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Name: Hopkins v. Superior Court (Los Angeles County)
Case #: B270503
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 09/01/2016
Summary

Pretrial diversion under Penal Code section 1001.80 for veteran charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence (DUI) is not precluded by Vehicle Code section 23640, which bars pretrial diversion in DUI cases. Hopkins, a military veteran with PTSD, was charged with misdemeanor DUI. He moved for pretrial diversion under section 1001.80, which authorizes a trial court to grant pretrial diversion to active duty military members or veterans charged with misdemeanors who have service-connected disabilities. The trial court denied his request, reasoning that pretrial diversion was barred by section 23640, which precludes diversion in any DUI case. Hopkins sought writ relief. Held: Peremptory writ issued. Section 1001.80 and Section 23640 are irreconcilable. “If conflicting statutes cannot be reconciled, later enactments supersede earlier ones, and more specific provisions take precedence over more general ones. But when these two rules are in conflict, the rule that specific provisions take precedence over more general ones trumps the rule that later-enacted statutes have precedence.” (State Dept. of Public Health v. Superior Court (2015) 60 Cal.4th 940, 960-961.) Although the Legislature enacted the military diversion statute after section 23640, in People v. VanVleck (2016) 2 Cal.App.5th 355, the court held that section 23640 was the more specific statute and therefore trumped section 1001.80. But determining which statute is the more specific one ultimately comes down to an “arbitrary choice” because both statutes could be considered the more specific statute. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal applied the rule that later enactments supersede earlier ones and found that the legislative history of section 1001.80 supported the conclusion that it was intended as an exception to section 23640.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B270503.PDF