May 10, 2017
The Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District (Division Three) held last week that Missouri substantive law governs the Director or Revenue’s decisions when it comes to issuance, suspension, or revocation of a Missouri license regardless of the driver’s home state at the time of conviction. The interstate Driver License Compact does not supplant the Missouri 10-year ineligibility rule under §302.060(9), the appellate court said.
Here is the background of the case. The Director of Revenue appealed the trial court’s judgment ordering the DOR to issue a Missouri driver’s license to William Thanner.
Thanner received three DWI convictions while residing in Georgia between 1996 and 2010. He completed all requirements for reinstatement in Georgia and had a valid Georgia license when he moved in 2015 to Missouri. The Director of DOR denied Thanner’s application for a Missouri license, citing §302.060(9) imposing a 10-year ban following two or more DWI convictions. Upon judicial review, the trial court ordered the Director to issue Thanner a Missouri license, reasoning that Thanner’s Georgia license was entitled to reciprocity under the interstate Driver License Compact (§302.600).
The trial court’s judgment is reversed, and the cause is remanded for the trial court to reinstate the Director’s denial of Thanner’s application for an unrestricted license and proceed on his request for limited driving privileges.
The opinion was written by Judge’s Lisa Van Amburg with judges Angela T. Quigless and Robert G. Dowd, Jr., concurring. The attorney for Appellant was Rachel Jones and the attorney for Respondent was Keith Liberman.
The appellate court stated the following as to its analysis:
“Here, the trial court adopted Thanner’s rationale and conclusions of law, relying entirely on a dissent opining that §302.160 applies only to drivers holding a Missouri license when the out-of-state offense occurred, and citing full faith and credit without analysis.2 Johnston v. Director of Revenue, 305 S.W.3d 465 (Mo. App. E.D. 2010). In that case, a Kentucky driver was convicted of DWI in 1996, but his conviction was not affirmed on appeal until 2006. In the interim, Johnston’s conviction remaining unreported, and he moved to Missouri and obtained a Missouri license in 2005. When the Kentucky DWI conviction was finally affirmed and reported in 2006, the Director suspended Johnston’s Missouri license. Despite the fact that Kentucky was Johnston’s home state at the time of the offense, this court affirmed the Director’s suspension, reasoning that the Director was entitled to rely on the conviction date as reported by Kentucky. While unusual on its chronological facts, Johnston remains instructive for its adherence to a strict liability approach to Missouri’s 10-year rule under §302.060(9), consistent with other appellate decisions cited above.
‘Thanner did not develop his full faith and credit argument into legal analysis and essentially abandoned it at oral argument, conceding that it does not mandate reciprocal recognition of state-specific licenses (e.g., drivers, teachers, lawyers). Simply put, Missouri substantive law controls the Director’s issuance, suspension, or revocation of a Missouri license regardless of the driver’s home state at the time of the conviction. Nothing in the Compact mandates differential treatment.”