agreed, and on October 9, 2012, it issued an order merging for suspension purposes the DUI and the homicide by vehicle convictions with the homicide by vehicle while DUI conviction, and imposing a single three-year license suspension beginning February 15, 2012.[2] DOT appealed to this court.[3]

DOT contends that the trial court erred in merging the convictions and reducing suspensions. We disagree.

In Commonwealth v. Anderson, 538 Pa. 574, 575-76, 650 A.2d 20, 20-21 (1994), Anderson, who shot a woman, was convicted of aggravated assault, attempted murder, and possession of an instrument of crime. Anderson argued that the crimes of attempted murder and aggravated assault should merge for sentencing purposes. The Supreme Court held that "in all criminal cases, the same facts may support multiple convictions and separate sentences for each conviction except in cases where the offenses are greater and lesser included offenses." Id. at 579, 650 A.2d at 22. To determine if an offense is a lesser included offense, the Supreme Court established the following test:

Our inquiry, under either description of merger, is whether the elements of the lesser crime are all included within the elements of the greater crime, and the greater offense includes at least one additional element which is different, in which case the sentences merge, or whether both crimes require proof of at least one element which the other does not, in which case the sentences do not merge.

Id. at 582, 650 A.2d at 24.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court determined that aggravated assault was a lesser included offense of attempted murder based upon the acts and the intent necessary to establish the offenses. Id. at 583, 650 A.2d at 24. "It is tautologous that one ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.