This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

C2-00-1848

 

 

Michael Nugent,

Appellant,

 

vs.

 

Commissioner of Public Safety,

Respondent.

 

 

Filed May 29, 2001

Affirmed

Halbrooks, Judge

 

Hennepin County District Court

File No. IC478804

 

 

Matthew Engelking, Engelking Group, P.A., 335 Interchange Building, 435 Ford Road, St. Louis Park, MN 55426 (for appellant)

 

Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Max A. Keller, Assistant Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103 (for respondent)

 

 

 

            Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

HALBROOKS, Judge

            Appellant’s driver’s license was revoked and six months later he petitioned for judicial review of the revocation.  The district court dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction because appellant failed to file the petition within the statutory 30-day period.  Appellant contends that the district court erred in holding it lacked jurisdiction and that the notice-and-order-of-revocation form violates Minn. Stat. §§ 169.123 (1998) and 14.07, subd. 3(3) (2000) and his right to due process.  Because we find that the district court did not err and that the notice and order of revocation form violates neither Minnesota statutory requirements nor appellant’s constitutional due process rights, we affirm.        

FACTS

On December 17, 1999, appellant Michael Nugent was arrested for driving while intoxicated.  He received the notice and order of revocation from the officer at the time of his arrest, and his license was revoked.

            On December 30, 1999, appellant, realizing he must “act quickly to get [his] license back,” wrote to the Minneapolis Police Department requesting a copy of the police report.  Appellant subsequently received a copy of the public data report, but it did not provide much information.  In mid-March, with the help of an unidentified third party, appellant obtained a copy of a memorandum reflecting the City Attorney’s opinion that there was no good-faith basis for the stop of appellant’s car.  Appellant then hired an attorney and filed a petition for administrative review of the revocation on March 29, 2000.  On April 7, 2000, the Department of Public Safety sustained the revocation.  On June 13, 2000, appellant filed an implied-consent petition.  Respondent, the Commissioner of Public Safety, filed a motion to dismiss the petition on the ground that it was not filed within 30 days of receipt of the notice and order of revocation. 

Following a hearing, the court issued an order granting respondent’s motion to dismiss.  The court held that it lacked jurisdiction because appellant did not file a petition within the 30-day statutory period and the court did not have the power to extend or modify that limitation. 

            This appeal follows.

D E C I S I O N

I.

Appellant argues that the district court erred in finding that it was without jurisdiction because he believes that he did not receive adequate notice of the intent to revoke.  Jurisdiction is a legal question, which this court reviews de novo.  Frost-Benco Elec. Ass’n v. Minnesota Pub. Utils. Comm’n, 358 N.W.2d 639, 642 (Minn. 1984).   

Although a driver may request an administrative review of a license revocation, petition for judicial review must occur within 30 days of receipt of the notice and order of revocation.  Minn. Stat. § 169.123, subds. 5b, 5c (1998).[1]  As the form notes, the administrative action is “independent and separate of the actions taken on the criminal charge of DWI/refusal.”

The Minnesota Supreme Court has recognized that the 30-day statute of limitations period for perfecting judicial challenges to revocations under Minn. Stat. § 169.123 (1998) is jurisdictional in nature.  Winchester v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 306 N.W.2d 899, 900 (Minn. 1981).  The Winchester decision further established that the 30-day filing period should be strictly construed.  Id. 

The district court noted that despite appellant’s alleged confusion over the “legal jargon” in the notice, “it is clear” from the notice that “time is of the essence” and that failure to act is fatal.  We agree.  Because appellant received the form notice on December 17, 1999, at the time of his arrest, yet did not file for judicial review until June 13, 2000, well beyond the 30-day statue of limitations, the district court did not err in finding it lacked jurisdiction. 

II.

Appellant also argues that the district court should not decide the jurisdiction issues without first deciding the statutory and constitutional adequacy of the notice.

Under Minn. Stat. § 169.128 (1998), the Commissioner of Public Safety has the power to promulgate rules to carry out the DWI statutes. 

The rules may include forms for notice of intention to revoke, which shall describe clearly the right to a hearing, the procedure for requesting a hearing, and the consequences of failure to request a hearing * * * .

 

Id. (emphasis added).  In addition, Minn. Stat. § 14.07, subd. 3(3) (2000), provides that when drafting forms, the revisor shall, “to the extent practicable, use plain language in rules and avoid technical language.”

Appellant argues that the notice-and-order-of-revocation form violates Minnesota statutes because the “highly technical and confusing words” do not clearly describe the right to a hearing, the procedures necessary to receive a hearing, and the consequences of the failure to request a hearing within 30 days.  Appellant also notes that the language regarding appellant’s right of judicial review is printed on the back of the form.

We find that the language of the notice sufficiently informs drivers of their rights.  The revocation form states that drivers “have the right to an administrative review of an order of revocation” and “the right to petition for judicial review.”  In addition, the notice informs drivers how to obtain the forms for the administrative review, and it warns drivers that, if they do not petition “exactly as prescribed” in the statutes, the right to judicial review is lost.  Appellant argues that the form is deficient under the statutes because it fails to alert the driver to the bifurcated nature of the civil and criminal proceedings.  But under the heading of “general information,” the form indicates that revocation under the implied-consent law is “an administrative action which is independent and separate of the actions taken on the criminal charge.”  Appellant himself acknowledges that he understood that he had to act quickly to get his license back.  The fact that he proceeded improperly does not make the notice statutorily invalid.

III.

Finally, appellant argues that the vague language of the revocation form violates his constitutional right to due process.  In evaluating a challenge to the constitutionality of a statute, this court recognizes that the interpretation of statutes is a question of law.  In re Blilie, 494 N.W.2d 877, 881 (Minn. 1993).  We presume all statutes are constitutional.  Minn. Stat. § 645.17 (2000); Miller Brewing Co. v. State, 284 N.W.2d 353, 356 (Minn. 1979).  A statute will not be held unconstitutional unless there is a showing beyond a reasonable doubt that it violates some constitutional provision.  Olson v. Ford Motor Co., 558 N.W.2d 491, 496 (Minn. 1997).

It is well established that a driver’s license is a protectable property interest subject to due process protection.  Mackey v. Montrym, 443 U.S. 1, 10, 99 S. Ct. 2612, 2617 (1979); Heddan v. Dirkswager, 336 N.W.2d 54, 58-59 (Minn. 1983).  When the due process issue is the adequacy of notice, as in the present case, we use the analysis set out in Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank & Trust Co., 339 U.S. 306, 70 S. Ct. 652 (1950).  See, e.g., Goldsworthy v. State, Department of Public Safety, 268 N.W.2d 46, 48 (Minn. 1978); State v. Green, 351 N.W.2d 42, 43 (Minn. App. 1984).  In Mullane, the Supreme Court established that a fundamental prerequisite of due process in any proceeding was

notice reasonably calculated, under all the circumstances, to apprise interested parties of the pendency of the action and afford them an opportunity to present their objections.

 

339 U.S. at 314, 70 S. Ct. at 657 (citations omitted).  “The notice must convey the required information and must afford a reasonable time for those interested to prepare adequately and to make their appearance.” Graham v. Itasca County Planning Comm’n, 601 N.W.2d 461, 464 (Minn. App. 1999) (citations omitted).

Here, the form notice used is written in clear and easily understood language and adequately informs drivers of their obligations and rights.  The form notes explicitly that “[p]etitions must be filed in writing” within 30 days of receiving the notice.  We find that 30 days is a reasonable time to file such a petition.  In addition, the notice provides an address and telephone number that the appellant could have used to receive “[a]ny additional information.”  Moreover, appellant was arrested and had his license revoked immediately, both clear indications of the seriousness of the charges against him.  If appellant did not understand the notice, it was his responsibility to inquire further.  Although it is unfortunate for appellant that he did not understand the consequences of his failure to petition the court within 30 days, we find that the notice is constitutionally adequate. 

Affirmed.

 



[1]  Minn. Stat. §§ 169.121 to 169.123 were repealed by 2000 Minn. Laws ch. 478, art. 2, § 8(a).