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Name: Rehman v. Department of Motor Vehicles
Case #: C060579
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 10/20/2009

A blood alcohol content of .04% of a commercial-vehicle licensed driver is sufficient to suspend the license and to sustain the order of suspension following an administrative hearing. Rehman was arrested for operating a tractor-trailer while under the influence of alcohol. Breath tests of Rehman taken approximately an hour after he was first stopped revealed a .04% and .05% blood alcohol content, respectively, and the arresting officer confiscated Rehman’s license and gave him the required notice of suspension and a temporary 30-day license, effective pending the result of the administrative hearing. The suspension was upheld at a subsequent administrative hearing. Under Vehicle Code section 13353.2, subdivision (a)(3), the Department of Motor Vehicles can immediately suspend the driver’s license of a person who, with a blood alcohol content of .04%, drives a vehicle that requires a commercial license. However, under Vehicle Code section 13557, at an administrative hearing, the department shall sustain the suspension if the person had a .08% blood alcohol content. Applying rules of statutory construction, the appellate court resolved this inconsistency by finding that it would be absurd for the Legislature to enact a statute that would allow the criminal conviction of a commercial driver with proof of only .04% blood alcohol but not intend a license suspension absent proof of the higher blood alcohol content applicable to ordinary drivers, .08%. To avoid such an effect, the court construed section 13557 as including a provision sustaining an order of suspension for the commercial driver with .04% blood alcohol content.