Here is an Eastern District Court of Appeals case where a man’s later felony conviction prevented him from getting his license reinstated. The later felony conviction had occurred after his five-year DWI suspension had expired. However, Defendant did not apply for reinstatement at the 5 year mark and instead waited until 2019, almost 5 years later.
The trial court granted the man’s petition to reinstate his driver’s license which had been suspended for five years after he was convicted in 2009 for a DWI.
The Department of Revenue (DOR), which regulates issuance of driver’s licenses, argued that the circuit court erred in reinstating the Defendant’s driving privileges because the man was convicted of possession of a controlled substance within the preceding five years of his petition being filed, and that based on statute it makes him ineligible for reinstatement. Specifically, the DOR cited Section 302.060.1(10). It states that there are no exceptions to the requirement that a petitioner for reinstatement not have been found guilty of an offense related to alcohol, controlled substances, or drugs during the preceding five years.
Unfortunately, for the Defendant he was found guilty of possession of a controlled substance eleven days prior to filing his petition for reinstatement.
Here’s how it went down. On October 24, 2015, the State charged Defendant with possession of a controlled substance and unlawful use of drug paraphernalia. Then he proceeded to get numerous continuances and he alleged abandonment by defense counsel stretching out the length of his new charges. Then on April 5, 2019, he pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance.
He received a suspended imposition of sentence and was placed on supervised probation for five years. That same month, on April 16, 2019, he petitioned the circuit court to reinstate his driving privileges. He argued that he was eligible for reinstatement on June 2, 2014, five years following the revocation of his driving privileges. He claimed in his petition that he “has not been convicted, pled guilty to or been found guilty of—and has no pending charges for—any offense related to alcohol, controlled substances or drugs and has no other alcohol-related enforcement contacts as defined in [S]ection 302.525 during the preceding five years.”
The case was simple with the appellate division holding that because the plain language of Section 302.060.1(10) requires a petitioner seeking reinstatement of his driving privileges to have not been found guilty of an offense related to alcohol, controlled substances, or drugs during the preceding five years, the circuit court erred in granting the man’s petition because no substantial evidence supported finding he was eligible for reinstatement under the statute.
Again, that was because the man had been found guilty of possession of controlled substances eleven days prior to filing his petition. Therefore, the circuit court erred in granting the man’s petition.
The opinion was written by Judge Kurt S. Odenwald, with Judges Philip M. Hess, P.J., and Lisa P. Page, concurring. The attorney for appellant was Eric W. McDonnell, while the attorney for the respondent was acting pro se.