from the Order Entered March 22, 2016 In the Court of Common
Pleas of Clinton County Criminal Division at No(s):
BEFORE: LAZARUS, J., STABILE, J. and DUBOW, J.
Commonwealth appeals from the March 22, 2016 Order, entered
in the Clinton County Court of Common Pleas, granting the
Motion to Suppress Evidence filed by Appellee, Jeffrey
Maguire ("Maguire") in which Maguire sought to
suppress evidence inspectors obtained without a warrant from
an inspection of his commercial vehicle conducted during a
systematic vehicle inspection program. Because we find that
the Tarbert/Blouse guidelines do not
apply to the inspection of the commercial vehicle in this
case and the warrantless inspection meets the requirements of
New York v. Burger, 482 U.S. 691 (1987), and its
progeny, we reverse.
April 2015, the Pennsylvania State Police ("PSP")
and the Department of Environmental Protection
("DEP") organized a joint program, pursuant to 75
Pa.C.S. § 4704(a)(2) ("Section 4704(a)(2)"),
to inspect commercial vehicles at the Clinton County Landfill
in Wayne Township.
20, 2015, PSP Trooper Corey Beaver, a Motor Carrier
Enforcement Officer, and a Motor Carrier Enforcement
Supervisor, went to the landfill to conduct inspections of
commercial vehicles at the landfill. See Trial
Court's Findings of Fact, 3/22/16, at ¶¶ 1-9.
inspection officers established a procedure whereby each
officer, as he or she became available, would stop the next
truck entering the landfill. Id. at 10.
Beaver was in a marked patrol car when Maguire arrived in a
commercial vehicle, a tri-axle dump truck. Trooper Beaver
exited his vehicle and motioned for Maguire to pull into the
lot where the officers were conducting the inspections.
Trooper Beaver asked Maguire for his documents. While
speaking with Maguire, Trooper Beaver smelled the odor of an
alcoholic beverage emanating from his breath.
provided Trooper Beaver with the necessary documents, and
Trooper Beaver conducted a "Level Two" inspection,
which, in addition to a review of the documents, included an
inspection of lights, horn, wipers, tires, wheel condition,
and safety equipment. Id. at ¶¶ 15-20.
the inspection, Trooper Beaver asked Maguire to exit the
vehicle, which Maguire did. Trooper Beaver asked Maguire if
Maguire had been drinking and advised Maguire that Trooper
Beaver detected the odor of alcohol.
responded that he "drank a beer" on his way over to
the Landfill. Trooper Beaver observed a cooler on the floor
of the truck, in front of the gearshift, and asked Maguire
about the contents. Maguire responded that it contained water
and beer. The cooler contained three 12-ounce cans of Busch
Light beer and a few water bottles. Id. at
Beaver then conducted field sobriety testing on Maguire.
Maguire failed two of the three tests. Trooper Beaver then
transported Maguire to the hospital for blood testing.
Id. at ¶¶ 29-31; N.T. Suppression Hearing,
5/13/16, at 12.
this incident, the Commonwealth charged Maguire, a commercial
truck driver, with five counts of Driving Under the Influence
and five counts of Unlawful Activities.
filed a pretrial Suppression Motion, arguing that the
Tarbert/Blouse guidelines applied to a
commercial vehicle inspection and since the inspection in
this case failed to meet those guidelines, the inspection of
Maguire's truck was unconstitutional.
March 14, 2016, the trial court conducted a hearing on
Maguire's Motion to Suppress, following which it granted
the motion. The trial court, relying on this Court's
holding in Commonwealth v. Garibay, 106 A.3d 136
(Pa. Super. 2014), expanded the scope of the
Tarbert/Blouse guidelines to include an
inspection of a commercial vehicle. See Trial Ct.
Op., 3/22/16, at 6 (unpaginated). The trial court concluded
that since the inspection at issue did not meet the standards
set forth in Tarbert/Blouse, the inspection
was unconstitutional and suppressed the evidence of
Maguire's alcohol consumption.
Commonwealth timely appealed and presents the following
issues for our review:
1. Do the Tarbert/Blouse guidelines apply
to commercial vehicle inspections conducted pursuant to 75
Pa.C.S. § 4704, particularly where commercial vehicle
inspections are part of a highly regulated industry exception
to the warrant requirement?
2. Did the trial court err because after State Police stopped
Maguire's commercial vehicle to conduct a lawful
commercial vehicle inspection, the State Police had probable
cause to believe Maguire was operating his commercial vehicle
under the influence of alcohol because an odor or alcohol
emanated from Maguire?
Brief at 4.
review the grant of a Motion to Suppress, we consider
"only the evidence from the defendant's witnesses
along with the Commonwealth's evidence that remains
uncontroverted." Commonwealth v. Guzman, 44
A.3d 688, 691-92 (Pa. Super. 2013). Our standard of review is
restricted to whether the record supports the suppression
court's factual findings. With respect to legal
conclusions, however, we conduct de novo review.
the only evidence in this case was that of Trooper Beaver and
his testimony was not contradicted, there are no relevant
facts in dispute. Therefore, the issues on appeal are purely
legal issues and our standard of review is de novo.
See Commonwealth v. Beaman, 880 A.2d 578, 581 (Pa.
2005); Guzman, supra.
well-settled that the Tarbert/Blouse
guidelines apply to checkpoints established to inspect
non-commercial vehicles pursuant to 75
Pa.C.S. § 6308(b). See Garibay,
supra; In re J.A.K., 908 A.2d 322 (Pa.
Super. 2006). We now consider whether the
Tarbert/Blouse guidelines also apply to an
inspection of a commercial vehicle that is
conducted pursuant to a systematic vehicle inspection
Commonwealth argues that the trial court erred in expanding
the Tarbert/Blouse guidelines to
inspections of commercial vehicles because commercial vehicle
inspections fall within the closely regulated industry
exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement as
enumerated in Burger. Commonwealth's Brief at
12, 19. We agree.
United States Supreme Court in Burger recognized an
exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement for
administrative inspections in "closely regulated"
businesses. The Court held that an owner or operator of a
commercial business or vehicle in a closely regulated
industry has a substantially reduced expectation of privacy.
Thus, the Fourth Amendment warrant and probable cause
requirements applicable in the context of a pervasively
regulated business are lower. See
Burger, 482 U.S. at 699-702.
Burger Court also concluded that, in the context of
a closely regulated business, warrantless inspections are
constitutional if: (1) there is a "substantial
governmental interest inform[ing] the regulatory scheme
pursuant to which the inspection is made"; (2) the
inspection is necessary to advance the regulatory scheme; and
(3) the statute's inspection program is applied with such
certainty and regularity as to provide a
"constitutionally adequate substitute for a
warrant." Burger, 482 U.S. at 702-703. The
Court ultimately held that a valid administrative inspection
without a warrant that uncovers evidence of a crime does not
violate the Fourth Amendment. Id. at 716.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in Commonwealth v.
Petroll, 738 A.2d 993 (Pa. 1999) addressed the
constitutionality of a warrantless search of a
tractor-trailer after the driver of a tractor-trailer crashed
into other vehicles, killing several individuals. The police
conducted the search immediately after the accident and the
search was not part of a systematic vehicle inspection
Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted the three-part test that
the U.S. Supreme Court enunciated in Burger for a
closely regulated business:
1. There must be a "substantial" government
interest that informs the regulatory scheme pursuant to which
the inspection is made;
2. The warrantless inspection must be "necessary to
further the regulatory scheme"; and
3. The statute's inspection program, in terms of the
certainty and regularity of its application, must provide a
constitutionally adequate substitute for a warrant. In other
words, the regulatory statute must perform the two basic
functions of a warrant: it must advise the owner of the
commercial premises that the search is being made pursuant to
the law ...