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June 14, 1972
Honorable Louis Bruno
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Old Capitol Building
Olympia, Washington 98504 Cite as: AGLO 1972 No. 45 (not official)
This is written in response to your recent letter requesting our opinion on the following question:
"Is the expenditure of Traffic Safety Education Funds for the training of school bus drivers a legitimate and legal expenditure under the amended version of RCW 46.81 [[chapter 46.81 RCW]]?"
The governing statute with respect to your question is RCW 46.81.030, as last amended by § 1, chapter 26, Laws of 1971, 1st Ex. Sess. The full text of this statute reads as follows:
"There shall be levied and paid into the traffic safety education account of the general fund of the state treasury a penalty assessment in addition to the fine or bail forfeiture on all offenses involving a violation of a state statute or city or county ordinance relating to the operation or use of motor vehicles or the licensing of vehicle operators, except offenses relating to parking of vehicles, in the following amounts:
"(1) Where a fine is imposed, five dollars for each twenty dollars of fine, or fraction thereof.
"(2) If bail is forfeited, five dollars for each twenty dollars of bail, or fraction thereof.
"(3) Where multiple offenses are involved, the penalty assessment shall be based on the total fine or bail forfeited for all offenses.
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
"Notwithstanding, the provisions contained in chapters 3.62 and 3.16 RCW, or any other section, all moneys derived from penalty assessments made under this section shall be forwarded to the traffic safety education account of the general fund of the state treasury and shall be used exclusively for traffic safety education.
"Where a fine is suspended, in whole or in part, the penalty assessment shall be levied in accordance with the fine actually imposed." (Emphasis supplied.)
The traffic safety education account referred to in this statute is provided for by RCW 46.81.060, which also provides that the expenses of the state superintendent's office in administering the traffic safety education program provided for in chapter 46.81 RCW ". . . shall be borne by appropriations from this account."
The scope of the term "traffic safety education" is to be found in RCW 46.81.010, which defines "traffic safety education courses" as meaning
". . . an accredited course of instruction in traffic safety education which shall consist of three parts: Classroom instruction, laboratory experience, and observation time. 'Laboratory experience' shall include on-street, driving range, or simulator experience or some combination thereof. Each of said parts shall meet basic course requirements which shall be established by the superintendent of public instruction and each part of said course shall be taught by a qualified teacher of traffic safety education. Any portions of the course may be taught after regular school hours or on Saturdays as well as on regular school days or as a summer school course, at the option of the local school districts."
On the basis of the plain, clear and unambiguous language appearing in these statutes, our answer to your question must be in the negative. The funds to [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] which this question refers may not be used for any other purpose than traffic safety education ‑ and hence, although they may be used to train traffic safety education instructors as a legitimate expense incurred in administering this program,1/ they may not be used for the training of school bus drivers. Accord, opinion dated February 28, 1972, to State Representative Norwood Cunningham, copy enclosed.
We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Deputy Attorney General
*** FOOTNOTES ***
1/See our informal memoranda to you of October 21, 1969, and March 21, 1972.