People v. Weatherill, No. B042229

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtFRED WOODS; JOHNSON
Citation264 Cal.Rptr. 298,215 Cal.App.3d 1569
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. William Troy WEATHERILL, Defendant and Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. B042229
Decision Date28 November 1989

Page 298

264 Cal.Rptr. 298
215 Cal.App.3d 1569
The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
William Troy WEATHERILL, Defendant and Appellant.
No. B042229.
Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 7, California.
Nov. 28, 1989.
Review Denied March 15, 1990.

[215 Cal.App.3d 1570]

Page 299

Dennis A. Fischer, Santa Monica, and Alan S. Yockelson, Escondido, for defendant and appellant.

[215 Cal.App.3d 1571] James K. Hahn, City Atty., William N. Sterling, Deputy City Atty., Supervisor Appellate Section, and Peter W. Mason, Deputy City Atty., for plaintiff and respondent.

FRED WOODS, Associate Justice.

Do VEHICLE CODE SECTIONS 232021 and 23206, which prohibit diversion "in any" driving under the influence case, make an exception for a developmentally disabled defendant? Our answer is no.

PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On October 22, 1986, defendant was charged with misdemeanor violations of section 23152, subdivision (a), driving under the influence of alcohol, and section 23152, subdivision (b), driving with .10 percent alcohol in his blood. As to both counts it was alleged that he had suffered a 1984 conviction of section 23152, subdivision (a).

At his arraignment, defendant's counsel moved for diversion pursuant to Penal Code section 1001.21 which provides:

"(a) This chapter shall apply whenever a case is before any court upon an accusatory pleading at any stage of the criminal proceedings, for any person who has been evaluated by a regional center for the developmentally disabled and who is determined to be developmentally disabled by such regional center, and who therefore is eligible for its services. [p ] (b) This chapter applies to any offense which is charged as or reduced to a misdemeanor, except that diversion shall not be ordered when the defendant previously has been diverted under this chapter within two years prior to the present criminal proceedings."

A Mr. John R. Lewis, present at the arraignment, indicated to the court that he was a social worker from the Lanterman Regional Center 2 and that defendant had been diagnosed developmentally disabled. Mr. Lewis further informed the court that the regional center was not residential nor even out-patient but merely "managed" cases of developmentally disabled persons.

After several continuances, defendant's diversion motion was heard on March 9, 1987. The court denied the motion, ruling that Penal Code section 1001.21 is inapplicable when a defendant is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

[215 Cal.App.3d 1572] Defendant sought to overturn this ruling by his petition to the superior court for a writ of mandate. Superior Court Judge Jack M. Newman denied the petition. Defendant then filed a petition for a writ of mandate with the Court of Appeal. Division Four of this Court denied the writ.

On November 13, 1987, defendant waived jury. By agreement, his court trial consisted of the submission into evidence of his arrest report and a stipulation concerning his blood alcohol reading, .24 percent. The court found the defendant guilty as charged and found the alleged prior driving under the influence of alcohol conviction true. As part of a plea-sentence agreement the court placed defendant on three years summary, not formal, probation subject to various conditions including attending 24 Alcoholic Anonymous meetings through the Lanterman Regional Center and the payment of any civil judgment arising from this case. 3 Count 2, section 23152, subdivision (b), was dismissed.

On April 25, 1989, the appellate department of the superior court filed and certified for publication their unanimous opinion affirming the judgment of conviction.

Page 300

On May 31, 1989, pursuant to rule 62(a), California Rules of Court, we ordered the matter transferred to this court to secure uniformity of decision and to settle important questions of law.

DISCUSSION

Plain meaning of section 23202

Central to our discussion is section 23202 and its prohibition against diversion. By forbidding any stay in proceedings, the essential mechanism for any diversion program, it precludes diversion in any driving under the influence case. The section provides:

"(a) In any case in which a person is charged with a violation of Section 23152 or 23153, prior to acquittal or conviction, the court shall not suspend or stay the proceedings for the purpose of allowing the accused person to attend or participate, nor shall the court consider dismissal of or entertain a motion to dismiss the proceedings because the accused person attends or participates during that suspension, in any one or more education, training, or treatment programs, including, but not limited to, a driver improvement program, a treatment program for persons who are habitual users of alcohol or other alcoholism program, a program designed to offer alcohol services to problem drinkers, an alcohol or drug education program, or a treatment program for persons who are [215 Cal.App.3d 1573] habitual users of drugs or other drug-related program. [p ] (b) This section shall not apply to any attendance or participation in any education, training, or treatment programs after conviction and sentencing, including attendance or participation in any of those programs as a condition of probation granted after conviction when permitted pursuant to this article."

Although section 23202 applies only "prior to acquittal or conviction," section 23206, subdivision (a) 4 imposes a similar post conviction constraint.

In ascertaining the meaning of section 23202 we begin with the cardinal rule of all statutory construction: "The fundamental rule is that a court should ascertain the intent of the Legislature so as to effectuate the law's purpose and in determining intent the court first turns to the words used." (People v. Overstreet (1986) 42 Cal.3d 891, 895, 231 Cal.Rptr. 213, 726 P.2d 1288. Accord People v. Woodhead (1987) 43 Cal.3d 1002, 1007, 239 Cal.Rptr. 656, 741 P.2d 154; People v. Aston (1985) 39 Cal.3d 481, 489, 216 Cal.Rptr. 771, 703 P.2d 111.)

The words of section 23202, "in any [§ 23152 or § 23153] case" are all inclusive, as are the words "if any person," in the correlative section 23206, subdivision (a). See fn. 4 Their apparent meaning is that all driving under the influence defendants, without exception, shall have their guilt or innocence determined without delay and without diversion and those found guilty shall be timely sentenced. This meaning is reinforced by the mandate of section 23206, subdivision (c): "The court shall not absolve a person who is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 or 23153 from the obligation of spending the minimum time in confinement, if any, or of paying the minimum fine provided in this article."

Perceiving no ambiguity in sections 23202 and 23206 our inquiry would normally end. But defendant contends that this seeming all inclusive prohibition against diversion is apparent only. Actually when read with Penal Code section 1001.21, ante, it is clear, defendant argues, that the legislature intended to allow diversion for the developmentally disabled.

We therefore continue our inquiry and "look to a variety of extrinsic aids, including the ostensible objects to be achieved, the evils to be remedied, the legislative history, public policy, contemporaneous administrative construction, and the statutory scheme of which the statute is a part." (People v. Woodhead, supra, 43 Cal.3d 1002, 1008, 239 Cal.Rptr. 656, 741 P.2d 154.)

[215 Cal.App.3d 1574]

Page 301

Legislative History: Assembly Bill 541

The prologue to Assembly Bill 541 (1981-1982 Reg. Sess.), the statute which reformed California's driving under the influence laws and added sections 23202 and 23206 to the Vehicle Code, is a long and painful one. As Justice Mosk observed, quoting a turn of the century editorialist, " '[i]nebriates and moderate drinkers are the most incapable of all persons to drive motor wagons. The general palsy and diminished power of control of both the reason and the senses are certain to invite disaster in every attempt to guide such wagons.' " (Burg v. Municipal Court (1983) 35 Cal.3d 257, 261, 198 Cal.Rptr. 145, 673 P.2d 732.)

Disaster was invited and disaster came. The statistics have become familiar: "Nearly one-quarter of all traffic accidents resulting in injury involved the use of alcohol. [Citations.] Traffic deaths in the United States exceed 50,000 annually, and approximately one-half of those fatalities are alcohol-related." (Ibid.) California led the parade. "Indeed, in the years 1976 to 1980 there were many more injuries to California residents in alcohol-related traffic accidents than were suffered by the entire Union Army during the Civil War, and more were killed than in the bloodiest year of the Vietnam War." (Id. at p. 262, 198 Cal.Rptr. 145, 673 P.2d 732.)

Even these statistics inadequately described the "wide swath of death, pain, grief, and untold physical and emotional injury across the roads of California" (id. at p. 262, 198 Cal.Rptr. 145, 673 P.2d 732) caused by drunk drivers. Legislative efforts to curb the carnage proved unavailing.

In 1979 the legislature made this finding: "The Legislature finds and declares that problems related to the inappropriate use of alcoholic beverages adversely affect the general welfare of the people of California. These problems, which constitute the most serious drug problem in California, include, but are not limited, to the following: [p ] (a) Substantial fatalities, permanent disability, and property damage which result from driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages and a drain on law enforcement, the courts, and penal system which result from crimes involving inappropriate alcohol use." (Health & Saf.Code, § 11760.)

It was these "substantial fatalities", cold words to mark the loved sons and daughters of grieving parents, which created Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the source and principal sponsor of AB...

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37 practice notes
  • People v. Johnson, Nos. B044094
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • September 26, 1990
    ...close cases where persuasive arguments can be marshalled on either side of the disputed issue (see, e.g., People v. Weatherill (1989) 215 Cal.App.3d 1569, 1588-1589, 264 Cal.Rptr. 298). In this case, however, the issue no matter how close is also fundamental--whether this defendant has been......
  • Hines v. Superior Court (People), No. D016932
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • September 30, 1992
    ...the voters or "the lawmakers did not expressly contemplate the issue bothering us Page 222 here" (People v. Weatherill (1989) 215 Cal.App.3d 1569, 1581, 264 Cal.Rptr. 298 [Johnson, J., dissenting] )--namely, whether the discovery provisions of Proposition 115 should apply to the penalty pha......
  • McLaughlin v. State Bd. of Education, No. A084730.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • September 27, 1999
    ...controls the general one. [Citations.] The referent of `general' and `specific' is subject matter.' (People v. Weatherill (1989) 215 Cal.App.3d 1569, 1577-1578 [264 Cal.Rptr. 298]; see also Los Angeles Police Protective League v. City of Los Angeles (1994) 27 Cal.App.4th 168, 178-179 [32 Ca......
  • Dustin v. Superior Court, No. F039023.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 9, 2002
    ...jury was convened by a federal district court. Further, even if the plain meaning rule did not apply (People v. Weatherill (1989) 215 Cal.App.3d 1569, 1573, 264 Cal.Rptr. 298), nothing in the legislative history suggests the Legislature intended to exclude grand jury proceedings from the sc......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
38 cases
  • People v. Johnson, Nos. B044094
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • September 26, 1990
    ...close cases where persuasive arguments can be marshalled on either side of the disputed issue (see, e.g., People v. Weatherill (1989) 215 Cal.App.3d 1569, 1588-1589, 264 Cal.Rptr. 298). In this case, however, the issue no matter how close is also fundamental--whether this defendant has been......
  • Hines v. Superior Court (People), No. D016932
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • September 30, 1992
    ...the voters or "the lawmakers did not expressly contemplate the issue bothering us Page 222 here" (People v. Weatherill (1989) 215 Cal.App.3d 1569, 1581, 264 Cal.Rptr. 298 [Johnson, J., dissenting] )--namely, whether the discovery provisions of Proposition 115 should apply to the penalty pha......
  • McLaughlin v. State Bd. of Education, No. A084730.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • September 27, 1999
    ...controls the general one. [Citations.] The referent of `general' and `specific' is subject matter.' (People v. Weatherill (1989) 215 Cal.App.3d 1569, 1577-1578 [264 Cal.Rptr. 298]; see also Los Angeles Police Protective League v. City of Los Angeles (1994) 27 Cal.App.4th 168, 178-179 [32 Ca......
  • Dustin v. Superior Court, No. F039023.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 9, 2002
    ...jury was convened by a federal district court. Further, even if the plain meaning rule did not apply (People v. Weatherill (1989) 215 Cal.App.3d 1569, 1573, 264 Cal.Rptr. 298), nothing in the legislative history suggests the Legislature intended to exclude grand jury proceedings from the sc......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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