This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Roberto Laniado, petitioner,
Commissioner of Public Safety,
Filed June 5, 2007
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 27-CV-06-4653
Stephen V. Grigsby,
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Melissa Eberhart, Joel A. Watne, Assistant Attorneys General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101-2134 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Hudson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant Roberto Laniado challenges the district court’s order sustaining the Commissioner of Public Safety’s cancellation and denial of appellant’s driver’s license and dismissing appellant’s petition for judicial review of his license revocation. Because appellant’s driving privileges were subject to a total-abstinence restriction, and because appellant violated the restriction by consuming alcohol, we affirm.
The facts of this case are not in
dispute. On September 7, 2000, appellant’s
driver’s license became subject to a total-abstinence restriction. The duration of the restriction was for “as
long as [appellant] lived and wished to remain licensed to drive in
On the evening of February 10, 2006, a Corcoran police officer stopped appellant for speeding. The officer administered a breath test to appellant, which indicated that appellant had consumed alcohol. Appellant admitted to the officer that he regularly consumes alcohol but makes sure not to go over the legal limit.
After checking appellant’s driver’s record through the mobile terminal in the officer’s squad car, the officer discovered that appellant’s driving privileges were subject to a total-abstinence restriction. The officer informed appellant about the restriction, to which appellant replied that he was unaware that he was still subject to the restriction. Apparently, the Department of Public Safety’s agents failed to timely designate on appellant’s driver’s license the existence of the restriction. Consequently, on February 10, 2006, appellant was in possession of a driver’s license that did not indicate that his license was subject to a total-abstinence restriction.
On February 23, 2006, the commissioner cancelled and denied as inimical to public safety appellant’s driver’s license for violating the total-abstinence restriction. Appellant appealed to the district court. After a de novo bench trial at which appellant testified, the district court concluded that appellant had actual and constructive notice of the restriction; that the law did not require that the total-abstinence restriction be designated on appellant’s driver’s license; and that appellant was not entitled to a license. This appeal follows.
Appellant challenges the district
court’s order sustaining the commissioner’s cancellation and denial of his
driver’s license, arguing that the commissioner is estopped from canceling and
denying his license. The issue of
estoppel is ordinarily a question of fact, but “when only one inference can be
drawn from the facts, the question is one of law.” In re
Westling Mfg., Inc., 442 N.W.2d 328, 331 (Minn. App. 1989) (quotation
omitted) (discussing the proper standard of review to be used in estoppel
cases), review denied (Minn. Aug. 25,
court reviews the district court’s factual findings for clear error. In re
Hutchinson, 440 N.W.2d 171, 175 (Minn. App. 1989), review denied (Minn. Aug. 9, 1989); see
commissioner may impose restrictions on a driver’s license.
Here, it is undisputed that appellant violated the total-abstinence restriction on his driver’s license. But appellant argues that the commissioner should be estopped from revoking his license because, due to a departmental error, the restriction was not designated on his license. Estoppel should not be freely applied against the government, but instead should only be sparingly used. Ramirez, 597 N.W.2d at 577–78. The party attempting to estop the government has a heavy burden of proof. In re Westling, 442 N.W.2d at 332.
is applied against the government when justice requires and the equities
advanced by appellant are sufficiently great.
Mesaba Aviation Div. of Halvorson
of Duluth, Inc. v.
equities advanced by appellant as to his reliance on the lack of the abstinence
designation on his license are not persuasive because in September 2000 he
signed a last-drink statement acknowledging his life-long total-abstinence
restriction. Moreover, assuming arguendo
that appellant actually relied on the department’s administrative error, he has
not offered any evidence on the most important element of an equitable estoppel
claim, namely that the department engaged in affirmative misconduct. Based on the record, it appears that the
department’s error amounts to simple inadvertence, mistake, or imperfect
conduct. In addition, the law only
requires a license to (1) designate the type of vehicle(s) that can be
operated; (2) bear a distinguishing number; and (3) show the licensee’s full
name, date of birth, address, physical description, and usual signature.