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SUSPENSION? WHAT SUSPENSION?! DRIVER MUST RECEIVE NOTICE OF LICENSE SUSPENSION BEFORE CONVICTION WILL BE UPHELD

The PA Superior Court has decided the case of Commonwealth v. Scotty Joe Sales,  No. 2057 MDA 2016 (November 6, 2017), holding that without proof that Sales was mailed notice of his commercial driver’s license suspension, the evidence was insufficient to convict him of driving with a suspended CDL.

Sales was operating a commercial vehicle when he was stopped for speeding by State Police. At that time, Sales was a Kentucky resident and had a Kentucky commercial driver’s license (“CDL”) that was suspended. He was charged with operating on a suspended CDL.
After pleading not guilty, Sales was convicted by the magistrate. He filed a summary appeal and, at the summary appeal, the trial court found Sales guilty. However, after Sales appealed to the Superior Court, the trial court reversed itself, stating that it had erroneously convicted Sales and that the evidence was actually insufficient to prove that Sales had been provided notice that his CDL was suspended.
While acknowledging that Kentucky law did not require actual notice of the suspension to support a conviction for driving with a suspended license, the Superior Court noted that Pennsylvania law does require proof of actual notice to support a conviction. Absent any evidence of actual notice, the Commonwealth was required to satisfy the standard for proving notice under Kentucky law.
In this particular case, 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 the trial 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, the Superior Court concluded that the Commonwealth failed to establish that Sales actually received notice of the Kentucky license suspension.

CASE LINK: http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Superior/out/26598579.pdf?cb=1

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