This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).


Matthew John Newago,


Commissioner of Public Safety,

Filed January 11, 2000
Reversed and remanded
Halbrooks, Judge

Hennepin County District Court
File No. IC 476 645


Peter J. Timmons, Metro Office Park, 2850 Metro Drive, Suite 321, Bloomington, MN 55425-1411 (for respondent)

Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Jeffrey F. Lebowski, Michael R. Pahl, Assistant Attorneys General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103 (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


Appellant Commissioner of Public Safety (commissioner) appeals the district court’s order rescinding respondent Matthew Newago’s driver’s-license revocation. The commissioner contends (1) Newago did not have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the limited discovery provisions of Minn. Stat. § 169.123, subd. 5c(d) (1998); (2) the district court erred in concluding the limited discovery provisions violate the separation-of-powers doctrine; and (3) the district court abused its discretion by rescinding the revocation of Newago’s license without ordering additional discovery or giving the commissioner notice of the potential rescission. Because we find Newago lacks standing to bring this constitutional challenge, we reverse and remand to the district court.


Newago was arrested for driving while intoxicated. His driving privileges were later revoked based on his refusal to submit to alcohol testing. Newago requested judicial review of his license revocation and a hearing was held before the district court.

At the hearing, Newago argued that his right to counsel was not vindicated and that his refusal to submit to testing was a result of the officer’s improper and inappropriate reading of the implied-consent advisory. Additionally, Newago asserted that the mandatory limited discovery provisions of the implied-consent statute, Minn. Stat. § 169.123, subd. 5c(d) (1998), violate the separation-of-powers doctrine, and in order to state the facts in his petition for rescission with specificity, further discovery would be necessary.

The district court found that the mandatory limited discovery provisions violated the separation-of-powers doctrine, and ordered the rescission of the revocation of Newago’s driving privileges. The district court did not address the issue of whether or not Newago had standing to raise this constitutional challenge to the limited discovery provisions.

The commissioner filed a motion for reconsideration requesting a reversal of the district court’s order with respect to the separation-of-powers doctrine. At the motion hearing, the commissioner argued that Newago had no standing to challenge the discovery limitation because no discovery outside that allowed by the statute had been pursued. In response, Newago argued that there was no good-faith basis for pursuing discovery specifically declared illegal by state law. He also argued that the discovery responses would have been of assistance in his case because of the issues involving the arresting officer’s actions. The district court did not issue a ruling on the commissioner’s motion prior to the commissioner’s filing of the instant appeal.


Review of the constitutionality of a statute is a question of law, which this court considers de novo. Moe v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 574 N.W.2d 96, 98 (Minn. App. 1998), review denied (Minn. Apr. 14, 1998).

Minnesota statutes are presumed constitutional, and [this court’s] power to declare a statute unconstitutional should be exercised with extreme caution and only when absolutely necessary.

In re Haggerty, 448 N.W.2d 363, 364 (Minn. 1989). The party challenging the constitutionality of the statute has the burden of demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt a violation of the constitution. Id.

On appeal, the commissioner argues Newago did not have standing to challenge the constitutionality of Minn. Stat. § 169.123, subd. 5c(d) (1998), because he did not demonstrate a direct and personal harm resulting from the application of the statute. The trial court did not specifically address the issue of standing, but this does not preclude us from addressing it on appeal because a challenge to standing may be made at any time. Lucio v. School Bd. of Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 625, 574 N.W.2d 737, 739 n.2 (Minn. App. 1998) ("[A] party’s standing to bring a claim may be raised at any time." (citation omitted)), review denied (Minn. Apr. 30, 1998).

To challenge the constitutionality of a statute a party must first demonstrate "a direct and personal harm resulting from the alleged denial of constitutional rights." Davis v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 509 N.W.2d 380, 391 (Minn. App. 1993) (quoting City of Minneapolis v. Wurtele, 291 N.W.2d 386, 392 (Minn. 1980)), aff’d, 517 N.W.2d 901 (Minn. 1994). The party challenging the constitutionality of the statute must be able to show that the statute has been or is about to be applied to their disadvantage. In re D.L., 479 N.W.2d 408, 412 (Minn. App. 1991), aff’d, 486 N.W.2d 375 (Minn. 1992).

On the record before us, we conclude Newago has failed to make this showing. Although Newago argued that the statutory limits on discovery prohibited his ability to present his case at the implied-consent hearing, he did not attempt to conduct any discovery outside the parameters of the statute. The existence of the statute alone does not necessarily mean that Newago was harmed, or would be harmed, by its application. See Wurtele, 291 N.W.2d at 393 ("[T]here is no standing to raise a constitutional challenge absent a direct and personal harm resulting from the alleged denial of constitutional rights.").

Moreover, Newago’s argument is meritless that because he was compelled by law to proceed subject to the statutory discovery limitations, application of the statute was imminent at the time he challenged the statute’s constitutionality. Contrary to Newago’s contention, he was not precluded from making a good-faith attempt to obtain additional discovery. Both Minn. R. Civ. P. 11 and Minn. Stat. § 549.211 (1998) recognize attorneys may make good-faith arguments for the "extension, modification, or reversal of existing law." Thus, Newago did not demonstrate the imminent harm necessary for standing to challenge the constitutionality of the statutory discovery provisions.

Reversed and remanded.