Can You Overturn An Administrative Suspension Of Your Driver’s License?
Section 8-1001 of the Kansas Statutes outlines when an officer can “require” an individual to submit to a breath test or lose his or her license. First and foremost, the officer must have reasonable grounds to believe the person is driving or trying to drive while intoxicated. But this belief is not enough. The person must also have either been taken into custody or been involved in an auto accident. When these conditions are met, a breath test displaying a positive result or refusal to take a breath test at all can result in a year-long suspension of the person’s license under Section 8-1001(k)(5). This suspension may be overturned at an administrative hearing or later by review of the court. However, an overturned decision is quite rare. In the roughly 200 times that challenges to these suspensions have reached the Kansas Court of Appeals, only a handful have ever been overturned. These cases are discussed below.
Manzano V. Kan. Dep’t Of Revenue, 50 Kan. App. 2d 263 (2014)
The Constitution requires that before an individual’s driver’s license is suspended, the individual in entitled to an “opportunity to be hear at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner.” Part of this opportunity is the administrative hearing. In Manzano, the hearing officer repeatedly interrupted the presentation of evidence and ultimately stopped the hearing before the accused ever got a chance to speak. The district court found this behavior amounted to far less than a fair opportunity to be heard. Though judicial review is part of the overall scheme of due process, when a meaningful administrative review is not given to the accused the flaw in due process is fatal to the suspension. The district court chose to reinstate the accused license in Manzano, but it could have simply sent the matter back for a proper hearing—either solution is appropriate and is a matter for the reviewing court to determine.
Gonzales V. Kan. Dep’t Of Revenue, 386 P.3d 542 (2016)
Two important points of law can be drawn from Gonzales v. Kansas Department of Revenue. First, a predicate to requesting a breath test is a lawful arrest. Unless the police officer had probable cause to complete the arrest and did so in compliance with the law. The officer in Gonzalez did not have probable cause to arrest Gonzalez, making the breath test he refused incapable of supporting the suspension of his license.
Second, the state is limited to the arguments for suspending the accused’s license that it raised at the administrative level. In Gonzalez, the state attempted to switch the offense Gonzalez was suspected of, from DUI to underage DUI, to support a finding of probable cause justifying the requested breath test. The court did not allow this and excluded evidence that the officer had gather concerning Gonzalez’s age, as well as required probable cause that his BAC was over 0.08, rather than the lesser amount for underage DUI. The Court of Appeals made clear that the state must be consistent in its arguments, just as the accused must. Thus, the attempt to introduce new arguments is not permissible in a review of a revocation hearing.
Luna V. Kan. Dep’t Of Revenue, 337 P.3d 73 (2014)
In Luna, the accused was not a native English-speaker and misunderstood how long he had to file for an administrative hearing. The state may allow an appeal when “excusable neglect” is shown to have caused the late filing. Unfortunately, despite Luna’s assertions of the reason for his late appeal, neither the agency nor court made any indications of whether his claims were believed. Instead, both simply denied his request. The Court of Appeals disagreed with this action, and remanded the case. The agency or court may not believe an accused’s facts constitute excusable neglect, but there must be findings that describe what the agency and court found. Without such findings, the matter must be reexamined.
Mcintosh V. Kan. Dep’t Of Revenue, 291 Kan. 41 (2010)
Once the accused has refused to take a breath test, may he change his mind? The Kansas Supreme Court decided that this is a right in Standish v. Department of Revenue, under certain circumstances. The issue in McIntosh was whether the accused license could still be suspended if a Standish request was validly made but the arresting officer refused to administer the test. The Kansas Supreme Court determined that when the accused complies with Standish by making a quick withdrawal of his refusal, he should be allowed to take the breath test and failure to administer the test can result in overturning the suspension of accused’s license. To allow otherwise cuts against the purpose of the implied consent law. However, the change of heart must occur quickly and in compliance with Standish.
Johnson V. Kan. Dep’t Of Revenue, 334 P.3d 344 (Kan. Ct. App. 2014)
In Johnson, the state was initially successful in suspending the accused’s license. However, upon judicial review, the district court reversed the suspension. This was largely due to the dashcam video presented as evidence. The state appealed this decision, but failed to include the dashcam video within its record for the Court of Appeals. By failing to supply the full record, the court determined that reversing the suspension was appropriate action by the district court.
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