Collins v. Director of Revenue, Nos. 66788

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtGUNN; RENDLEN; WELLIVER, J., dissents and concurs in separate dissenting opinion of RENDLEN; RENDLEN
PartiesLester R. COLLINS, Appellant, v. DIRECTOR OF REVENUE, State of Missouri, Respondent. Naomi L. JOHNSON, Appellant, v. DIRECTOR OF REVENUE and State of Missouri, Respondents.
Docket NumberNos. 66788,66790
Decision Date29 May 1985

Page 246

691 S.W.2d 246
Lester R. COLLINS, Appellant,
v.
DIRECTOR OF REVENUE, State of Missouri, Respondent.
Naomi L. JOHNSON, Appellant,
v.
DIRECTOR OF REVENUE and State of Missouri, Respondents.
Nos. 66788, 66790.
Supreme Court of Missouri,
En Banc.
May 29, 1985.
Rehearing Denied June 25, 1985.

Page 249

Leonard Breon, Andrew J. Gelbach, Warrensburg, for appellants.

Richard L. Wieler, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, David A. Dolph, Dept. of Revenue, Kansas City, Sharon M. Busch, Ninion S. Riley, Missouri Dept. of Revenue, Jefferson City, for respondents.

Robert G. Duncan, Kansas City, Robert C. Welch, Independence, for amicus curiae.

GUNN, Judge.

This is a consolidated appeal of two individuals, each arrested for driving while intoxicated and served with notice of license suspension, pursuant to § 302.520, RSMo Cum.Supp.1983. Both suspensions were upheld in subsequent administrative hearings and trials de novo in circuit court. We accepted transfer from the Western District Court of Appeals and have consolidated the two cases to facilitate the resolution of the issues which raise constitutional challenges to the license suspension procedures set forth in §§ 302.500-.540, RSMo Cum.Supp.1983. 1

We affirm the suspensions.

Both appellants assert that the statutory scheme for the summary suspension of driving privileges is violative of the equal protection clauses of the constitutions of the United States and Missouri, 2 in that the procedure applies only to persons arrested for state offenses and only to those intoxicated persons found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of thirteen-hundredths of one percent or greater (.13 percent).

Appellants also present several evidentiary matters. They contend that the state failed to prove that the arresting officers had probable cause to believe that appellants possessed a BAC of at least .13 percent at the time of the arrest, as allegedly required by § 302.505. And they assert that there was no sufficient foundation for the breathalyzer examination test results. They also argue that the state failed to present any evidence that the appellants were adequately informed of their rights to refuse the breathalyzer examination and of the attendant consequences of their refusal or submission.

Individually, appellant Collins submits that he was denied his right of discovery when the trial court refused to grant a continuance. Appellant Johnson claims that she was denied her right of cross-examination at her administrative hearing when the hearing officer merely took judicial notice of the agency case file and heard no testimony. She also contends that the evidence contained in the agency case file consisted of closed records which were inadmissible.

I.

Appellants first challenge the constitutionality of §§ 302.500-.540 on an equal protection basis. They assert that the summary suspension procedure outlined in these statutes arbitrarily singles out persons arrested for violating state drunk driving laws because violators of comparable county and municipal ordinances are

Page 250

not subject to automatic suspension of their licenses. They also contend that the separate classification for persons with a BAC of .13 percent or greater is arbitrary and capricious in view of the legislative presumption that persons with a BAC of at least .10 percent are intoxicated. 3

When a law or a series of statutes is assailed as unconstitutional, the initial inquiry is the proper standard of review. Appellants do not urge that the challenged statutes infringe upon fundamental rights or create a suspect classification. Accordingly, to determine whether the statutory classification set forth in §§ 302.500-.540 violates the strictures of the equal protection clauses, we need only examine whether the statutes bear any rational relationship to a legitimate state interest. State Board of Registration for the Healing Arts v. Giffen, 651 S.W.2d 475, 480 (Mo. banc 1983). Moreover, appellants carry the burden of demonstrating that the law does not rest upon any reasonable basis but is essentially arbitrary. Lindsley v. Natural Carbonic Gas Co., 220 U.S. 61, 78-79, 31 S.Ct. 337, 340-341 55 L.Ed. 396 (1911); State v. Mitchell, 563 S.W.2d 18, 23 (Mo. banc 1978). And if any state of facts reasonably can be conceived which would sustain the laws in question, that state of facts is assumed. Id.

Appellants do not deny that the challenged statutes have a legitimate state interest, in that the laws are designed to prevent the slaughter on our highways which might occur if intoxicated persons were permitted to drive. They urge, however, that because not all intoxicated drivers are subject to expedited review and administrative suspension of their licenses, the statutory classification is not rationally related to this state objective. We note that there is no constitutional mandate that every law reach every classification to which it might apply. "[A] legislature need not 'strike at all evils at the same time' ... and 'reform may take one step at a time, addressing itself to the phase of the problem which seems most acute to the legislative mind.' " Katzenbach v. Morgan, 384 U.S. 641, 656-57, 86 S.Ct. 1717, 1726-27, 16 L.Ed.2d 828 (1966) (quoting Williamson v. Lee Optical Co., 348 U.S. 483, 489, 75 S.Ct. 461, 465, 99 L.Ed. 563 (1955)).

Potential harm exists whether the intoxicated driver possesses a BAC of .10 percent or .13 percent, even though BAC affects different people in different ways. It is also clear that the proportion of people whose driving ability is impaired and the extent of that impairment rises with increasing blood-alcohol levels. Gray, Attorney's Textbook of Medicine, 3d ed., p 133.52(4) (1969). Thus, there exists some "reasonable basis" for the legislative classification; and though the classification may be arguably imperfect, it does not constitute an impermissible denial of equal protection. Crane v. Riehn, 568 S.W.2d 525, 530 (Mo. banc 1978).

Likewise, appellants have failed to demonstrate that the challenged statutes are unconstitutional because they differentiate between state law offenders and violators of local ordinances. We do not sit as a "super legislature" to rule on the wisdom of this and other legislative determinations which result in disparate treatment but do not affect fundamental rights. New Orleans v. Dukes, 427 U.S. 297, 303, 96 S.Ct. 2513, 2516, 49 L.Ed.2d 511 (1976); American Motorcyclist Association v. City of St. Louis, 622 S.W.2d 267, 270 (Mo.App.1981). It is sufficient that the legislative distinction is not clearly arbitrary and unreasonable. State v. Ewing, 518 S.W.2d 643, 646 (Mo.1975). It is not unreasonable in this instance.

II.

The first of the appellants' evidentiary contentions of error requires the Court to

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construe § 302.505.1. That provision reads as follows:

The department shall suspend the license of any person upon its determination that the person was arrested upon probable cause to believe he was driving a motor vehicle while the alcohol concentration in the person's blood or breath was thirteen-hundredths of one percent or more by weight of alcohol in his blood, based on the definition of alcohol concentration in section 302.500.

The appellants adopt a literal interpretation and contend that this statute requires the state to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the arresting officer, at the exact moment of the arrest, had probable cause to believe the suspect was driving a motor vehicle while the alcohol concentration in his or her breath was at least .13 percent. Each appellant states that there was no evidence in their trials de novo which indicated that the arresting officers possessed the requisite probable cause. Therefore, they contend that the suspension of the driving privileges must be reversed on the basis of insufficient evidence.

The cardinal rule of statutory construction requires the court to ascertain the true intention of the legislature, giving reasonable interpretation in light of legislative objective. BCI Corporation v. Charlebois Construction Co., 673 S.W.2d 774, 780 (Mo. banc 1984). In determining the legislature's intention, the provisions of the entire legislative act must be construed together, and if reasonably possible, all the provisions must be harmonized. Bartley v. Special School District of St. Louis County, 649 S.W.2d 864, 867 (Mo. banc 1983).

In applying these precepts, we first examine § 302.510.1. That statute prescribes that the arresting officer is to submit a verified report to the Department of Revenue if the offending driver has a BAC of at least .13 percent. In the verified report, the arresting officer is to forward a copy of the breathalyzer test results and state his or her "grounds for belief that the person violated section 577.010, [driving while intoxicated] or 577.012 [driving with excessive blood alcohol content]...."

This provision is significant in determining the meaning of § 302.505, because it indicates the legislature's intent that the only probable cause required of the arresting officer is that which is necessary to effect the initial arrest under § 577.010 or § 577.012, RSMo Cum.Supp.1984. The Department's determination on the suspension of driving privileges is to be based upon the...

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113 practice notes
  • Parmley v. Missouri Dental Bd., No. 67690
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • November 18, 1986
    ...construction is to ascertain the true intent of the legislature and to construe the statute accordingly. Collins v. Director of Revenue, 691 S.W.2d 246, 251 (Mo. banc 1985); King v. Laclede Gas Co., 648 S.W.2d 113, 115 (Mo. banc 1983). In doing so, the words or phrases should be considered ......
  • Endsley v. Director of Revenue
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • September 21, 1999
    ...purpose, 'to expeditiously remove the most dangerous drunk drivers from Missouri roadways.'" Id. (quoting Collins v. Director of Revenue, 691 S.W.2d 246, 252 (Mo. banc 1985)). In Young, the police officer filled out the report on unofficial forms not prescribed by the division of health. 83......
  • Associated Industries of Missouri v. State Tax Com'n of Missouri, No. 68671
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • January 8, 1987
    ...of a decedent not survived by a parent have two years in which to bring suit, held constitutional); Collins v. Director of Revenue, 691 S.W.2d 246 (Mo. banc 1985) (summary license suspension statute which allows for conviction of violators of drunk driving laws with blood alcohol content of......
  • Callier v. Director of Revenue, State of Mo., No. 71414
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • December 12, 1989
    ...it. Belton v. Board of Police Com'rs, 708 S.W.2d 131, 139 (Mo. banc 1986) (citations omitted). See also Collins v. Director of Revenue, 691 S.W.2d 246 (Mo. banc 1985); Simpson v. Kilcher, 749 S.W.2d at 392; Winston v. Reorganized Sch. Dist. R-2, Etc., 636 S.W.2d 324 (Mo. banc 1982). It is o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
113 cases
  • Parmley v. Missouri Dental Bd., No. 67690
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • November 18, 1986
    ...construction is to ascertain the true intent of the legislature and to construe the statute accordingly. Collins v. Director of Revenue, 691 S.W.2d 246, 251 (Mo. banc 1985); King v. Laclede Gas Co., 648 S.W.2d 113, 115 (Mo. banc 1983). In doing so, the words or phrases should be considered ......
  • Endsley v. Director of Revenue
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • September 21, 1999
    ...purpose, 'to expeditiously remove the most dangerous drunk drivers from Missouri roadways.'" Id. (quoting Collins v. Director of Revenue, 691 S.W.2d 246, 252 (Mo. banc 1985)). In Young, the police officer filled out the report on unofficial forms not prescribed by the division of health. 83......
  • Associated Industries of Missouri v. State Tax Com'n of Missouri, No. 68671
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • January 8, 1987
    ...of a decedent not survived by a parent have two years in which to bring suit, held constitutional); Collins v. Director of Revenue, 691 S.W.2d 246 (Mo. banc 1985) (summary license suspension statute which allows for conviction of violators of drunk driving laws with blood alcohol content of......
  • Callier v. Director of Revenue, State of Mo., No. 71414
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • December 12, 1989
    ...it. Belton v. Board of Police Com'rs, 708 S.W.2d 131, 139 (Mo. banc 1986) (citations omitted). See also Collins v. Director of Revenue, 691 S.W.2d 246 (Mo. banc 1985); Simpson v. Kilcher, 749 S.W.2d at 392; Winston v. Reorganized Sch. Dist. R-2, Etc., 636 S.W.2d 324 (Mo. banc 1982). It is o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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