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Court’s Decision Affirmed – License Suspension 5 Years after DUI Conviction is Unfair

Posted on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 at 9:00 pm    

In a recent decision by the South Carolina State Court of Appeals, it was confirmed that the suspension of Anna Wilson’s driver’s license five years after her DUI conviction was unlawful. Namely, the suspension violates standards of fundamental fairness and due process rights. The decision comes after an appeal made by the DMV, which claimed the circuit court’s original ruling—that Wilson’s delayed license suspension was unfair—went against precedent set by earlier cases. The legal analysis in response to the appeal found the circumstances of the case mentioned by the DMV were not the same as the Wilson case and, therefore, the case was not sufficient evidence to uphold Wilson’s delayed license suspension.

In November 2008, Anna Wilson was arrested for a DUI by the Irmo Police Department and subsequently convicted. Following her conviction, Wilson paid all the requisite fines and completed an Alcohol and Drug Safety Program. The next year, while trying to obtain a restricted driver’s license, Wilson was informed that the DMV had no record of her DUI conviction. In response, Wilson made calls to the Irmo Town Clerk and her insurance agent to inquire why the DMV did not receive her DUI conviction ticket. Many years later, after eventually receiving a certified copy of Wilson’s DUI ticket in 2014, the DMV told Wilson that her license would be suspended because of her conviction five years prior.

Wilson immediately brought action against the DMV and a circuit court ruled the five-year administrative lag between her conviction and license suspension would violate her rights to fundamental fairness and cause her undue hardship. However, the DMV countered by filing an appeal of the decision and citing a previous case, State v. Chavis, wherein William Chavis’ license suspension one year after his conviction was upheld because it was not found to violate any due process rights.

The appeals court ruled the Chavis case differs from Wilson’s in that she actively sought resolution from her license suspension in 2009 by calling the Irmo Town Clerk and her insurance agent to inquire about the status of her conviction. Wilson’s testimony additionally stated she would have served her suspension earlier, had she known about it. These factors differ from the State v. Chavis case, wherein the court did not find a due process violation because Chavis did not seek to have his license suspension promptly ordered. Rather, he waited quietly during the administrative lag with the hope that his suspension would be overlooked or unenforced. As a result, the court noted that Chavis did not suffer any prejudice or undue burden. Furthermore, the court found that Wilson would face undue hardship from the license suspension that Chavis did not, resulting in an affirmation of the original ruling.

Navigating all of the repercussions of a DUI conviction alone can feel impossible. With so many civil and criminal penalties associated with an intoxicated driving charge, the support and counsel of a DUI attorney is urgent. If you are facing DUI charges, don’t hesitate to contact the legal team at Truslow & Truslow by calling our Columbia DUI defense attorneys at Truslow & Truslow. Our highly skilled DUI lawyers can fight for your interests and support you through this tumultuous time.

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