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AGO 1950 No. 275 - May 12, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

MOTOR VEHICLES ‑- PERMITS ‑- OVERLOADS

There is not necessarily any direct conflict between subdivision (j), section 5, chapter 220 and section 3, chapter 221, Laws of 1949.  The correct construction of the two provisions is that no city or town has any right to interfere with a movement of an overloaded or overwidth vehicle through a city or town when such movement is confined to the route of the state highway, originating and terminating outside such city or town, provided such movement is lawfully permitted by the Director of Highways.

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                                                                   May 12, 1950

Honorable William A. Bugge
Director of Highways
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 275

Dear Sir:

            We have your letter of May 2, 1950, in which you call our attention to the apparent conflict between subdivision (j), section 5, chapter 220, and certain provisions in section 3, chapter 221, Laws of 1949, and ask for an opinion on the apparent conflict in these two statutes.

            Our conclusions reached may be summarized as follows:

            There is not necessarily any direct conflict between subdivision (j), section 5, chapter 220, and section 3, chapter 221, Laws of 1949.  The correct construction of the two provisions is that no city or town has any right to interfere with a movement of an overloaded or overwidth vehicle through a city or town when such a movement is confined to the route of the state highway and originates outside such city or town and terminates outside such city or town, provided such movement is lawfully permitted by the Director of Highways.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Your letter reads as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "In the administration of our Motor Vehicle Permit Laws, we have discovered a direct conflict between chapter 220, section 5, subsection (j) and chapter 221, section 55 (page 760) of the Laws of 1949

            "Chapter 220, section 5, subsection (j) declares that the city or town shall have the right to issue overload and overwidth permits on such streets or roads . . . Chapter 221, section 55 declares that a permit will not be required from city or town authorities for a move involving a combination of city or town streets and State Highways when the move is confined to the route of the State highway."

            Section 5, chapter 220, Laws of 1949, is an amendment of section 61, chapter 187, Laws 1937, and is also found at 6450-61 Rem. Supp. 1949.  To incorporate the section herein would unduly extend this opinion.  It first provides:

            "The Director of Highways shall determine what city streets, * * * if any, in any incorporated cities and towns shall form a part of the route of any primary or secondary state highway through such incorporated cities and towns, * * * and all such streets * * * shall be constructed and maintained by the Director from any state funds available therefor.

            "The jurisdiction control and duty of the state and city and town with respect to said streets shall be as follows:"

            Then follow thirteen specific subdivisions, each apparently designed to provide a workable formula for adjusting the various difficulties which might arise between the state and local authorities.  It would seem to us that the maximum of local control is given to the respected cities and towns, at the same time preserving to the state its full right to construct and maintain the state's primary and secondary highways as designated by the Director of Highways.  Subdivision (j) provides:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            "The city or town shall have the right to issue overload or overwidth permits for vehicles to operate on such streets or roads subject to regulations printed and distributed to the cities and towns by the Director;"

            Section 3, chapter 221, Laws of 1949, is an amendment of section 55, chapter 189, Laws of 1937, and is also found at 6360-55 Rem. Supp. 1949.  It also is a rather long section.  The section provides in part.

            "The Director of Highways with respect to primary and secondary state highways and local authorities with respect to public highways under their jurisdiction may, in their discretion, upon application in writing and good cause being shown therefor, issue a special permit in writing authorizing the applicant to operate or move a vehicle or combination of vehicles of a size, weight of vehicle or load exceeding the maximum specified in this act, or otherwise not in conformity with the provisions of this act upon any public highway under the jurisdiction of the authority granting such permit and for the maintenance of which such authority is responsible."

            The section then contains a somewhat complicated formula and also a fee schedule as well as other provisions which we regard as immaterial herein.  We quote the following from said section:

            "Fees established in this section shall be paid to the political body issuing the permit if the entire movement is to be confined to roads, streets or highways for which that political body is responsible.  When a movement involves a combination of state highways, county roads and/or city streets the fees shall be paid to the Director of Highways but such fees shall not be collected nor the state permit issued until valid permits are presented showing that the political bodies involved approve of the move in question.  A permit will not be required from city or town authorities for a move  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] involving a combination of city or town streets and state highways when the move through a city or town is being confined to the route of the state highway.  When a move involves a combination of county roads and city streets the fee shall be paid to the county authorities, but the fee shall not be collected nor the county permit issued until valid permits are presented showing that city or town authorities approve of the move in question."  (Emphasis ours)

            It is to be noted that the last above quotation consists of four separate sentences, each involving an entirely separate and distinct situation.  The first sentence relates to a situation where the entire movement is to be confined to roads, streets or highways for which one particular body is responsible.

            The second sentence might appear to be more difficult.  Such difficulty arises from the use of the term "and/or."  If such term were placed between the words "state highways" and the words "county roads" the meaning of the sentence might be more clear.  It is rather difficult to ascribe a true meaning to the words "and/or" when we notice where they are placed in the sentence.  However,Batchelor v. Madison Park Corporation, 25 Wn. (2d) 907, 172 P. (2d) 268, apparently approves the use of such term, and that "and/or" should be construed as meaning either "and" or "or."  Therefore, we believe the second sentence must be construed as relating to a combination of "state highways and county roads" or "state highways and city streets" or "state highways, county roads and city streets."

            Taking up now the fourth sentence, out of order:  such sentence relates to a combination of county roads and city streets.  It is to be noted that the sentence does not involve state highways in any way.

            We will now take up the third sentence, or the underscored portion of the above quotation.  You will notice that one of the possible situations which is covered by the second sentence involves a combination of state highways and city streets.  It would seem to be only in rare instances that any movement of traffic could originate in a city without some portion of such movement being over city streets, and if such movement were over city streets and the state highway, then the applicable portions of the second sentence would apply as to such city.  Possibly we might so construe the third sentence so as to make it apply only where the movement originated in a city and directly on the state highway and with no use  [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] of city streets.  However, we do not believe that the third sentence is to be so circumscribed.  Our duty is to give effect to the entire statute and to each word in such statute if it is at all possible so to do.  We must endeavor to learn the legislative intent.  Cory v. Nethery, 19 Wn. (2d) 326, 142 P. (2d) 488; State ex rel. State Employees Retirement Board v. Yelle, 31 Wn. (2d) 87, 201 P. (2d) 172.

            Suppose such a movement were to originate, say in the city of Vancouver, Washington, and terminate in the city of Tacoma.  As above pointed out such movement might or might not be subject to the provisions of the second sentence above mentioned as to any movement within either city depending upon whether such movement used the city streets of either or both cities.  If such movement originated in the city of Vancouver, Washington, and terminated in the city of Tacoma, Washington, and used the state highway exclusively between such two cities, then a logical meaning can be given to the above third sentence.  It would seem to us that the third section was inserted to cover such a case.  In other words, the Director of Highways would issue the special permit as provided in 6260-55 Rem. Supp. 1949,supra, subject to the provisions of the second sentence above quoted if such movement involved the use of the city streets of either or both the cities of Vancouver and Tacoma, but no permit whatever would be required from any of the intervening cities, such as Kelso, Chehalis, Centralia, Olympia, etc.  A careful reading of the above third sentence would seem to lead to the conclusion our last interpretation is correct:  "A permit will not be required from city or town authorities for a movement involving a combination of city or town streets and state highways when the movement through the city or town is being confined to the route of the state highway."

            With the meaning of the said third section thus limited there would seem to be very little, if any, conflict between 6450-61 (j) Rem. Supp. 1949, and the above third sentence of 6360-55 Rem. Supp. 1949.  If there be such a conflict, the provisions of chapter 221, supra, must be held to prevail over chapter 220,supra, since it is the latest enactment.

            It is to be noted that subdivision (j), supra, is permissive only and does not require as a mandatory duty that city or town authorities issue overload or overwidth permits.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 6]]

            Under this opinion we are holding, in substance, that no city or town has any right to interfere with a movement of an overloaded or overwidth vehicle through the city or town when such movement is confined to the route of the state highway and originates outside such city or town and terminates outside such city or town, and is otherwise lawfully permitted by the Director of Highways.  We are not holding that the above quoted third sentence operates as a repeal of subdivision (j),supra, but only as a modification of the same.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

GEORGE DOWNER
Assistant Attorney General

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