McGlothlen v. Department of Motor Vehicles

Decision Date27 July 1977
Citation71 Cal.App.3d 1005,140 Cal.Rptr. 168
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
PartiesRalph McGLOTHEN, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES, State of California, Defendant and Appellant. Charles Siebe SCALLY, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES, State of California, Defendant and Appellant. Oliver MEDEIROS, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES, State of California, Defendant and Appellant. Clayton James HURT, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES, State of California, Defendant and Appellant. Civ. 38438, 39690--39692.

Nancy Sevitch, Law Offices of Stephen Adams, San Francisco, Thomas L. Gill, Favaro & Lavezzo, Vallejo, Franklin Taft, Taft & Taft, Vallejo, Elisabeth Semel, Deputy Public Defender, Fairfield, for respondents McGlothen, Scally, Medeiros and Hurt.

Evelle J. Younger, Atty. Gen., Victor D. Sonenberg, Deputy Atty. Gen., San Francisco, for defendant-appellant.

SIMS, Acting Presiding Justice.

In each of these consolidated appeals the Department of Motor Vehicles has appealed from a judgment of the superior court which granted the respective petitioner's petition and ordered the department and the municipal court, in which each of the petitioners had suffered a second conviction of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor (Veh.Code, § 23102), to refrain from revoking the petitioner's drivers license (cf. Id., § 13352, subd. (c)) for so long as the petitioner participated successfully in the Solano County Rehabilitation Program. The trial court thereby awarded each of the petitioners the benefits of sections 13201.5 1 and 13352.5 2 of the Vehicle Code despite the fact that Solano County was not one of the counties approved for the demonstration program authorized by the Legislature for the calendar years 1976 and 1977, pursuant to subdivision (b) of section 13201.5. The petitioners argued below in their consolidated cases, and the trial court in a scholarly opinion concluded that the restriction of the application of the provisions of sections 13201.5 to four or fewer counties as provided in subsection (b) was special or local legislation in violation of section 16 of article IV of the California Constitution 3 and denial of equal protection of the laws and a grant of special provileges and immunities in violation of section 7 of article I of that Constitution. 4 The court also concluded that it was appropriate to correct the classification it found to be discriminatory by invalidating the restriction to four or fewer counties and by extending the statutory benefits to those whom it deemed the Legislature had unconstitutionally excluded.

On appeal the department urges that the limitation of an experimental program affecting public safety to four demonstration counties does not result in a denial of equal protection of the laws under either federal or state constitutional provisions. It points out that since the judgments were entered in the foregoing cases (Apr. 14, 1976), the provisions of the controversial section have been upheld as against the contention that they denied a defendant, convicted of multiple violations of section 23102 in a nondemonstration county, equal protection of the laws. (Department of Motor Vehicles v. Superior Court (Hardin) (June, 9, 1976) 58 Cal.App.3d 936, 130 Cal.Rptr. 311 (hg. den. Aug. 4, 1976).) The department fails to directly meet petitioners' alternative constitutional argument. Nevertheless for reasons set forth below, we find that the trial court erred in concluding petitioners were entitled to the benefit of the provisions of the section. The judgments must be reversed.

Respondent-petitioners agree that the following facts are undisputed:

(1) Each of the respondents have suffered multiple drunk driving convictions.

(2) Solano County has an operative alcoholic rehabilitation program.

(3) Solano County was not one of the four demonstration counties selected for the two-year experimental period by the Office of Alcoholism pursuant to section 13201.5, subdivision (b).

(4) It is this confining of the operation of the statute to four counties during the two-year experimental period which the respondents challenged as a denial of equal protection under the state and federal Constitutions.

They insist, however, that this court must limit consideration of the constitutional issue of classification under equal protection principles to the question of whether lack of funding was a rational basis for the discrimination resulting from the demonstration program as enacted and implemented; 5 and they further contend that this court should disregard and refuse to take judicial notice of matters in reports before the Legislature at the time the section was adopted. For reasons set forth below we reject those arguments.

I

A representative of the State Office of Alcoholism testified as to the procedure followed by the former office of program management in selecting the demonstration counties. (See fn. 5.) After testifying that Solano County was not one of the approved programs, he volunteered that the operation of the detoxification facilities for inebriates authorized by sections 5170--5176 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, and referred to in section 647, subdivision (ff) of the Penal Code (see People v. McNaught (1973) 31 Cal.App.3d 599, 107 Cal.Rptr. 566 and People v. Superior Court (Colon) (1973) 29 Cal.App.3d 397, 105 Cal.Rptr. 695), took $9,000,000 of a $27,000,000 budget for programs under the jurisdiction of the office. He then pointed out that there was no state money appropriated to operate the program under the Vehicle Code and so it would have to be entirely self-financed, and that one of the problems involved in the program is the expense of furnishing the required services to indigents and those unable to pay the full cost. The court then cut short further inquiry.

The department, however, did not rest on the lack of state funding for a rational explanation of the resulting divergence between the treatment to be received in 54 of the 58 counties. The department's attorney had already disclaimed such a basis when testimony was elicited from a representative of the Solano County Department of Mental Health concerning the manner in which the costs of the program might be met. He stated, 'Your Honor, our argument is that it's not the fact that it's going to cost too much, because it's going to cost that much in two years. Our argument is that they want--before they expend money, before they turn these people loose on the public, as it were, they want to make a rational selection of the correct program to implement throughout the State.'

There is no merit in the contention that the department may not show any other rational basis for the special classification.

II

In a memorandum of points and authorities attached to its return the department pointed out that the statute by its terms limited the application of the program '. . . in order to determine which types of programs can most effectively provide for treatment of persons convicted of' driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or the combined influence of intoxicating liquor and any drug; and that the then Office of Alcohol Program Management was mandated to approve several types of programs in four or fewer counties deemed most appropriate in order to prepare for effective implementation statewide. The department pointed out that it was prudent and reasonable to determine how the newly proposed regulatory procedure would work before applying it statewide. The district attorney likewise stressed the experimental nature of the program for the years 1976 and 1977.

The department attached to its trial brief a copy of a letter promulgated by the author of SB 330 which was enacted into the amendments here under review. According to him the four-county project was 'designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of various kinds of programs.' It is questionable whether that letter has any probative effect or may be resorted to in any way to determine the interpretation or basis for the enactment. In re Marriage of Bouquet (1976) 16 Cal.3d 583, 128 Cal.Rptr. 427, 546 P.2d 1371, tells us, 'In construing a statute we do not consider the motives or understandings of individual legislators who cast their votes in favor of it. (Citations.) Nor do we carve an exception to this principle simply because the legislator whose motives are proferred actually authored the bill in controversy (citation); no guarantee can issue that those who supported his proposal shared his view of its compass. The understandings of (the author), then, do not per se expose the Legislature's intent.' (16 Cal.3d at pp. 589--590, 128 Cal.Rptr. at p. 430, 546 P.2d at p. 1374.)

In the case last cited the court, however, considered the letter for two reasons. First, as an account of the debate which itself could properly be considered, and secondly, because it had been made part of the records of the Legislature, even though that act was taken following passage of the legislation. (Id., at pp. 589--590, 128 Cal.Rptr. 457, 546 P.2d 1371.) It is well established that the courts may take judicial notice not only of the statutory law of this state (Evid.Code, § 451(a)), but also of the resolutions and private acts of the Legislature of this state, and, as well, the official acts of the executive departments and Legislature (Id., § 452(a) and (c)). The Law Revision Committee Comment to section 450 of the Evidence Code expressly recognizes: 'Under the Evidence Code, as under existing law, courts may consider whatever materials are appropriate in construing statutes, determining constitutional issues, and formulating rules of law. That a court may consider legislative history, discussions by learned writers in treatises and law reviews,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
46 cases
  • Sagaser v. McCarthy
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • January 2, 1986
    ...A local or special statute is invalid in any case if a general statute can be made applicable." McGlothlen v. Department of Motor Vehicles (1977) 71 Cal.App.3d 1005, 1022-1026, 140 Cal.Rptr. 168, provides a good general discussion of California Constitution article IV, section 16. Quoting f......
  • People v. McGreen
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • June 26, 1980
    ...Court of Appeal may decline to follow the prior decisions of another district or division (see McGlothlen v. Department of Motor Vehicles (1977) 71 Cal.App.3d 1005, 1017, 140 Cal.Rptr. 168), trial courts are bound by decisions of the Courts of Appeal. (Auto Equity Sales, Inc. v. Superior Co......
  • Hiatt v. City of Berkeley
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • March 29, 1982
    ...Amendment (Serrano v. Priest (1971) 5 Cal.3d 584, 596, fn. 11, 96 Cal.Rptr. 601, 487 P.2d 1241; McGlothlen v. Department of Motor Vehicles (1977) 71 Cal.App.3d 1005, 140 Cal.Rptr. 168), accord any person the equal protection of the laws in plain and unequivocal language and without qualific......
  • Hiatt v. City of Berkeley
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • September 25, 1978
    ...Amendment (Serrano v. Priest (1971) 5 Cal.3d 584, 596, fn. 11, 96 Cal.Rptr. 601, 487 P.2d 1241; McGlothlen v. Department of Motor Vehicles (1977) 71 Cal.App.3d 1005, 140 Cal.Rptr. 168), accord any person the equal protection of the laws in plain and unequivocal language and without qualific......
  • 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