People v. Carmichael

CourtNew York Court of Special Sessions
Writing for the CourtRICHARD D. YUNKER
Citation53 Misc.2d 584,279 N.Y.S.2d 272
Decision Date26 April 1967
PartiesPEOPLE of the State of New York, Plaintiff, v. Donald J. CARMICHAEL, Defendant.

Page 272

279 N.Y.S.2d 272
53 Misc.2d 584
PEOPLE of the State of New York, Plaintiff,
v.
Donald J. CARMICHAEL, Defendant.
Court of Special Sessions, Town of Oakfield, Genesee County.
April 26, 1967.

Page 273

Ernest M. Found, Dist. Atty., for the People.

Donald J. Carmichael, in pro. per.

DECISION

RICHARD D. YUNKER, Justice of the Peace.

The defendant was charged with violation of Section 381 subd. 6 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law in that he operated a motorcycle without a protective helmet on February 15, 1967 in the Town of Oakfield, Genesee County, New York. The defendant appeared in court to answer the charge and raised the issue that the Subdivision of the Statute under which he was charged is unconstitutional.

Subdivision 6 of Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 381, designated 'Motorcycle Equipment' reads as follows:

'It shall be unlawful, on and after January first, ninetten hundred sixty-seven, for any person to operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he wears a protective helmet of a type approved by the commissioner. Such a helmet must be equipped with either a neck or chin strap and be reflectorized on both sides thereof. The commissioner is hereby authorized and empowered to adopt [53 Misc.2d 585] and amend regulations covering the types of helmets and the specifications therefor and to establish and maintain a list of approved helmets which meet the specifications as established hereunder.'

It is appearent that the purpose of this statute is the protection of the person who is required to wear the helmet. The statute does require that the helmet be reflectorized and this could be considered a means to make the wearer more easily visible to other persons using the highway and thus a safety device for the benefit of all users of the highway. However, this Statute requires such marking on a protective helmet and it requires the wearing of the protective helmet. A requirement that reflectorized markings be worn upon the head of the operator is quite different

Page 274

from the requirement that the operator wear a protective helmet with reflectorized markings. It is apparent that the design of the statute is to protect the person wearing the helmet by preventing head injuries among motorcyclists who are involved in accidents. That the protective helmet required by the statute is also required to be reflectorized is only incidental to the requirement that a protective helmet be worn; it is only a description of the type of protective helmet to be worn.

Many requirements concerning equipment for vehicles that are used upon the highway are imposed by law. For instance, it is common knowledge that vehicles operated in the hours of darkness are required, not only by common sense, but also by law to have suitable head lights and tail lights. However, the requirement of the statute now challenged is unique in that so far as use of highways is involved it affects only the safety of the person who is required to wear the protective helmet. It is obvious that the requirement for head lights and tail lights will make the highways safer for other users of the highway. However, it cannot be argued that the motorcyclist who does not wear a protective helmet has any different effect upon the safety of other users of the highway than a motorcyclist who does wear a helmet.

The question then is whether the state can by such a statute require a motorcyclist to wear a protective helmet for the purpose of protecting himself from injury. Two issues can be distinguished. One issue is whether this particular statute here challenged is definite enough to sustain a criminal conviction. The other issue is whether the government has power to require a motorcycle operator or any other person to wear a protective helmet to protect himself, even if by a statute sufficiently definite to sustain a criminal conviction. This other issue would be presented by any statute requiring all persons to wear protective [53 Misc.2d 586] helmets and seatbelts while operating a motor vehicle or by any statute requiring all persons to refrain from smoking.

It has been questioned whether a Court of Special Sessions should presume to declare a statute invalid. It is contended that such a serious step should be taken only by an Appellate Court, and further that if it is taken by a Court of Special Sessions, there may arise a situation where the law will be interpreted differently in different townships in the same county. The contention that the defendant should be required to appeal to county court to have this issue decided because the question is serious and because a county court decision would make the same interpretation binding in all the townships of the county is plausible. The weight of these statements is appreciated. The reported cases show a split of authority as to whether or not an inferior tribunal should pass upon the validity of a statute. 8 N.Y.Jur. Constitutional Law...

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15 practice notes
  • Ravin v. State, No. 2135
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alaska (US)
    • May 27, 1975
    ...446, 250 N.E.2d 149 (1969). See Everhardt v. New Orleans, 208 So.2d 423 (La.App.1968), rev'd, 217 So.2d 400 (1969); People v. Carmichael, 53 Misc.2d 584, 279 N.Y.S.2d 272 (1967), rev'd, 56 Misc.2d 388, 288 N.Y.S.2d 931 60 51 Haw. 516, 465 P.2d 573 (1970). 61 Similarly, in State v. Kantner, ......
  • Bogue v. Faircloth, No. 70-501-Civ.-CF.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • July 30, 1970
    ...55 Misc.2d 1064, 287 N.Y.S.2d 713 (City Ct.1968); People v. Carmichael, 56 Misc.2d 388, 288 N.Y.S.2d 931 (County Ct.1968), rev'ing 53 Misc.2d 584, 279 N.Y.S.2d 272 (Sp.Sess.1967); People v. Bielmeyer, 54 Misc.2d 466, 282 N.Y.S.2d 797 (City CONCLUSION Florida Statute § 317.981 is not legisla......
  • State v. Fetterly
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oregon
    • July 25, 1969
    ...353, 247 A.2d 176 (Hudson Co.Ct. 1968); People v. Carmichael, 56 Misc.2d 388, 288 N.Y.S.2d 931 (Genesee Co.Ct. 1968), reversing 53 Misc.2d 584, 279 N.Y.S.2d 272 (Sp.Sess.Ct. 1967); People v. Newhouse, 55 Misc.2d 1064, 287 N.Y.S.2d 713 (Ithaca City Ct. Page 998 1968); People v. Beilmeyer, 54......
  • People v. Carmichael
    • United States
    • New York County Court
    • February 29, 1968
    ...Town of Oakfield and on April 26, 1967 Town Justice, Richard D. Yunker, held the statute unconstitutional and dismissed the information. (53 Misc.2d 584, 279 N.Y.S.2d 272) The People now appeal to this Court. The Defendant appeared at the hearing on this appeal but did not participate in pe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
15 cases
  • Ravin v. State, No. 2135
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alaska (US)
    • May 27, 1975
    ...446, 250 N.E.2d 149 (1969). See Everhardt v. New Orleans, 208 So.2d 423 (La.App.1968), rev'd, 217 So.2d 400 (1969); People v. Carmichael, 53 Misc.2d 584, 279 N.Y.S.2d 272 (1967), rev'd, 56 Misc.2d 388, 288 N.Y.S.2d 931 60 51 Haw. 516, 465 P.2d 573 (1970). 61 Similarly, in State v. Kantner, ......
  • Bogue v. Faircloth, No. 70-501-Civ.-CF.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • July 30, 1970
    ...55 Misc.2d 1064, 287 N.Y.S.2d 713 (City Ct.1968); People v. Carmichael, 56 Misc.2d 388, 288 N.Y.S.2d 931 (County Ct.1968), rev'ing 53 Misc.2d 584, 279 N.Y.S.2d 272 (Sp.Sess.1967); People v. Bielmeyer, 54 Misc.2d 466, 282 N.Y.S.2d 797 (City CONCLUSION Florida Statute § 317.981 is not legisla......
  • State v. Fetterly
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oregon
    • July 25, 1969
    ...353, 247 A.2d 176 (Hudson Co.Ct. 1968); People v. Carmichael, 56 Misc.2d 388, 288 N.Y.S.2d 931 (Genesee Co.Ct. 1968), reversing 53 Misc.2d 584, 279 N.Y.S.2d 272 (Sp.Sess.Ct. 1967); People v. Newhouse, 55 Misc.2d 1064, 287 N.Y.S.2d 713 (Ithaca City Ct. Page 998 1968); People v. Beilmeyer, 54......
  • People v. Carmichael
    • United States
    • New York County Court
    • February 29, 1968
    ...Town of Oakfield and on April 26, 1967 Town Justice, Richard D. Yunker, held the statute unconstitutional and dismissed the information. (53 Misc.2d 584, 279 N.Y.S.2d 272) The People now appeal to this Court. The Defendant appeared at the hearing on this appeal but did not participate in pe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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