California Highway Patrol v. Superior Court, H029406.

Citation70 Cal.Rptr.3d 280,158 Cal.App.4th 726
Decision Date04 January 2008
Docket NumberNo. H029406.,H029406.
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
PartiesCALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL, Petitioner, v. The SUPERIOR COURT of Santa Cruz County, Respondent; Richard J. Quigley, Real Party in Interest.

Bill Lockyer and Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Attorneys General, James M. Humes, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Jacob A. Appelsmith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Miguel A. Neri, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, Fiel D. Tigno, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, Karen Kiyo Huster, Deputy Attorney General, for Petitioner, California Highway Patrol.

Lascher & Lascher, Wendy Cole Lascher, Ventura, for Real Party in Interest, Richard J. Quigley.



Real party in interest Richard J. Quigley (Quigley) was given five citations by officers of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) for violating Vehicle Code section 27803, subdivision (b), which requires motorcycle drivers and their passengers to wear safety helmets.1 At a hearing on nine such violations, including the five CHP citations, the court ruled that the five CHP violations were correctable, that is, ones for which correction citations or "fix-it" tickets could be issued. At a sentencing hearing on January 24, 2005, the court reiterated its ruling and gave Quigley several weeks to correct the violations. It directed him to bring a helmet to the CHP, at which time the CHP would sign off on the citations. On May 20, 2005, the court issued an formal, written order, directing the CHP to sign off on certificates of correction for all five CHP infractions if and when Quigley presented to CHP a helmet "bearing a certification of compliance (the symbol `DOT')."2 Thereafter, the court issued an order directing the CHP to show cause why it should not be held in contempt for refusing to comply with its order. At a hearing on July 15, 2005, the court postponed ruling on whether to hold the CHP in contempt in order to give CHP an opportunity to challenge the order of May 20, 2005.

CHP now seeks a petition for a writ of mandate and/or prohibition, challenging the order. The CHP claims that Quigley's violations were not correctable, and therefore, the court erred in ordering it to sign off on the five citations.3

We agree that the court erred and issue a writ of mandate, directing the court to vacate its order.


On our own motion, we have taken judicial notice of an order filed on August 16, 2006, in which the superior court dismissed all five CHP citations on ground that the "helmet law statutes are void for vagueness, or otherwise unworkable, as applied...." (See Evid.Code, § 452, subd. (a).) However, dismissal of the underlying citations does not render the CHP's petition moot. Even though the CHP need not comply with the order to sign off on the citations, the CHP is still subject to contempt proceedings and a possible sanction for failing to obey the order before the citations were dismissed.

We also note that Mr. Quigley died on September 15, 2007. For the same reason that dismissal does not render the petition moot, Mr. Quigley's death does not do so either.


The CHP claims that as a matter of law, a violation of section 27803, subdivision (b) (hereafter section 27803(b)) is not a correctable Vehicle Code infraction.

Section 27803 provides, in relevant part, "(a) A driver and any passenger shall wear a safety helmet meeting requirements established pursuant to Section 27802 when riding on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle. [¶] (b) It is unlawful to operate a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle if the driver or any passenger is not wearing a safety helmet as required by subdivision (a). [H] ... [K] (e) For the purposes of this section, 'wear a safety helmet' or "wearing a safety helmet' means having a safety helmet meeting the requirements of Section 27802 on the person's head that is fastened with the helmet straps and that is of a size that fits the wearing person's head securely without excessive lateral or vertical movement. [H] ... [11] (g) In enacting this section, it is the intent of the Legislature to ensure that all persons are provided with an additional safety benefit while operating or riding a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle."4

Sections-40610 and 40303.5 list the types of Vehicle Code violations that potentially qualify as correctable offenses and specify the circumstances under which a "fix-it" ticket may be issued.

Section 40610 provides, in relevant part, "(a)(1) ... [I]f, after an arrest, accident investigation, or other law enforcement action, it appears that a violation has occurred involving a registration, license, allterrain vehicle safety certificate, or mechanical requirement of this code, and none of the disqualifying conditions set forth in subdivision (b) exist and the investigating officer decides to take enforcement action, the officer shall prepare, in triplicate, and the violator shall sign, a written notice containing the violator's promise to correct the alleged violation and to deliver proof of correction of the violation to the issuing agency .... [¶] ... [¶] (b) Pursuant to subdivision (a), a notice to correct violation shall be issued as provided in this section or a notice to appear shall be issued ..., unless the officer finds any of the following: [¶] (1) Evidence of fraud or persistent neglect. [¶] (2) The violation presents an immediate safety hazard. [¶] (3) The violator does not agree to, or cannot, promptly correct the violation."

Section 40303.5 provides, in relevant part, "Whenever any person is arrested for any of the following offenses, the arresting officer shall permit the arrested person to execute a notice containing a promise to correct the violation in accordance with the provisions of Section 40610 unless the arresting officer finds that any of the disqualifying conditions specified in subdivision (b) of Section 40610 .... [¶] ... [¶] (d) Any infraction involving equipment set forth in Division 12 (commencing with Section 21000), Division. 13 (commencing with Section 29000), Division 14.8 (commencing with Section 34500), Division 16 (commencing with Section 36000), Division 16.5 (commencing with Section 38000), and Division 16.7 (commencing with Section 39000)."5 (Italics added.)

The CHP claims a Helmet Law violation is not correctable under section 40610, subdivision (a)(1) because that subdivision applies only to violations that involve registration, licenses, all-terrain vehicle safety certificates, or mechanical requirements of the Vehicle Code. Thus, it does not apply to Helmet Law violations. (See Dyna-Med, Inc. v. Fair Employment & Housing Com. (1987) 43 Cal.3d 1379, 1391, fn. 13, 241 Cal.Rptr. 67, 743 P.2d 1323 [the expression of certain things in a statute necessarily involves exclusion of other things not expressed].)

The CHP acknowledges, however, that section 40610 is not the only statute that makes Vehicle Code infractions correctable. As noted, section 40303.5 authorizes "fix-it" tickets for "[a]ny infraction involving equipment set forth in Division 12 (commencing with Section 24000) ...." (§ 40303.5, subd. (d).) Although a violation of the Helmet Law is an infraction (see § 40000.1) and part of Division 12, the CHP argues that section 40303.5 cannot reasonably be construed to apply to all equipment violations, especially to Helmet Law violations, because such an interpretation "flies in the face of common sense" and "would yield an absurd result." 6

Our fundamental task in construing a statute is to ascertain the intent of the lawmakers so as to effectuate the purpose of the statute. (In re Harris (1993) 5 Cal.4th 813, 844, 21 Cal.Rptr.2d 373, 855 P.2d 391.) We begin by examining the statutory language, giving the words their usual and ordinary meaning. If we find no ambiguity, we presume that the Legislature meant what it said, and the plain meaning of the language governs. (Day v. City of Fontana (2001) 25 Cal.4th 268, 272, 105 Cal.Rptr.2d 457, 19 P.3d 1196.) If, on the other hand, the statutory language is unclear or ambiguous and permits more than one reasonable interpretation, we may consider various extrinsic aids to help us ascertain the Legislature's intent, including legislative history, public policy, settled rules of statutory construction, and an examination of the evils to be remedied and the legislative scheme encompassing the statute in question. (Ibid.; People v. Garrett (2001) 92 Cal.App.4th 1417, 1422, 112 Cal.Rptr.2d 643.) In such circumstances, we select the interpretation that comports most closely with the apparent intent of the Legislature, with a view toward promoting, rather than defeating, the general purpose of the statute and avoiding an interpretation that would lead to absurd consequences. (People v. Walker (2002) 29 Cal.4th 577, 581, 128 Cal.Rptr.2d 75, 59 P.3d 150.)

Section 40303.5 makes correctable "[a]ny infraction involving equipment" set forth in Divisions 12, 13, 14.8, 16, 16.5, and 16.7 of the Vehicle Code. We presume that when the Legislature enacted section 40303.5, it was aware of the statutes in each of these divisions and the wide variety of equipment they regulate. (See People v. Harrison (1989) 48 Cal.3d 321, 329, 256 Cal. Rptr. 401, 768 P.2d 1078; Bailey v. Superior Court (1977) 19 Cal.3d 970, 977, fn. 10, 140 Cal.Rptr. 669, 568 P.2d 394.) Indeed, the inclusion of certain divisions and the exclusion of others—e.g., Divisions 14.1 [transporting explosives], 14.3 [transporting inhalation hazards], 14.5 [transporting radioactive materials], 14.7 [transporting flammable liquids], 14.9 [motor vehicle damage control], and 15 [size, weight, and load]—indicates not only an awareness of the various statutes but also a purposeful and selective approach deciding which infractions should be potentially correctable.

We further observe that the ordinary...

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