State, Dept. of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety v. Brown

Decision Date24 October 1988
Docket NumberNo. 18409,18409
Citation104 Nev. 524,762 P.2d 882
PartiesThe STATE of Nevada, DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES AND PUBLIC SAFETY, Appellant, v. Clifton W. BROWN, Respondent.
CourtNevada Supreme Court
OPINION

PER CURIAM:

Clifton Brown was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. When Brown was requested to take an evidentiary blood-alcohol test, pursuant to Nevada's implied consent law, he refused, and his driver's license was subsequently revoked for the statutory one-year period. As Brown later pleaded guilty, the one-year license revocation was added to the penalties imposed for his DUI conviction.

Brown appealed the revocation of his license to the DUI Adjudicator. The DUI Adjudicator affirmed the revocation, and Brown appealed to the district court. Concluding that Brown's intoxicated condition rendered him incapable of withdrawing his consent, the district court reversed the decision of the DUI Adjudicator. This appeal by the State of Nevada, and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety followed. Because we conclude that as a matter of law a driver's voluntary intoxication, by itself, may not render him incapable of refusing to take an evidentiary test, we reverse the judgment of the district court.

Discussion

Pursuant to NRS 484.383(1), any person driving a vehicle on a public road is deemed to have given consent to an evidentiary test for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of his blood or the presence of a controlled substance. Nevada law, NRS 484.384(1) and NRS 484.385(1), further provides that failure to submit to an evidentiary test results in revocation of driving privileges for a minimum of one year. As the district court concluded that Brown's intoxicated condition rendered him incapable of withdrawing his consent, this case is controlled by NRS 484.383(3), which provides as follows:

Any person who is dead, unconscious, or otherwise in a condition rendering him incapable of refusal shall be deemed not to have withdrawn his consent, and any such test may be administered whether or not the person is informed that his failure to submit to the test will result in the revocation of his privilege to drive a vehicle.

(Emphasis supplied).

The sole issue on appeal is whether Brown's excessive, voluntary intoxication constitutes a "condition rendering him incapable of refusal" such that he "shall be deemed not to have withdrawn his consent." As this issue arises from ambiguity in NRS 484.383(3), resolution of this appeal is a matter of statutory construction. 1

We believe that Brown's contention--that his voluntary intoxication allows him to escape the effect of Nevada's implied consent laws--is negated by the language of NRS 484.383(3), which speaks of a person who is "dead, unconscious, or otherwise in a condition rendering him incapable of refusal." It is a well settled rule of statutory construction that where a general term in a statute follows specific words of a like nature, the general term takes its meaning from the specific words. See, e.g., Young Elec. Sign Co. v. Erwin Elec. Co., 86 Nev. 822, 477 P.2d 864 (1970). Unconsciousness and death are clearly of a like nature; both terms denote a condition in which a person is unable either to comprehend or to respond to his environment in any significant manner. We must conclude, however, that voluntary intoxication, even when grossly excessive, cannot fairly be included in the same semantic category with unconsciousness and death. See Sweitzer v. Dep't of Transp., M.V.D., 140 Ariz. 536, 683 P.2d 335 (Ariz.App.1984).

Had the legislature intended that voluntary intoxication be a condition rendering a driver incapable of refusal, language to that effect could easily have been inserted in the statute. Clearly, there is no reference in NRS 484.383(3) to intoxication as a condition rendering a driver incapable of refusal, and we decline to create such a reference judicially where, for the most obvious of policy reasons, the legislature has chosen not to. Cf. State v. Pendley, 92 N.M. 658, 593 P.2d 755 (App.1979); County of...

To continue reading

Request your trial
5 cases
  • Guerra v. Hertz Corp.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Nevada
    • 25 Julio 2007
    ... ... Kellner, Kabateck Brown Kellner, LLP, Los Angeles, CA, for Plaintiff ... or after January 9, 2002," excluding Nevada state judiciary members, Defendant's employees, and ... the entire statutory scheme, reason, and public policy to effect a construction that reflects the ... from the specific words." State, Dep't of Motor Vehicles & Pub. Safety v. Brown, 104 Nev. 524, ... ...
  • State, Dept. of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety v. Becksted
    • United States
    • Nevada Supreme Court
    • 27 Junio 1991
    ...intoxication, by itself, may not render an individual incapable of refusing to take an evidentiary test. See State, Dep't Mtr. Vehicles v. Brown, 104 Nev. 524, 762 P.2d 882 (1988). However, appellant contends that intoxication, combined with a commingling of implied consent warnings and a M......
  • Figueroa v. Ids Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • Nevada Court of Appeals
    • 16 Junio 2017
    ...policies that do not provide primary liability insurance for a particular motor vehicle. See State, Dept. of Motor Vehicles & Pub. Safety v. Brown, 104 Nev. 524, 526, 762 P.2d 882, 883 (1988) ("It is a well settled rule of statutory construction that where a general term in a statute follow......
  • Ebarb v. State, Dept. of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety, 22004
    • United States
    • Nevada Supreme Court
    • 30 Diciembre 1991
    ... ...         Appellant's reading of NRS 484.383(8) is erroneous. Statutes should be construed "with a view to promoting, rather than defeating the legislative policy behind ... them." State, Dep't of Mtr. Vehicles v. Brown, 104 Nev. 524, 526, 762 P.2d 882, 883 (1988). The clear intent of NRS 484.383(8) is to obtain a blood test if there is reasonable cause to believe a DUI suspect has committed a felony. Further, this court has consistently held that "the implied consent statute should be liberally construed so as ... ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Administrative hearings
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Defending Drinking Drivers - Volume One
    • 31 Marzo 2022
    ...this purpose of removing drunk drivers from the road as well as ‘common sense.’” Department of Motor Vehicles & Pub. Safety v. Brown , 762 P.2d 882 (Nev. 1988). §828 Implied Consent Requirements Need Not Be Met to Sustain a DWI Conviction A Minnesota Court of Appeals held, in State v. Pittm......

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