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AGO 1953 No. 502 - March 25, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

MOTOR VEHICLES ‑- LICENSE PLATES ‑- CONVERSION VEHICLES ‑- USE FUEL TAXES ‑- DIESEL TRUCK PLATES ‑- FUEL.

Conversion trucks, equipped to use either gasoline or propane fuel, must carry "DT" or "diesel truck" license plates, issued pursuant to RCW 46.16.074, which imposes a 25% higher fee than that required for trucks propelled solely by gasoline.

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                                                                  March 25, 1953

Mr. J. P. Amundson
Assistant Director
Department of Licenses
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 502

  Dear Sir:

             We are in receipt of your letter of March 16, 1953, in which you request our opinion whether "conversion vehicles," equipped to use either gasoline or propane for fuel, require a "DT" license.

             Our conclusion may be summarized as follows:

             Conversion trucks, equipped to use either gasoline or propane fuel, must carry "DT" or "diesel truck" license plates issued pursuant to RCW 46.16.074, which imposes a 25% higher fee than that required for trucks propelled solely by gasoline.

                                                                      ANALYSIS

             It is our understanding that so-called "DT" or "diesel truck" license plates are issued under authority of RCW 46.16.074, which is supplementary to RCW 46.16.070.  RCW 46.16.074 reads, in part, as follows:

             "As to any such motor truck or truck tractor propelled by * * * diesel oil, butane, or propane the schedule of fees set forth in RCW 46.16.070 shall be increased * * * by twenty-five percent * * *."

              [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            The fuels named in this statute will herein be designated as "use" fuels, which term includes all fuels used to propel motor vehicles, except ordinary gasoline.  See RCW 82.40.010.

            There has been no previous discussion or consideration of this statute by either this office or the supreme court.  Thus, our interpretation of this statute must depend upon general rules of construction.  The principle is well established that, whenever possible, statutes are so construed as to give effect to the purposes for which they were enacted.  50 Am.Jur., 283 et seq. (Stats. § 303).

             RCW 46.16.074 is a licensing statute enacted for the purpose of securing from operators of trucks propelled by "use" fuels their proportionate share of the cost of building and maintaining public highways.

             It would be contrary to the obvious purpose of the statute to allow motor trucks equipped with conversion devices, which make possible the use of either gasoline or propane for fuel, to escape payment of the fee required by this statute merely because there is a possibility that they may use gasoline.

             The statute does not state that the vehicle must be propelled exclusively by one of the "use" fuels enumerated, nor do we believe that this is what was intended.  It is our opinion that the legislative intent was to include under the statute all motor trucks and truck tractors equipped to be propelled by "use" fuels, such as propane, irrespective of whether the vehicles are also equipped for propulsion by gasoline.

             We might point out in passing that we are not in agreement with your conclusion that passenger cars would also be required to comply with this licensing requirement if equipped with conversion devices.  RCW 46.16.074 applies only to "motor trucks" and "truck tractors," neither of which terms includes passenger cars.  Unless "DT" license plates are issued under authority of some other statute of which we are not aware, they cannot be required for passenger cars even if such cars operate exclusively on "use" fuels.  However, the fact that "DT" plates cannot be required has no effect upon the liability for the tax imposed by RCW 82.40.020 upon "use" fuels.  Although the collection of this tax  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] may be impaired by the lack of the requirement that passenger cars carry "DT" plates when equipped with conversion devices, this can have no effect upon our conclusion, since RCW 46.16.074 applies only to trucks.

 Very truly yours,
DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

WILLIAM C. HALLIN
Assistant Attorney General

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