Turner v. State Dept. of Motor Vehicles

Decision Date12 September 1968
PartiesMichael Arthur TURNER, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. STATE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES, Defendant and Appellant. Civ. 8850.
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals

COUGHLIN, Acting Presiding Justice.

Defendant, the Department of Motor Vehicles, appeals from a judgment decreeing issuance of a writ of mandate directing it to grant plaintiff, Turner, a hearing in a proceeding instituted pursuant to the financial responsibility provisions of the Vehicle Code (Veh. Code § 16000 et seq.), and to set aside its order suspending his driver's license until the hearing had been determined.

On November 14, 1966, Turner was driving an automobile which collided with and injured a pedestrian named Chambers. Thereafter, the department demanded Turner post security in the sum of $10,000, pursuant to Vehicle Code Section 16080, or suffer suspension of his driver's license. Turner did not post the security and the department ordered suspension of his license. The date of the demand for security or of the order of suspension does not appear from the record. On April 12, 1967 Turner's attorney wrote the department; stated, in substance, he had reviewed the police accident report and the evidence appeared to be overwhelming that the cause of injury to the pedestrian was the fact he 'darted out into the traffic and failed to look for traffic' and 'there is no reasonable cause to believe that under any known legal theory that Mr. Turner could be liable for any damages'; demanded the department afford Turner a formal hearing on the issue of whether security should be required; and also demanded the department stay its order of suspension until a hearing had been held. The department replied by letter dated April 24, 1967, stating it was 'not authorized to determine fault or legal liability arising from an accident. This is usually determined by a suit for damages in a civil court having proper jurisdiction'; that there was no provision in the law for a hearing, or extending the effective suspension date; and when Turner complied with the financial responsibility law it would give further consideration to restoration of his driving privilege. Thereupon Turner filed the petition in the instant proceeding seeking a writ of mandate compelling the department to grant him a hearing on the issue of his 'probable pecuniary culpability arising from the accident', and directing it to set aside the order suspending his license until the hearing had been determined. At the hearing on this petition the only evidence introduced was the letters from Turner's attorney and from the department in reply. The judgment is premised on these letters and upon facts alleged in the petition which are not denied in the department's answer. It was not shown whether Turner filed a report of the accident as required by Vehicle Code Section 16000. Attached to the department's answer was a photographic copy of a report signed by Chambers showing he received substantial injury in an accident on Nov. 14, 1966 involving himself, as a pedestrian, and an automobile driven by Turner. It was not shown whether there were other reports or other evidence upon which the department based its determination precedent to its demand for security.

We have concluded the department acted within the law in denying Turner's request for a hearing on the issue of 'culpability'; the order suspending his driver's license was proper; and the judgment should be reversed.

Pertinent provisions of the financial responsibility statute provide the driver of a motor vehicle involved in an accident which results in bodily injury of any person shall report the accident within 15 days on forms provided by the department (Veh. Code § 16000); the driver 'shall deposit security in a sum which shall be sufficient in the judgment of the department to satisfy any final judgment or judgments in any amount for bodily injury * * * resulting from such accident as may be recovered against such driver * * *' unless the driver shows he is exempt from the provisions of the statute (Veh. Code § 16020); the department shall determine the amount of the security deposit 'upon the basis of the reports or other evidence submitted to it' (Veh. Code § 16020); the driver is given the privilege of establishing 'to the satisfaction of the department' that his responsibilities arising out of the accident are within the provisions exempting him from the requirements of security (Veh. Code § 16050); the method of establishing the exemption is by Filing a report or evidence with the department (Veh. Code §§ 16051--16053); and in the event the driver fails to establish his exemption within 50 days after the accident and fails to deposit security within 10 days after notice specifying the amount thereof, the department shall suspend his license to drive. (Veh. Code § 16080.)

In Escobedo v. State of California etc., 35 Cal.2d 870, 875, 878, 222 P.2d 1, 6, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the financial responsibility statute; held suspension of a license upon failure to deposit...

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4 cases
  • Orr v. Superior Court of City and County of San Francisco
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 10 Diciembre 1968
    ...63 Cal.Rptr. 21, 432 P.2d 717; Hough v. McCarthy (1960) 54 Cal.2d 273, 285, 5 Cal.Rptr. 668, 353 P.2d 276; Turner v. Dept. Motor Vehicles (1968) 265 A.C.A. 737, 741, 71 Cal.Rptr. 616; and Cook v. Bright (1962) 208 Cal.App.2d 98, 102-103, 25 Cal.Rptr. 116.) Real parties in interest suggest t......
  • Anacker v. Sillas
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 28 Diciembre 1976
    ...(Ky.1951) 238 S.W.2d 141, 142; Larr v. Dignan (1947) 317 Mich. 121, 26 N.W.2d 872, 874; and see Turner v. State Dept. of Motor Vehicles, 265 Cal.App.2d 649, 652--653, 71 Cal.Rptr. 616.) And Bell itself does not resolve the issue. Although the Georgia statute there in question did not by its......
  • Orr v. Superior Court of City and County of San Francisco, S.F. 22651
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 29 Mayo 1969
    ...judgment; § 16054, payment to the involved driver by the insurance carrier for the Other persons).6 Turner v. State Dept. of Motor Vehicles (1968) 265 A.C.A. 737, 71 Cal.Rptr. 616 cited by the department, did not reach the question of whether the department need consider the issue of culpab......
  • Contreras v. America, Compania General De Seguros, S.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 16 Mayo 1975
    ...his financial irresponsibility by failing to comply with prescribed security deposit requirements. (Turner v. State Department of Motor Vehicles, 265 Cal.App.2d 649, 653, 71 Cal.Rptr. 616.) Vehicle Code section 16057 provided that every driver or employer involved in an accident is exempted......

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