Ashland Transfer Co. v. State Tax. Comm.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
Writing for the CourtJudge Thomas
Citation247 Ky. 144
Decision Date16 December 1932
PartiesAshland Transfer Co. et al. v. State Tax Commission et al. Aetna Oil Service v. Same.
247 Ky. 144
Ashland Transfer Co. et al.
v.
State Tax Commission et al.
Aetna Oil Service
v.
Same.
Court of Appeals of Kentucky.
Decided December 16, 1932.

1. Highways. — Regulation, maintenance, and protection of, and safety of travelers on, public highways, is within police power of jurisdiction maintaining highways.

2. Commerce. — State's power to regulate traffic on public highways may operate on nonresidents or those engaged exclusively in interstate commerce, as well as those in intrastate commerce, especially when Congress has not taken over field of regulating interstate commerce by highway traffic.

3. Highways. — State statutes regulating highway traffic will be upheld where confined to reasonable regulation; neither exact precision nor scientific calculation being essential to reasonableness.

4. Automobiles; Constitutional Law. — Statute regulating motortrucks held not unconstitutional as impairing obligations of carriers' contracts for carriage of freight (Acts 1932, c. 106).

Acts 1932, c. 106, defines motortrucks, trailers, and semitrailers, prescribes their maximum length, loaded weight, height, etc., provides speed limitations, requires certain equipment, and provides for exemptions from, exceptions to, and enforcement of, the act.

5. Constitutional Law. — Statute regulating motortrucks held not unconstitutional as impairing owners' claimed contracts with commonwealth by reason of their complying with license statute and regulatory measures under prior statute (Acts 1932, c. 106).

Page 145

6. Constitutional Law. — In statute regulating motortrucks, prescribed limitations, including maximum length and width, held not arbitrary or confiscatory, and hence did not deprive owners of due process or equal protection of laws (Acts 1932, c. 106; Constitution U.S. Amend. 14).

Acts 1932, c. 106, fixes maximum gross weight of any motortruck or semitrailer truck, including load, at 18,000 pounds; maximum height at 11 1/2 feet; maximum width at 96 inches; and maximum length of motortruck alone at 26 1/2 feet, and of a semitrailer truck at 30 feet.

7. Constitutional Law. — Statute regulating motortrucks held not unconstitutional as depriving owners of due process or equal protection of laws, though postponing application of maximum weight until January 1, 1933, for trucks paying registration fee before approval of act, without postponing enforcement of maximum length (Acts 1932, c. 106, sec. 13 [c]; Constitution U.S. Amend. 14).

8. Constitutional Law. — Motortruck regulating statute authorizing highway commission or county judges to reduce load and speed limits to prevent damage to roads or bridges, and prohibit motortruck traffic entirely for limited periods if necessary for public safety, held not invalid as delegating legislative power (Acts 1932, c. 106).

Acts 1932, c. 106, sec. 12, provides that highway commission in respect of state highways, and county courts or judges thereof in respect of county roads, may by notice prescribe lower load and speed limits when, in their judgment, any road, bridge, or culvert shall, by reason of its design, deterioration, rain, or other climatic or natural causes, be liable to be damaged or destroyed by motortrucks if gross weight or speed thereof should exceed limits prescribed in such notice, and that such commission or county courts or judges may by like notice regulate or prohibit, in whole or part, operation of motortrucks on state highways or county roads or specified parts thereof for limited periods or specified days or parts of days, whenever in their judgment such regulation or prohibition is necessary to provide for public safety and convenience by reason of traffic density or extensive use thereof by traveling public.

9. Constitutional Law. — Motortruck regulating statute authorizing highway commission or county judges, under certain conditions, to reduce maximum load and speed limits, and prohibit motortruck traffic entirely for limited periods, held not invalid as failing to provide standard for administrative action and conferring arbitrary power (Acts 1932, c. 106, sec. 12).

10. Constitutional Law. — Motortruck regulating statute authorizing highway commission to prescribe rules for issuance of permits

Page 146

to operate trucks not complying with statute requirements, to meet unusual conditions, held not invalid as delegating legislative power (Acts 1932, c. 106, sec. 13 [c]).

Acts 1932, c. 106, sec. 13 (c), authorizes commission to prescribe, by orders of general application, rules and regulations for issuance by it of permits for operation of motortrucks, tractors, semitrailers, and trailers whose gross weight, including load, height, width, or length, may exceed limits prescribed by act, or which in other respects fail to comply with requirements of act, and that such permit may be issued by commissioner for stated periods and for special purposes and to meet unusual conditions, and on such terms and conditions in interest of public safety and preservation of highways as commission may, in its discretion, require.

11. Constitutional Law. — Motortruck regulating statute authorizing highway commission to prescribe rules for issuance of permits for operation of trucks not conforming to requirements of act, to meet unusual conditions, held not invalid as not prescribing standard to govern commission and conferring arbitrary power (Acts 1932, c. 106, sec. 13 [c]).

12. Constitutional Law. — Doubt should be resolved in favor of validity of statute.

13. Constitutional Law. — Motortruck regulating statute, authorizing highway commission or county judges to reduce load and speed limits and authorizing commission to allow variation from statute in certain cases, held not invalid as conferring arbitrary power, though not providing for appeal (Acts 1932, c. 106, secs. 12, 13 [c]).

Fact that no remedy by appeal was provided by statute did not invalidate it, since it did not necessarily follow that injured party would have no remedy against any arbitrary action that might be taken by administrative agency.

14. Appeal and Error. — No question respecting collection and disposition of fines for violations of statute being presented, Court of Appeals could not consider request to construe such section of statute.

Appeal from Franklin Circuit Court.

LESLIE MORRIS for appellants.

BAILEY P. WOOTTON, Attorney General, and GARDNER K. BYERS, Assistant Attorney General, for appellees.

OPINION OF THE COURT BY JUDGE THOMAS.


Affirming.

These two consolidated actions, separately filed in the Franklin circuit court by the respective appellants, as plaintiffs below, against the State Tax Commission, its members, and other related administrative boards

Page 147

and their members, present the question of the constitutionality of chapter 106 of the Acts of 1932, which is on page 537 of the Session Acts for that year. Its title reads: "An act to further regulate motor-trucks, semi-trailer trucks, semi-trailers and trailers to enlarge the powers of the State Highway Commission, County Courts, and cities and incorporated towns in respect thereof, to provide for enforcement of the act and penalties for violation thereof, and repealing all laws inconsistent therewith," and from which it will be seen that it is confined to the regulation of the use on the public highways of the commonwealth of motortrucks carrying freight or merchandise, and has nothing to do with privately owned automobiles not so employed, nor to passenger busses which are operated on the public roads as carriers of passengers.

The plaintiff in the first case in the caption is strictly a common carrier, while the one in the second case is engaged in carrying its own freight or merchandise, and they each operate in both interstate and intrastate transportation. In their petitions they attack certain provisions of the statute upon the grounds (a) that they are arbitrary and confiscatory, and by reason of which plaintiffs, if subjected to the attacked provisions, would be deprived of their property without due process of law, and would also be deprived of the equal protection of the law contrary to provisions in the Federal Constitution (Amendment 14); and also upon ground (b) that section 12 and subsection (c) of section 13 of the act delegate legislative powers to the State Highway Commission and to the various county judges of the state in exercising supervision in the application of the provisions of the statute to state and county roads. Defendants by appropriate motions and pleadings combated each of those contentions, and upon submission the trial court denied the relief sought by plaintiffs in their petitions and dismissed them, and to reverse that judgment they prosecute this appeal.

The arguments in support of ground (a) are not recent or new ones, since it has become, especially in recent years, quite common for litigants to employ such "conventional methods of presenting constitutional questions" in efforts to nullify statutes when they (generally utilities companies) are restrained by the attacked statute from operating their business contrary

Page 148

to their unqualified desires; and in the majority of cases it is upon the theory either that the right of the particular regulation does not exist at all, or, if it does, that some one else is a better judge of the limitations imposed than is the Legislature. The attacked act defines motortrucks, trailers, and semi-trailers, and prescribes their maximum length, loaded weight, height, etc., and forbids altogether the use of a trailer "on any highway." The maximum load is 18,000 pounds; the maximum height is 11 1/2 feet; the maximum width is 96 inches. The maximum length of a motortruck alone is 26 1/2 feet, and of a semi-trailer truck not exceeding 30 feet. Other sections provide a limitation of speed as applicable to transportation both in and out of incorporate towns, and exempts certain trucks operating within...

To continue reading

Request your trial
5 practice notes
  • State v. Rhine, No. PD-0912-08.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • September 23, 2009
    ...Tomasic, 264 Kan. at 305, 955 P.2d at 1148-49 (consolidation of city and county operations); Ashland Transfer Co. v. State Tax Comm'n., 247 Ky. 144, 160-61, 56 S.W.2d 691, 698 (1932) (commercial traffic on public highways); All Pro Paint & Body Shop, 639 So.2d at 716-17 (hazardous waste......
  • Beshear v. Acree, 2020-SC-0313-OA
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • November 12, 2020
    ...upon such determination make expenditures from a fund appropriated for that purpose). See also Ashland Transfer Co. v. State Tax Comm. , 247 Ky. 144, 56 S.W.2d 691, 697 (1932) (upholding statute allowing highway commission and county judges to reduce load and speed limits for trucks or proh......
  • Johnson, Governor v. Commonwealth
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • August 26, 1942
    ...been vested in executive or administrative agencies and sustained as valid." See, also, Ashland Transfer Co. v. State Tax Commission, 247 Ky. 144, 56 S.W. (2d) 691, 87 A.L.R. 534; Spahn v. Stewart, 268 Ky. 97, 103 S.W. (2d) 651. Compare Bloemer v. Turner, 281 Ky. 832, 137 S.W. (2d) 387......
  • City of Louisville v. Louisville Automobile Club
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • March 27, 1942
    ...and which we conclude violates Page 250 no provision of State or Federal Constitutions. Ashland Transfer Co. v. State Tax Comm., 247 Ky. 144, 56 S.W. (2d) 691, 87 A.L.R. On defendants' appeal we find that the contract was attacked because of a lack of bidding, as it was claimed is provided ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • State v. Rhine, No. PD-0912-08.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • September 23, 2009
    ...Tomasic, 264 Kan. at 305, 955 P.2d at 1148-49 (consolidation of city and county operations); Ashland Transfer Co. v. State Tax Comm'n., 247 Ky. 144, 160-61, 56 S.W.2d 691, 698 (1932) (commercial traffic on public highways); All Pro Paint & Body Shop, 639 So.2d at 716-17 (hazardous waste......
  • Beshear v. Acree, 2020-SC-0313-OA
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • November 12, 2020
    ...upon such determination make expenditures from a fund appropriated for that purpose). See also Ashland Transfer Co. v. State Tax Comm. , 247 Ky. 144, 56 S.W.2d 691, 697 (1932) (upholding statute allowing highway commission and county judges to reduce load and speed limits for trucks or proh......
  • Johnson, Governor v. Commonwealth
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • August 26, 1942
    ...been vested in executive or administrative agencies and sustained as valid." See, also, Ashland Transfer Co. v. State Tax Commission, 247 Ky. 144, 56 S.W. (2d) 691, 87 A.L.R. 534; Spahn v. Stewart, 268 Ky. 97, 103 S.W. (2d) 651. Compare Bloemer v. Turner, 281 Ky. 832, 137 S.W. (2d) 387......
  • City of Louisville v. Louisville Automobile Club
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • March 27, 1942
    ...and which we conclude violates Page 250 no provision of State or Federal Constitutions. Ashland Transfer Co. v. State Tax Comm., 247 Ky. 144, 56 S.W. (2d) 691, 87 A.L.R. On defendants' appeal we find that the contract was attacked because of a lack of bidding, as it was claimed is provided ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT