State ex rel. Motor Vehicle Div. v. Holtz, No. 83-152

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
Writing for the CourtBefore ROONEY; PER CURIAM
Citation674 P.2d 732
PartiesThe STATE of Wyoming on the Relation of MOTOR VEHICLE DIVISION, a State Agency, Petitioner, v. Honorable John HOLTZ, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. 83-152
Decision Date12 December 1983

Page 732

674 P.2d 732
The STATE of Wyoming on the Relation of MOTOR VEHICLE DIVISION, a State Agency, Petitioner,
v.
Honorable John HOLTZ, Respondent.
No. 83-152.
Supreme Court of Wyoming.
Dec. 12, 1983.

Page 733

A.G. McClintock, Atty. Gen., Ron Arnold, Senior Asst. Atty. Gen., for petitioner.

Daniel E. White, Vines, Gusea & White, P.C., Cheyenne, for respondent.

Before ROONEY, C.J., and THOMAS, ROSE, BROWN and CARDINE, JJ.

Page 734

PER CURIAM.

Petitioner requested this court to issue a Writ of Mandamus directing Respondent to complete and furnish to the Motor Vehicle Division of the Department of Revenue and Taxation (hereinafter referred to as Division) certain forms reflecting court action and other matters concerning cases before the court involving the charge of Driving While Under the Influence of Intoxicants or Drugs (hereinafter referred to as DWUI). We issued an Alternate Writ of Mandamus directing Respondent to complete and furnish such forms or to show cause for not doing so. The issues were briefed by both parties, and Respondent did show such cause.

Wherefore an order shall issue contemporaneously with this opinion quashing the Alternate Writ of Mandamus and denying the Motion for a Peremptory Writ of Mandamus.

BACKGROUND

This matter is the consequence of two legislative enactments, the administration and execution of which result in a discord between (1) the Division, and (2) the county courts and justice of the peace courts (hereinafter referred to as Courts) exercising jurisdiction over DWUI violations. In this opinion, we will go somewhat beyond the scope necessary to dispose of the case in anticipation that the inconsistencies and administrative problems in and from the present statutes will result in corrective legislation.

For many years, the Courts would sentence those found guilty of violation of the DWUI statutes to either fine or imprisonment, and this disposition was relayed to the Division--usually by the arresting agency--where it was entered on the Division records. When the prior convictions of DWUI or violations of other motor vehicle requirements were sufficient for consideration of suspension or revocation of the driver's license, the Division would notify the violator of its intention to suspend or revoke his privilege to operate a motor vehicle on the highways of the state, afford him a hearing if necessary, and take appropriate action relative to the suspension or revocation of his license.

During the last three or four years, the legislature has increased the penalty which the Courts can and must impose for DWUI violations, making it more severe as the number of prior DWUI convictions of the driver increased. This, in a laudable effort to take the drunk or drugged driver off the roads. Section 31-5-233, W.S.1977, Cum.Supp.1983, as amended by Ch. 15, § 1, Session Laws of Wyoming, 1979, Ch. 58, § 1, Session Laws of Wyoming, 1980, Ch. 12, § 1, Session Laws of Wyoming, 1981, Ch. 50, § 1, and Ch. 52, § 1, Session Laws of Wyoming, 1982.

Subsection (e) of § 31-5-233 now reads:

"Every person convicted under this section shall, in addition to the penalty above provided, have his driver's license suspended at the time of conviction by the court. The court shall forward the license to the motor vehicle division of the Wyoming tax commission. Upon first conviction only, the court may issue to the person a temporary license which shall be valid for a period of thirty (30) days. The division shall provide the court with forms for issuance of the temporary licenses, including notification of the person's right to a hearing pursuant to W.S. 31-7-127(e). The temporary license may be extended by the division until the hearing provided for in W.S. 31-7-127(e) is held."

Section 31-7-127, W.S.1977, Cum.Supp.1983, provides in part:

"(d) Upon conviction under W.S. 31-5-233, the license shall be:

"(i) For the first conviction, suspended for three (3) months from the date of the expiration of the temporary license issued under W.S. 31-5-233(e);

"(ii) For the second conviction, suspended for one (1) year from the date of the expiration of the temporary license issued under W.S. 31-5-233(e);

"(iii) For the third conviction, revoked.

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"(e) After suspension or revocation under subsection (d) of this section, the licensee shall have twenty (20) days from date of conviction within which to request the [a] hearing. If requested, the hearing shall be held within forty-five (45) days after receipt of the request. For a first conviction only, upon hearing and demonstration that undue hardship would result from a mandatory suspension, the division may suspend or amend the requirements of license suspension if the person agrees to pursue and completes an alcohol education or treatment program as the division prescribes."

The first sentence of § 31-5-233(e), supra, can be said to direct the court to suspend the driver's license of the defendant:

"Every person, convicted under this section shall, in addition to the penalty above provided, have his driver's license suspended at the time of conviction by the court." (Emphasis added.)

Or, this sentence can be read as directing the suspension of the driver's license when convicted by the court but with the suspension to be accomplished in the historical manner:

"Every person, convicted under this section shall, in addition to the penalty above provided, have his driver's license suspended at the time of conviction by the court." (Emphasis added.)

If the direction is to have the court suspend the license, the criminal "penalty above provided" would be increased by the suspension of the driver's license of the person convicted--a result which would be entirely within the power of the legislature to direct. But when read in pari materia and by giving effect to the other provisions of the statutes, the manifested intent of the legislature is to have the Courts impose a fine and jail sentence and to have the Division suspend or revoke the driver's license, i.e., "by the court" in the first sentence of § 31-5-233(e), supra, modifies "time of conviction" and not "have his driver's license suspended." 1 All statutes must be construed in pari materia. In ascertaining the meaning of a given law, all statutes relating to the same subject or having the same general purpose must be considered and construed in harmony. Brinegar v. Clark, Wyo., 371 P.2d 62 (1962); Stringer v. Board of County Commissioners of Big Horn County, Wyo., 347 P.2d 197 (1959).

The portions of § 31-7-127, other than subsections (d) and (e), supra, set forth the procedure and conditions for suspension and revocation of a driver's license by the Division after convictions for multiple violations of other traffic laws; § 31-7-105, W.S.1977, Cum.Supp.1983, creates the office of hearing examiner to sit as an administrative hearing agency of the Division for review of "all matters arising from driver's license and related matters including suspension * * *." Section 31-7-127(d), supra, provides that the Division shall suspend the driver's license for the specified period of time "from the date of the expiration of the temporary license" issued by the court.

There is no indication that the legislature intended the Division, an agency of the executive branch of the government, to act in an appellate capacity over the Courts, and, of course, such would be unconstitutional as a violation of the separation-of-powers doctrine. Carter v. Board of County Commissioners of County of Laramie, Wyo., 518 P.2d 142 (1974). 2 If the suspensions were accomplished by the Courts, the statutory duties of the Division would be either superfluous or appellate. As noted,

Page 736

the latter would be unconstitutional. In other words, the historic intent to have the Courts impose fines and jail sentences on those found guilty of the crime of DWUI and to have the Division suspend and revoke drivers' licenses is still manifested in the statutes when considered in pari materia.

In construing statutes, legislative intent is the primary consideration. If the language is sufficiently clear, there is no need to resort to rules of construction. When the language is not clear or is ambiguous, the court must look to the mischief the statute was intended to cure, the historical setting surrounding its enactment, the public policy of the state, the conclusions of law, and other prior and contemporaneous facts and circumstances, making use of the accepted rules of construction to ascertain a legislative intent that is reasonable and consistent. Sanches v. Sanches, Wyo., 626 P.2d 61 (1981); State ex rel. Albany County Weed and Pest District v. Board of County Commissioners of County of Albany, Wyo., 592 P.2d 1154 (1979); Saffels v. Bennett, Wyo., 630 P.2d 505 (1981); Basin Electric Power Cooperative v. State Board of Control, Wyo., 578 P.2d 557 (1978); In re Romer, Wyo., 436 P.2d 956 (1968).

Nevertheless, the language in § 31-5-233(e), supra, authorizing suspension of a driver's license "by the court" "at the time of conviction," and the language therein directing the court to take custody of the driver's license of one convicted of DWUI and to forward the same to the Division, have caused confusion and varied interpretations thereof, not only within and between the Courts and the Division, but also and more importantly to many members of the public generally.

In a typical situation, John Doe is arrested for DWUI. When brought before the court, the complaint or information reflects one prior conviction for DWUI within the year in a Wyoming state court. After a guilty plea, he is sentenced to thirty days imprisonment and a fine of $500.00, with the execution of the jail sentence in excess of seven days being suspended upon defendant's agreement to pursue and complete a prescribed treatment program. 3 Shortly thereafter, he receives a communication from the Division which reads in part:

* * * The Notice of...

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66 practice notes
  • Johnson v. State Hearing Examiner's Office, Nos. 90-297
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • August 26, 1992
    ...to the city court by introduction of the state administrative agency for further sanction. State ex rel. Motor Vehicle Div. v. Holtz, 674 P.2d 732 (Wyo.1983). " 'A constitution is not to be made to mean one thing at one time and another at some subsequent time when the circumstances may hav......
  • Nowack v. State, No. 87-74
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • May 9, 1989
    ...1983, this Court invalidated that provision as violative of the separation of powers doctrine. State Ex Rel. Motor Vehicle Div. v. Holtz, 674 P.2d 732 (Wyo.1983). The legislature responded in the 1984 session by requiring the driver's license of a person arrested for D.W.U.I. be surrendered......
  • State ex rel. Wyoming Workers' Compensation Div. v. Halstead, No. 89-130
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • July 17, 1990
    ...of the statute. State Board of Equalization v. Tenneco Oil Co., 694 P.2d 97 (Wyo.1985); State ex rel. Motor Vehicle Division v. Holtz, 674 P.2d 732 (Wyo.1983); In re Adoption of MM, 652 P.2d 974 (Wyo.1982); Wyoming State Department of Education v. Barber, 649 P.2d 681 (Wyo.1982). All portio......
  • Director, Office of State Lands v. Merbanco, No. 01-261
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • June 6, 2003
    ...rules of construction to ascertain a legislative intent that is reasonable and consistent." State ex rel. Motor Vehicle Division v. Holtz, 674 P.2d 732, 736 Fosler v. Collins, 13 P.3d 686, 688 (Wyo.2000). DISCUSSION [¶ 36] As we apply these rules of construction to the constitutional provis......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
66 cases
  • Johnson v. State Hearing Examiner's Office, Nos. 90-297
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • August 26, 1992
    ...to the city court by introduction of the state administrative agency for further sanction. State ex rel. Motor Vehicle Div. v. Holtz, 674 P.2d 732 (Wyo.1983). " 'A constitution is not to be made to mean one thing at one time and another at some subsequent time when the circumstances ma......
  • Nowack v. State, No. 87-74
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • May 9, 1989
    ...1983, this Court invalidated that provision as violative of the separation of powers doctrine. State Ex Rel. Motor Vehicle Div. v. Holtz, 674 P.2d 732 (Wyo.1983). The legislature responded in the 1984 session by requiring the driver's license of a person arrested for D.W.U.I. be surrendered......
  • State ex rel. Wyoming Workers' Compensation Div. v. Halstead, No. 89-130
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • July 17, 1990
    ...of the statute. State Board of Equalization v. Tenneco Oil Co., 694 P.2d 97 (Wyo.1985); State ex rel. Motor Vehicle Division v. Holtz, 674 P.2d 732 (Wyo.1983); In re Adoption of MM, 652 P.2d 974 (Wyo.1982); Wyoming State Department of Education v. Barber, 649 P.2d 681 (Wyo.1982). All portio......
  • Director, Office of State Lands v. Merbanco, No. 01-261
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • June 6, 2003
    ...of construction to ascertain a legislative intent that is reasonable and consistent." State ex rel. Motor Vehicle Division v. Holtz, 674 P.2d 732, 736 Fosler v. Collins, 13 P.3d 686, 688 (Wyo.2000). DISCUSSION [¶ 36] As we apply these rules of construction to the constitutional provisi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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