GAME FUND ‑- CREDITING FINES IMPOSED UNDER STATUTES REGULATING POSSESSION AND USE OF FIREARMS IN VEHICLES AND ON HIGHWAYS.
As of February 23, 1955, the Game Fund should be credited with 50% of all monies received from fines imposed under RCW 77.16.250 and RCW 77.16.260 regulating possession and use of firearms in vehicles and on highways.
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March 26, 1956
Mr. John A. Biggs, Director
Department of Game
509 Fairview Avenue North
Seattle 9, Washington Cite as: AGO 55-57 No. 231
Dear Mr. Biggs:
You have asked for our opinion upon two questions which we paraphrase as follows:
Should the game fund, pursuant to RCW 77.12.170, be credited with 50 per cent of all moneys received from fines imposed under RCW 77.16.250 (unlawful to carry loaded shotgun or rifle) and RCW 77.16.260 (unlawful to shoot firearms on public highway)?
If so, when did this requirement become effective?
We answer your first question in the affirmative. The effective date of this requirement was February 23, 1955.
Section 27, chapter 275, Laws of 1947, later designated as RCW 77.12.170, provided in part as follows:
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
"There is established in the State Treasury a fund to be known as the State Game Fund which shall consist of all moneys received from fees for the sale of licenses and permits, and from fines, forfeitures, and costs collected for violations of this act, or any other statute for the protection of wild animals and birds and game fish, or any rule or regulation of the Commission relating thereto: Provided, That fifty per cent (50%) of all fines and bail forfeitures shall not become part of the state game fund and shall be retained by the county in which collected." (Emphasis supplied.)
You will note that the word "act" in the foregoing statute was replaced with the word "title" when the revisers prepared the Revised Code of Washington. Sections 1 and 2, chapter 126, Laws of 1947, later designated as RCW 77.16.250 and RCW 77.16.260, provided as follows:
"Section 1. It shall be unlawful for any person to carry, transport or convey, or to have in his possession or under his control in any motor-driven or horse‑drawn vehicle or in any vehicle propelled by man, any shotgun or rifle containing shells or cartridges therein."
"Section 2. It shall be unlawful for any person to shoot any pistol, rifle, shotgun or other firearm from, across, or along any public highway."
Chapter 126 contained six sections in all, including penalty provision.
Chapter 126 was not part of the act establishing the game code in 1947, nor do we consider it as being a statute "for the protection of wild animals, birds and game fish." It is rather a statute for the protection of the public. Therefore, chapter 126 was not included nor contemplated as falling within the provisions of RCW 77.12.170.
Despite the fact that chapter 126 was included in the same title as chapter 275 when the revisers prepared the Revised Code of Washington, it was not so considered by the legislature, since prior to 1955prima facie evidence of the law had to be obtained from the session laws, rather than from the Revised Code of Washington.
[[Orig. Op. Page 3]]
However, in chapter 36 of the Laws of 1955, the game code was re‑enacted [[reenacted]], and at that time it included the language of chapter 126 of the Laws of 1947 (RCW 77.16.250 et seq.). Therefore, at that time the game fund, pursuant to RCW 77.12.170, was required to be credited with 50 per cent of fines imposed under those sections. This chapter became effective on February 23, 1955. It should be noted also that it was not until this session of the legislature in chapter 5, Laws of 1955, that the Revised Code of Washington was deemed official, and also deemed to be prima facie evidence of the laws contained therein.
Any portions of fines, forfeitures, and costs collected for violations of RCW 77.16.250 and RCW 77.16.260 subsequent to February 23, 1955, which have not been credited to the game fund, will necessarily have to be traced, and the state auditor's office will have to be notified in order that the proper bookkeeping entries may be made to credit such amounts to the game fund.
We trust that the foregoing information will prove helpful.
Very truly yours,
JOSEPH T. MIJICH
Assistant Attorney General