May PennDOT Refuse to Replace a Validly Issued Lost Driver’s License where the Driver’s Privileges were Suspended in Another State after the Original License was Issued?

J.T. Linkosky v. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing, 222 A.3d 1213 (Cmwlth. Ct. 2019), allocatur granted June 10, 2020, appeal docket 16 WAP 2020.

In this case, Linkosky, a person licensed to drive in both Pennsylvania and Ohio, applied for and was granted renewal of his Pennsylvania license (i.e., was issued a temporary camera card) days before he pled guilty to driving under the influence in Ohio.  He then misplaced his camera card and applied to Pennsylvania for a replacement card; by the time he sought the replacement card he had already lost his license in Ohio. Under the license renewal section of the Vehicle Code, the PennDOT is required to check to see if the applicant’s driving privileges in another state have been suspended; however, under the camera card replacement provision of the Vehicle Code, the law requires only that the applicant prove he lost the original card and pay the applicable fee for issuance of a new one.  The issue in this case is whether PennDOT can deny Linkosky’s camera card replacement application based on the Ohio license suspension that occurred after Pennsylvania had already granted his Pennsylvania license renewal by issuing the original camera card that Linkosky lost.

Renewal of a license under the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa.C.S. § 1503(a)(1) will be denied if the applicant’s” operating privilege is suspended or revoked in this or any other state.” Replacement of a lost license under  75 Pa.C.S. § 1513(a), however, requires only satisfactory proof of loss and payment of a fee:

If a learner’s permit or driver’s license issued under the provisions of this chapter is mutilated, lost, stolen, destroyed or becomes illegible, the person to whom it was issued, upon furnishing proof satisfactory to the department that the license or permit has been mutilated, lost, stolen, destroyed, or has become illegible, shall obtain a duplicate or substitute license or permit upon payment of the required fee.

The Commonwealth Court affirmed the trial court’s order requiring the Department to provide Linkosky with a duplicate license renewal camera card. The Commonwealth Court reasoned that under the Vehicle Code compliance with the statutory requirements of furnishing proof of loss of his license and paying the fee for a duplicate license:

mandated that the Department issue [Linkosky] a duplicate license. [Citation Omitted]. Thus, we find that Licensee’s application for a duplicate license renewal camera card merely sought replacement of a previously issued license and did not trigger the Department’s license renewal process a second time.

Slip Op. at 6.

The Supreme Court has granted allocatur to determine:

Where Licensee’s operating privilege was suspended in the State of Ohio when he applied for a duplicate Pennsylvania camera card (driver’s license), did the Department of Transportation err in denying his application for the duplicate camera card in accordance with the requirements of 75 Pa.C.S. § 1503(a)(1)?

For more information, contact Kevin McKeon or Dennis Whitaker.