Driver License Compact California Case Law
In 1963, California's Legislature enacted into law the Driver License Compact (Compact) ( 15000 et seq.), finding that the safety of California's streets and highways is materially affected by drivers' degree of compliance with state and local laws relating to the operation of motor vehicles and that the violation of those laws is evidence that the violator engages in conduct likely to endanger the safety of persons and property ( 15020, subd. (a)(1), (2)).
The Compact is specifically intended to increase highway and street safety by "promoting compliance with the laws, ordinances and administrative rules and regulations relating to the operation of motor vehicles." ( 15020, subd. (b)(1);
Larsen v. Department of Motor Vehicles (1995) 12 Cal. 4th 278, 282, fn. 4 [48 Cal. Rptr. 2d 151, 906 P.2d 1306] [the Compact is "intended to increase highway and street safety by enhancing the degree of compliance with laws governing the operation of motor vehicles in party states."].)
Another important purpose of the Compact is to "make the reciprocal recognition of licenses to drive and eligibility therefor more just and equitable by considering the overall compliance with motor vehicle laws, ordinances and administrative rules and regulations as a condition precedent to the continuance or issuance of any license by reason of which the licensee is authorized or permitted to operate a motor vehicle in any of the party states." ( 15020, subd. (b)(2).)
The Compact is to be liberally construed to effectuate its purposes. ( 15028.) the State of Colorado is a party to the Compact. (C.R.S. 24-60-1101 (1997); Kramer v. Colorado Dept. of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Division (Colo.Ct.App. 1998) 964 P.2d 629.)
Under the Compact, party states are required to report convictions of persons from another party state to the home state of the licensee. ( 15022.) the DMV's treatment of reported prior convictions is governed by section 15023, which provides in part:
"(a) the licensing authority of the home state, for the purposes of suspending, revoking, or limiting the license to operate a motor vehicle, shall give the same effect to the conduct reported . . . as it would if such conduct had occurred in the home state, in the case of a conviction for:
"(2) Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a narcotic drug, or under the influence of any other drug to a degree which renders the driver incapable of safely driving a motor vehicle;
"(b) As to any other convictions . . . the licensing authority in the home state shall give such effect to the conduct as is provided by the laws of the home state.
"(c) If the laws of a party state do not provide for offenses or violations denominated or described in precisely the words employed in subdivision (a) of this section, such party state shall construe the denominations and descriptions appearing in subdivision (a) hereof as being applicable to and identifying those offenses or violations of a substantially similar nature, and the laws of such party state shall contain such provisions as may be necessary to ensure that full force and effect is given to this section."
Accordingly, under subdivision (a) of section 15023, the DMV must give the same force and effect in California to a prior out-of-state conviction for "driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor" as if the same conduct had occurred in California. Subdivision (c) of section 15023 provides a more relaxed standard; party states may construe other offenses or violations as falling under subdivision (a) so long as the offenses and violations are of a "substantially similar nature" as driving while under the influence of an intoxicating liquor. Under subdivision (b) of section 15023, the DMV must give effect to the conduct involved in "other convictions" as it would under California law.