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AGO 1961 No. 46 - July 06, 1961
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

OFFICES AND OFFICERS ‑- STATE ‑- PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION ‑- AUTHORITY TO REGULATE CONCERNING SAFETY OF EQUIPMENT AND DRIVERS OF MOTOR FREIGHT CARRIERS AND AUTO TRANSPORTATION COMPANIES

The Washington public service commission has the authority to adopt and enforce rules and regulations relating to the safety of operations of motor freight carriers and auto transportation companies including the regulation of vehicle equipment and driver qualifications if such regulations are not in conflict with those of the state commission on equipment or the provisions of chapter 46.37 RCW.

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                                                                     July 6, 1961

Honorable Francis Pearson
Chairman, Washington Public
Service Commission
Olympia, Washington

                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 61-62 No. 46

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you have requested an opinion of this office upon a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            Does the Washington public service commission have the authority to adopt and enforce rules and regulations governing safety of equipment and driver qualifications with respect to motor freight carriers and auto transportation companies?

            We answer your question generally in the affirmative, with certain qualifications as set forth in the analysis.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            As you have noted in your letter, auto transportation companies are governed by chapter 81.68 RCW, and motor freight carriers by chapter 81.80 RCW.  Both chapters constitute a part of what is known as the public service law.

            Concerning auto transportation companies, we find that RCW 81.68.030 provides in material part:

            "The commission shall supervise and regulate every auto transportation company in this state,

            ". . .

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "(2) By regulating the accounts, service, and safety of operations;" (Emphasis supplied.)

            With respect to motor freight carriers, the following enactments are relevant to our inquiry here:

            RCW 81.80.020 declares the legislative policy with respect to motor freight carriers and reads in part as follows:

            "The business of operating as a motor carrier of freight for compensation along the highways of this state is a business affected with a public interest.  The rapid increase of motor carrier freight traffic and the fact that under the existing law many motor trucks are not effectively regulated have increased the dangers and hazards on public highways and make it imperative that more complete regulation should be employed to the end that the highways may be rendered safer for the use of the general public;. . ." (Emphasis supplied.)

            RCW 81.80.130, 81.80.140, 81.80.211 and 81.80.290, by their terms, manifest legislative intention to provide the public service commission with the power to effectuate the policy delineated in RCW 81.80.020, supra.

            RCW 81.80.130, provides in part:

            "The commission shall supervise and regulate every 'common carrier' in this state; make, fix, alter, and amend, just, fair, reasonable, minimum, maximum, or minimum and maximum, rates, charges, classifications, rules, and regulations for all 'common carriers'; regulate the accounts, service, and safety of operations thereof;. . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            RCW 81.80.140, provides in part:

            "The commission shall supervise and regulate every 'contract carrier' in this state; fix, alter, and amend, just, fair, and reasonable classifications, rules, and regulations and minimum rates and charges of each such 'contract carrier'; regulate the accounts, service, andsafety of operations thereof;. . ." (Emphasis supplied.)

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Both of these latter provisions were originally enacted in 1935 and both have since been amended, but not in any manner which affects our consideration here.

            For purposes of clarification, it should be pointed out that a motor freight carrier falls within the classification of either a common carrier or a contract carrier, depending upon the nature of its particular operation.  In any event, regardless of which classification a particular motor freight carrier falls within, it is clear from RCW 81.80.130, supra, and RCW 81.80.140, supra, that its "safety of operations" are subject to regulation by the public service commission.

            RCW 81.80.211 provides:

            "The commission may adopt rules and regulations relating to the hours of duty of motor carrier drivers and operators."

            RCW 81.80.290 provides in part:

            "The commission may, by general order or otherwise, prescribe rules and regulations in conformity with this chapter to carry out the purposes thereof, applicable to any and all 'motor carriers,' . . ."

            Outside the confines of chapter 81.80 RCW, but of prime importance and significance to our consideration of this matter is RCW 81.04.460 providing:

            "The commission shallenforce the provisions of this title and all other acts affecting public service companies, the enforcement of which is not specifically vested in some other officer or tribunal."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            It is to be noted that all of the provisions alluded to thus far were re‑enacted by the 1961 legislature in substantially the same language as that appearing herein.  See chapter 14, Laws of 1961.  It is to be further noted that RCW 81.04.460,supra, which was originally enacted in 1911, was amended by the 1961 legislature so as to add the following language to the provision just quoted:

            ". . . Any employee of the commission may, without a warrant, arrest any person found violating in his presence any provision of this title, or any rule or regulation adopted by the commission:  PROVIDED, That each such employee shall be first specifically designated in writing by the commission or a member thereof as having been found  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] to be a fit and proper person to exercise such authority.  Upon being so designated such person shall be a peace officer and a police officer for the purposes herein mentioned."  (§ 2, chapter 173, Laws of 1961.)

            Standing alone, we think the foregoing statutes illustrate a legislative intent to clothe the public service commission with general regulatory power in those matters which properly relate to the "safety of operations" of motor freight carriers and auto transportation companies, including the regulation of vehicle equipment and driver qualifications.

            Thus, addressing ourselves solely to that portion of your question which relates to driver qualifications, we conclude that the public service commission has the authority to both adopt and enforce rules and regulations governing driver qualifications with respect to auto transportation companies and motor freight carriers.  By this, we do not mean to imply that such authority includes the power to prescribe conditions precedent to the issuance of a motor vehicle operator's license.  The "general supervision and control of the issuance of vehicle operators' licenses" is specifically vested in the director of licenses.  RCW 46.20.010.  However, the commission may prescribe safety regulations over and above those prerequisite to the issuance of a driver's license with respect to the drivers of auto transportation companies and motor freight carriers.

            In so far as your question relates to the authority of the commission to adopt and enforce rules and regulations governing safety of equipment, a final conclusion at this juncture would be premature without first considering certain provisions of Title 46 RCW.

            Section 46.37.005, chapter 12, Laws of 1961, provides as follows:

            "There is hereby constituted a state commission on equipment which shall consist of the director of licenses, the chief of the Washington state patrol, and such person as may be designated by the state highway commission.

            "In addition to those powers and duties elsewhere granted by the provisions of this title the state commission on equipment shall have the power and the duty to adopt, apply and enforce such reasonable rules and regulations (1) relating to proper types of vehicles or combinations thereof for hauling passengers, commodities, freight and supplies, (2) relating to vehicle equipment, and (3) relating to the enforcement of the provisions of  [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] this title with regard to vehicle equipment, as may be deemed necessary for the public welfare and safety in addition to but not inconsistent with the provisions of this title."

            The first paragraph of the section just quoted was originally enacted as § 6, chapter 189, Laws of 1937.  The second paragraph was added as an amendment in 1943.  See, § 1, chapter 133, Laws of 1943.

            Chapter 46.37 RCW contains various statutory standards relating to vehicle equipment.  The rules and regulations adopted pursuant to RCW 46.37.005, supra, as well as the statutory standards governing vehicle equipment found throughout chapter 46.37 RCW, apply to all the various types of vehicles described therein without regard as to whether or not they fall within the jurisdiction of the public service commission as a public service vehicle.  This, of course, gives rise to the question of whether or not the entire field of vehicle equipment regulation, other than the statutory provisions of chapter 46.37 RCW, has been exclusively delegated to the state commission on equipment, thereby precluding the public service commission from regulating any specialized segment thereof.

            Stated somewhat differently, is the authority of the state commission on equipment and the statutory provisions of chapter 46.37 RCW exclusive in the premises?

            Section 46.08.010, chapter 12, Laws of 1961, provides in material part:

            "The provisions of thistitle relating to the certificate of ownership, certificate of license registration, vehicle license, vehicle license plates and vehicle operator's license shall be exclusive. . ." (Emphasis supplied.)

            Under the maxim"expressio unius est exclusio alterius," it is the uniform rule that the express mention of one thing in a statute implies the exclusion of all others.  State ex rel. Port of Seattle v. Dept. of Public Service, 1 Wn. (2d) 102, 95 P. (2d) 1007 (1939).  Of like nature is the rule that express exceptions in a statute exclude all other exceptions and cannot be extended by implication.  Monroe Etc. Co. v. Dept. of Labor & Industries, 11 Wn. (2d) 636, 120 P. (2d) 466 (1941).  Accordingly, since the provisions of Title 46 RCW relating to vehicle equipment are not among those mentioned as being "exclusive," it must be concluded that the legislature did not intend them as such.

            Nor do we think it can be said that chapter 46.37 RCW repeals by implication those provisions of the public service law granting the public service commission authority to adopt rules and regulations relating to safety of operations.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 6]]

            Repeals by implication are not favored and will not be held to exist where earlier and later statutes may stand together and both be held valid.  State ex rel. Wash. Etc. Bank v. Bellingham, 8 Wn. (2d) 233, 111 P. (2d) 781 (1941).  Provisions relating to the same subject matter embodied in different statutes should be harmonized so as to maintain the integrity of both statutes whenever possible.  State ex rel. Shomaker v. Superior Court, 193 Wash. 465, 76 P. (2d) 306 (1938).  Furthermore, as previously noted, the authority to regulate granted by RCW 46.37.005,supra, and the other provisions of chapter 46.37 RCW apply to motor vehicles generally, whereas the authority granted to the public service commission is specially limited to the vehicles of certain types of public service companies‑-i.e., motor freight carriers and auto transportation companies.  Thus, with respect to the pertinent provisions of the public service law, chapter 46.37 RCW, is ageneral statute.  It is well established that a general statute does not repeal a special statute on the same subject, unless the intent to repeal is manifest and such an intent cannot be implied unless the two acts cannot stand together and effect be given to both.  State v. Whitney, 66 Wash. 473, 120 Pac. 116 (1912), and cases cited therein.

            In this respect, it is worthy of note that although several provisions of chapter 81.68 RCW and chapter 81.80 RCW have been amended at various times since the original enactment and amendment of RCW 46.37.005, the legislature has never seen fit to amend in any way the particular provisions of RCW 81.68.030 and RCW 81.80.130 which grant the public service commission the authority to regulate the safety of operations of auto transportation companies and motor freight carriers respectively.

            Under these circumstances, we do not feel it can be said that there is a manifest intent upon the part of the legislature to effect a repeal by implication.

            Of further significance is RCW 46.08.020, chapter 12, Laws of 1961, providing:

            "The provisions of this title relating to vehicles shall be applicable and uniform throughout this state and in all incorporated cities and towns and all political subdivisions therein and no local authority shall enact or enforce any law, ordinance, rule or regulation in conflict with the provisions of this title except and unless expressly authorized by law to do so and any laws, ordinances,rules or regulations in conflict with the provisions of this title are hereby declared to be invalid and of no effect.  Local authorities may, however, adopt  [[Orig. Op. Page 7]] additional vehicle and traffic regulations which are not in conflict with the provisions of this title."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            Under this statutory mandate, it is clear that any rules or regulations pertaining to vehicle equipment which are in conflict with those promulgated by the state commission on equipment or with the standards set forth in chapter 46.37 RCW, will be of no force or effect.

            Thus, it is our conclusion that the public service commission has the authority toadopt such rules and regulations pertaining to safety or equipment of motor freight carriers and auto transportation companies as are not in conflict with those of the state commission on equipment or those set forth in chapter 46.37 RCW.

            In determining whether any particular rule or regulation of the public service commission is in conflict with those of the state commission on equipment or those set forth in chapter 46.37 RCW, the test is whether the former permits, or licenses, that which the latter forbids, or prohibits, and vice versa.  Bellingham v. Schampera, 157 Wash. Dec. 1 (1960) [[57 Wn.2d 106]].

            There yet remains for consideration the question of the public service commission's authority toenforce those rules and regulations which it properly adopts.  Its authority in this respect is sufficiently prescribed in that portion of RCW 81.04.460,supra, providing:

            "The commission shallenforce the provisions of this title and all other acts affecting public service companies, the enforcement of which is not specifically vested in some other officer or tribunal."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            As a final word, it should be noted that the enforcement of RCW 46.37.005 and chapter 46.37 RCW, which necessarily affects public service companies, is expressly vested in the state commission on equipment.  (RCW 46.37.005,supra).  Thus, it is clear that the public service commission is without power to enforce the provisions of these acts.  However, this fact in no way detracts from or limits the public service commission's power to enforce its own independent rules and regulations which are not in conflict with those of the state commission on equipment or the provisions of chapter 46.37 RCW.

            We trust that this information will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

DUANE S. STOOKEY
Assistant Attorney General

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