from the Judgment of Sentence November 18, 2016 In the Court
of Common Pleas of Fulton County Criminal Division at No(s):
BEFORE: OLSON, J., MOULTON, J., and FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E.
Joe Sales appeals from the November 18, 2016 judgment of
sentence entered in the Court of Common Pleas of the 39th
Judicial District (Fulton County Branch) following his
conviction for driving while commercial operating privilege
is suspended, 75 Pa.C.S. § 1606(c)(1)(ii). For the
reasons that follow, we reverse.
16, 2016, Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Steven R.
Morningstar stopped Sales' tractor trailer on Interstate
70 in Brush Creek Township, Pennsylvania for a speeding
violation. At the time, Sales was a Kentucky resident and had
a Kentucky commercial driver's license ("CDL").
Upon accessing Sales' Kentucky driving record, Trooper
Morningstar learned that Sales' CDL had been suspended as
of March 27, 2016. Trooper Morningstar cited Sales for
speeding and for driving while commercial
operating privilege is suspended.
26, 2016, a magisterial district judge convicted Sales of
speeding and driving while commercial operating privilege is
suspended. Sales filed a summary appeal with the trial court,
which held a de novo hearing on November 18, 2016.
The trial court summarized the evidence presented at the
hearing as follows:
Trooper Morningstar testified that [on May 16, 2016] he
confronted [Sales] about the status of his license; according
to Trooper Morningstar, [Sales'] response was "kind
of a head cock, a shoulder shrug." It appeared to
Trooper Morningstar that [Sales] was "indifferent"
to the fact that his license was suspended.
Under cross-examination, Trooper Morningstar clarified that
[Sales] did not state that he was unaware of the license
suspension. When asked why his license was
suspended, [Sales] responded with "I don't
know" or "unknown."
[Sales] took the stand in his own defense. [Sales] denied any
knowledge of his license being suspended at the time he was
stopped by Trooper Morningstar. He further denied receiving
any letter or information from the [Commonwealth] of Kentucky
indicating his license was suspended.
Opinion Sur Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a), 3/9/17, at 3-4 (internal
citations omitted) ("1925(a) Op."). Further:
The Commonwealth introduced Commonwealth's Exhibit 1,
which consisted of the driving record of [Sales] as reported
by the [Commonwealth] of Kentucky. According to this record,
[Sales' CDL] was "suspended." The driving
record also establishes that Kentucky issued a suspension
order on March 27, 2016 for a violation of some type. It
further appears that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet
issued a previous order of suspension on June 27, 2015 for
"Failure to Answer Court Summons."
Id. at 3 (internal citations omitted). At the
conclusion of the hearing, the trial court found Sales guilty
of driving while commercial operating privilege is suspended
and sentenced him to pay fines and costs in the amount of $1,
December 14, 2016, Sales timely appealed to this Court. After
Sales filed his Pennsylvania Rule of Appellate Procedure
1925(b) statement, the trial court issued a Rule 1925(a)
opinion. In its opinion, the trial court stated that it had
erroneously convicted Sales and concluded that the evidence
at trial was insufficient to support the conviction:
In short, there was no evidence presented by the Commonwealth
to establish that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet mailed
notice of the suspension to [Sales] by first-class mail, as
required by Kentucky law. Further, there was no evidence
presented upon which this court could find [Sales] to have
actual notice of the suspension, i.e., no admission by
[Sales] that he was aware of the suspension or proof of
receipt of notice of the suspension.
Accordingly, this court is constrained to opine that it erred
in finding the Commonwealth's evidence sufficient to
prove beyond a reasonable doubt that [Sales] had ...