In a recent unpublished decision from the Minnesota Court of Appeals, the court addressed the issue of whether a driver is legally entitled to a seven (7) day temporary driver’s license, prior to their driver’s license becoming revoked as the result of a DWI charge and testing above the legal limit of having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more. In other words, as a result of circumstances, what if the temporary is only for four (4) days? This is the exact issue the court addressed in the present case.
As a background, generally when a driver submits to chemical test of his or her blood, breath, or urine, they will subsequently receive a Notice of Revocation thereby revoking their privileges to drive a motor vehicle in Minnesota. If the test submitted to is a breath test, then generally the driver will receive his notice on the same day as the offense. However, if the test happens to be a blood or urine test, then those tests are sent out to a lab for testing and the results may not be known for several weeks. In those cases, the notices of revocation are mailed at a later time by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Furthermore, usually in these situations, the revocation date is usually ten (10) days from the notice date to allow three (3) days for mailing.
In the present case, the driver was arrested for DWI on February 27, 2011 and submitted to a urine test on that date. On May 23, 2011 the Department of Public Safety sent the driver a notice of revocation making his driver’s license revocation effective as of May 30, 2011 only allowing him a four (4) day temporary license as a result of the delay in mailing. The driver’s attorney prudently argued the his clients due process rights were violated by, in essence, only receiving a four day notice thereby violating a Minnesota statutory requirement. The lower District Court Judge agreed and rescinded the driver’s license revocation. The Commissioner of Public Safety appealed.
On appeal, the Commissioner argued that the lower court was wrong because Minnesota Law does not, by statute, require that a driver receive a seven-day notice prior to being revoked. The Minnesota Court of Appeals, agreeing with this position, cited the statute indicating that it only requires that if the notice is mailed, as opposed to personally served, as with breath tests, it is deemed received by the driver three days from the mailing date.
The Minnesota Court Appeals, in making its distinction, further found that the district court was mistaken in its earlier ruling because it relied on a separate part of the statute that only refers to a requirement of a seven day temporary when a police officer is immediately serving the notice of revocation on the driver and not when the notice is later mailed. This generally happens when there is an immediate test result on the day of arrest. As stated, immediate results occur in breath test cases or when the driver refuses to submit to chemical testing. In the present case, which involved a urine test, the driver did not have his license immediately revoked, but received his notice almost three months later.