GA: Reasonable mistake of law doesn’t mean “good working order” statute requires an interior mirror on a truck; nothing at all in statute on that

The reasonable mistake of law field encounters a new one: Does a truck have to have an inside rearview mirror when under the “good working order” statute? No, and concluding otherwise is not reasonable. The statute doesn’t even come close. Abercrombie v. State, 2017 Ga. App. LEXIS 560 (Nov. 3, 2017):

The trial court summarily concluded in its order that the officer’s stop of Abercrombie’s vehicle “was valid.” But at the motion-to-suppress hearing, the court explained its belief that the statutes at issue were “vague enough that the officer’s interpretation is correct.” We disagree.

First, as to OCGA § 40-8-7, although the officer repeatedly testified that his understanding was that this Code section required vehicles to be equipped with anything original to manufacture, it instead requires that vehicle equipment be “in good working order and adjustment as required in this chapter” and that a vehicle “contain those parts or … at all times [be] equipped with such lights and other equipment in proper condition and adjustment as required in this chapter.” Thus, OCGA § 40-8-7 does not require vehicles to contain all original equipment from the time of manufacture but, instead, only such equipment in such proper condition and adjustment as explicitly required by the remaining provisions of Chapter 40.

Next, looking to the plain language of OCGA § 40-8-72 (a), it is clear that there is no specific requirement that a non-commercial vehicle contain an interior rearview mirror. Instead, OCGA § 40-8-72 (a), which is subject only to an exception in subsection (b) that applies to commercial motor vehicles, requires that vehicles be “equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of such vehicle” when the vehicle is “so constructed or loaded as to obstruct the driver’s view to the rear thereof from the driver’s position.” That subsection (a) does not specifically require the use of an interior mirror is bolstered by the fact that subsection (b), applicable to commercial motor vehicles, does specify the use of an interior mirror under certain circumstances.

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