Navigation Top
AGO Logo Graphic
AGO Header Image
File a Complaint
Contact the AGO
AGO 1951 No. 046 - May 23, 1951
AGO Opinion Header Image
Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

FIREWORKS.

Section 7, chapter 174, Laws of 1951, does not require the transportation of fireworks to the point of sale by a carrier having a license to do business within the state.  "Direct sales" as used in section 7,supra, embraces those immediate sales of fireworks from trucks, cars, etc.

                                                                  - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                   May 23, 1951

Honorable Reuben C. Youngquist
Prosecuting Attorney
Skagit County
Mount Vernon, Washington                                                                                               Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 46

Dear Sir:

            Receipt of your letter of May 8, 1951, and of the matters therein contained, is acknowledged.  For the sake of brevity we have summarized your inquiries as follows:

            Does section 7, chapter 174, Laws of 1951, require the transportation of fireworks to the point of sale by a carrier licensed to do business within the state?  If not, construe "direct sales" as used in said section.

            We conclude:

            That section 7,supra, does not render mandatory the transportation of fireworks to the point of sale by a carrier having a license to do business within the state.

            That "direct sales" as used in section 7, supra, embraces all immediate sales of fireworks from trucks, cars, and such other means of transportation.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Section 7,supra, reads as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to carry fireworks in cars, trucks or any other means of transportation along the highways of the state for the purpose of making direct sales, either wholesale or retail, from such car or trucks:  Provided, however, This act does not prohibit any carrier having a license to do business in the state from making deliveries of fireworks to any person, firm or corporation authorized to handle the same."

            Your letter states:

            "The usual practice of the fireworks dealers in this county has been to solicit orders some time in advance of the Fourth of July season and then to make their own deliveries in their automobiles or light trucks.

            "We would like your opinion on the question of whether the above statute is broad enough to prohibit this practice, making it mandatory to transport all fireworks to the point of sale by an authorized carrier, or whether the effect of the statute is limited by the use of the term 'direct sales.'  If the latter is the case, we would appreciate a definition of the term 'direct sales.'"

            We agree that section 7, supra, merely regulates the transportation of fireworks "to the point of sale," and that the legislature did not attempt to regulate all transportation of fireworks.

            We would be presumptuous to hold that the word "direct" in section 7,supra, was superfluous and had no meaning.  As said inMcKenzie v. Mukilteo Water District, 4 Wn. (2d) 103, 112, 102 P. (2d) 251:

            "Statutes must be construed as a whole, and, if possible, effect must be given to each word, phrase, clause and sentence of the act."  (Emphasis supplied).

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            We are of the opinion that section 7, supra, forbids only the transportation of fireworks by cars, trucks, etc., for the purpose of making "direct" sales, and it does not require the transportation of all fireworks to the point of sale by a carrier licensed to do business within the state.

            Having reached this conclusion, it becomes necessary to define "direct sales."  As noted in 50 Am.Jur., Statutes, section 238, we

            "* * * should be slow to impart any other than their commonly understood meaning to terms employed in the enactment of a statute * * * ."

            Of the various meanings assigned to the adjective "direct" in Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition, only the word "immediate" renders section 7,supra, coherent.  A "direct sale," then, would be an immediate sale of fireworks from a truck, auto, etc.  The term would not include a delivery of fireworks in fulfillment of a previous contract of sale.  If there was no contract, or if the contract was not valid, the sale would take place at the time of delivery, and such is prohibited unless the following proviso from section 7,supra, applies:

            "* * * This act does not prohibit any carrier having a license to do business in the state from making deliveries of fireworks to any person, firm or corporation authorized to handle the same."

            There is a further ground supporting our conclusion that "direct sales" in section 7,supra, does not encompass a contract of sale and future delivery.  The effect of a contrary construction would be a statutory mandate requiring the transportation of all fireworks to the point of sale by a carrier licensed to do business within this state.  The purpose of chapter 174,supra, as adduced from its title, is to regulate "the sale and the offering or exposing for sale of certain fireworks."  There is no reference to the regulation of the transportation of fireworks.  A construction holding section 7, supra, was such a regulation would probably violate Article II, section 19, of the Washington Constitution, which reads:

            "No bill shall embrace more than one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title."  (Emphasis supplied).

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]   But when a statute is open to two constructions, one rendering it constitutional, and the other unconstitutional, the former is the one to be adopted.  SeeGruen v. State Tax Commission, 35 Wn. (2d) 1, 211 P. (2d) 651, and the cases cited therein.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

ROBERT A. COMFORT
Assistant Attorney General

Content Bottom Graphic
AGO Logo