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Bianco v. DMV Services Division

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 07-10-2013
Case #: A149599
Schuman, P.J.; Wollheim, J.; and Nakamoto, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A149599.pdf

Administrative Law: Absent any evidence that an administrative agency intended to part with the legislature's definition of specific terms, the court will align its decision with the traditional reading of the specific terms.

The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) appealed a circuit court judgment setting aside an administrative order to suspend a driver’s privileges.  ORS 813.410 specifies that the DMV shall suspend a driver’s privileges 30 days after an arrest for refusing to take a breath test, unless the driver requests a hearing to challenge the proposed suspension. According to the DMV’s administrative guidelines, when the date of a challenge hearing needs to be changed to a time outside of the 30 days following arrest, then a new hearing shall be “rescheduled” for as soon as practicable. The lower court sided with the driver’s reading of the DMV policy, understanding “reschedule” to mean the same as “hold,” which in turn alleviated the driver from having his license suspended.  The Court of Appeals, however, found that the Circuit Court incorrectly interpreted “reschedule” and “held.” Citing Webster’s Dictionary, the Court concluded that the proper understanding of the word “reschedule” does not denote an instance where the event must take place on that date. Furthermore, the Court of Appeals read the language used in the legislature’s implied consent scheme to present “hold” and “reschedule” as different words meaning different things. Absent any evidence that the DMV intended to part from statutorily application of the words “reschedule” and “hold,” the court will error on the side aligned with their traditional understanding. Thus, the proper interpretation of “held” and “rescheduled” is that the two should not be used interchangeably and are distinct terms utilized to describe distinctly different concepts of time.

Reversed and Remanded.