Challenging DOT Sanctions


            There are literally hundreds of things that could cause a person to have their driver’s license (commercial or noncommercial) suspended, revoked, barred or disqualified.  Some of these include traffic offenses, serious violations, nonpayment of fines or child support, and OWI. 
            When the Department of Transportation seeks to suspend, revoke, bar or disqualify your driving privileges it is required to provide you notice of such action.  Typically, this is done by mailing notice to the address that the DOT has on file for you.  Obviously, it is your duty to make sure you have provided the DOT with your updated address.  All that is required by the DOT is to show that notice was mailed; it does not have to prove that you actually received notice of the action it intends to take upon your driving privileges. 
            Many people are unaware that they can challenge the action taken by the DOT against their driving privileges.  Many of the reasons the DOT attempts to take actions on someone’s license are discretionary.  Ultimately, by challenging the action you may be able to keep your license from being suspended.  On the converse, there are many violations that result in mandatory suspension, revocation, etc.
            When the DOT sends notice of impending action upon a person’s driving privileges there will be a set date that the action needs to be appealed by.  In the case of OWI’s, you have 10 days from the date of notice being provided to you (in breath test cases and test refusals this happens at the time of arrest).  In actions where notice is sent via mail, there will be an “appeal by date” printed in the notice. 
            To challenge the DOT actions, you are required to send in a notice of appeal.  There are two separate appeal processes.  Initially, an informal appeal is required to be filed.  The informal appeal is required to contain certain information, instructions for which are provided in the notice the DOT mailed.  The informal appeal is addressed by a department reviewing officer.  The informal appeal result will be mailed.  Should you not prevail on the informal appeal you will be provided a date by which you will need to request a contested case hearing.  The contested case is a telephone hearing that is held with an administrative law judge from the Department of Inspections and Appeals.  Typically, the DOT does not participate in these hearings, except to submit the person’s driving record.  Ultimately, the Administrative Law Judge will make his/her proposed decision.  This decision can be appealed by either party to the Director of Driver’s Services, and can be further appealed to district court via judicial review.
            Regarding most sanctions, the filing of the informal appeal, contested hearing, and appeal of the Administrative Law Judge’s proposed decision, a stay order will be issued.  The stay order puts the pending sanction on hold until the appeal has been decided.  The stay order allows the person to continue driving as if there is no pending sanction. 
            Should you open your mailbox and discover that the DOT is attempting to suspend, revoke, bar or disqualify your driving privileges call the attorneys at Gourley, Rehkemper & Lindholm.  We can advise you what can be done to challenge the loss of your driving privileges or what steps can be done to try to mitigate the damage and disruption to your daily life.