State v. Argueta

In State v. Argueta, 107 Wn. App. 532, 27 P.3d 242, 243 (Wash. Ct. App. 2001), the officer was in uniform, driving an unmarked vehicle equipped with black push bars on the front bum per, several antennas, an exterior spotlight mounted to the driver's door post, several emergency lights visible when activated, and a three-tone siren. 27 P.3d at 243. During the pursuit of the defendant, the officer continuously activated his lights and siren. Id. at 244. The Court of Appeals was called upon to interpret RCW 46.61.024. Id. The Court, in Argueta, reached the same conclusion as the Court in Ritts, but for different reasons. The Court explained: We conclude that to be "marked" under the eluding statute, a vehicle must bear some type of insignia that identifies it as a police vehicle. Emergency equipment does not constitute a "mark" under the ordinary dictionary definition of the term. Emergency equipment is a signaling device, not an identifying device. The ordinary meaning of the term "mark" connotes writing or other characters affixed to the vehicle that conveys its identity or ownership, such as a decal bearing the name of the police department to which the vehicle belongs. We therefore hold that to be "appropriately marked" for purposes of the eluding statute, a vehicle must bear an insignia that identifies the vehicle as an official police vehicle. Our conclusion is supported by another rule of statutory construction, namely, that we will not interpret statutes in such a way that would render a word or provision superfluous. In a provision separate from the one imposing the "appropriately marked" requirement, the eluding statute contains the term "attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle." A car with flashing strobe lights, headlights flashing from one side to the other and from high to low beam, a flashing red and blue light on the dashboard, and a three tone siren that is pursuing a civilian vehicle would be understood by a person of ordinary intelligence to be a pursuing police vehicle. So, under the common and ordinary meaning of the term "pursuing police vehicle," the officer's vehicle would constitute such a vehicle. Were we to conclude that the evidence is sufficient to sustain Argueta's conviction, we would improperly render the "appropriately marked" requirement superfluous because the conviction could be based on the fact that Argueta attempted to elude a "pursuing police vehicle" even though it was not "appropriately marked." To give meaning to the "appropriately marked" requirement, we must assume that the Legislature intended to require something more than the presence of activated emergency equipment in order to render a police vehicle appropriately marked for purposes of the eluding statute. That "something more" the Legislature required is a "mark," which, under the ordinary meaning of the term, means an insignia identifying the vehicle as an official police vehicle. Id. at 245-46. In Argueta, the Court called for action by the legislature stating: "The logic and practicality of this result are, in our view, matters worthy of the Legislature's attention. The eluding statute, as presently worded, requires the presence of some identifying insignia in order for a vehicle to be appropriately marked. Without it, a defendant cannot be convicted under the statute as written." 27 P.3d at 246.