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Opinion No. 5617

December 28, 1979


Adoption of Michigan Vehicle Code as an ordinance

A county may not adopt the Michigan Vehicle Code as an an ordinance.

Honorable Richard Fitzpatrick

State Representative

The Capitol

Lansing, Michigan 48909

Citing OAG, 1977-1978, No 5379, p ___ (October 24, 1978), which held that townships may adopt the Michigan Vehicle Code as an ordinance, you have inquired whether counties may also adopt the Michigan Vehicle Code (1) as an ordinance.

Pursuant to Const 1963, art 7, Sec. 16, jurisdiction over country roads has been conferred upon boards of county road commissioners by 1909 PA 283, ch 4. (2) The Michigan Vehicle Code, supra, confers certain powers on county road commissioners, as to speed limits, passing zones, grade crossings, weight limits, and the erection of traffic control signs and devices, inter alia, and authorizes the adoption of ordinances or resolutions prohibiting trucks or commercial vehicles and establishing weight limits. (3)

While the legislature has authorized cities, villages and townships to adopt uniform traffic codes under 1956 PA 62, (4) counties are not included within that legislation, indicating the legislative intention that counties shall not have such authority.

In interpreting the vehicle code as to the powers conferred, the maxim of expression unius est exclusio alteriurs is appropriate:

'It is a well-established rule of statutory construction that where powers are specifically conferred they cannot be extended by inference, but that the inference is that it was intended that no other or greater power was given than that specified.' Eikhoff v Detroit Charter Commission, 176 Mich 535, 540; 142 NW 746 (1913).

See also: Sebewaing Industries, Inc. v Village of Sebewaing, 337 Mich 530, 546; 60 NW2d 444 (1953), and Alan v Wayne County, 388 Mich 210, 257; 200 NW2d 628 (1972). The express enumeration of certain powers of county road commissioners in the vehicle code indicates the legislative intention that other or greater powers, such as the authority to adopt the entire code as an ordinance, should not be conferred upon counties.

Although county boards of commissioners are generally authorized to adopt ordinances by 1851 PA 156 Sec. 11, as last amended by 1978 PA 279 and 629, (5) that statute provides:

'A county board of commissioners, at a lawfully held meeting, may perform the following:

' (m) Pass regulations and ordinances relating to county affairs . . ., but which shall not contravene the general laws of this state . . . However, the county board of commissioners shall not increase or extend its own powers, duties, or jurisdiction. . . .'

There is no provision in the motor vehicle code which confers powers upon county boards of commissioners, as are conferred upon county boards of road commissioners. The adoption of the motor vehicle code by a county would not be consistent with the legislative intention discussed above, would have the effect of contravening the general law of the state, and of extending or increasing the powers or jurisdiction of a county board of commissioners.

It is, therefore, my opinion that, although cities, villages and townships have the authority to adopt a uniform traffic code, (6) or adopt the Michigan Vehicle Code as an ordinance, (7) counties do not have such authority.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General

(1) 1949 PA 300, MCLA 257.1 et seq; MSA 9.1801 et seq.

(2) MCLA 224.1 et seq; MSA 9.101 et seq.

(3) Sec. 628, MCLA 257.628; MSA 9.2328; Sec. 631, MCLA 257.631; MSA 9.2331; Sec. 640, MCLA 257.640; MSA 9.2340; Sec. 668, MCLA 257.668; MSA 9.2368; Sec. 671, MCLA 257.671; MSA 9.2371; Sec. 675, MCLA 257.675; MSA 9.2375; Sec. 722, MCLA 257.722; MSA 9.2422; Sec. 724, MCLA 257.724; MSA 9.2424; and Sec. 726, MCLA 257.726; MSA 9.2426.

(4) MCLA 257.981 et seq; MSA 9.2651 et seq.

(5) MCLA 46.11; MSA 5.331.

(6) 1956 PA 62, supra.

(7) OAG, 1977-1978, No. 5379, supra. See also Delta County v City of Gladstone, 305 Mich 50; 8 NW2d 908 (1943).