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Carver v. Louisiana Department of Public Safety

Supreme Court of Louisiana

January 30, 2018

DAVID CARVER
v.
LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY

         ON APPEAL FROM THE NINETEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, FOR THE PARISH OF EAST BATON ROUGE

          CLARK, JUSTICE.

         This case concerns the constitutionality of La. R.S. 32:667, particularly paragraphs La. R.S. 32:667 (H)(3) and (I)(1)(a). Plaintiff, David T. Carver, alleged these paragraphs violated the Due Process Clauses of the United States and Louisiana Constitutions. Following the District Court's finding that the paragraphs violated the Due Process Clauses, the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, Office of Motor Vehicles (the State) directly appealed that finding to this Court. For the reasons that follow, we find that the applicable paragraphs do not violate the Due Process Clauses of the United States and Louisiana Constitutions. Thus, we reverse the District Court's judgment of unconstitutionality and remand the matter for proceedings consistent with this holding.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         In 2009, Plaintiff was arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) pursuant to La. R.S. 14:98. Plaintiff refused to submit to a chemical test for intoxication and his license was suspended for 180 days. The arrest did not result in a conviction, as Plaintiff participated in a pre-trial diversion program.

         In 2014, Plaintiff was again arrested for DWI and charged with a violation of La. R.S. 14:98. At the time of the arrest, Plaintiff again refused to submit to a chemical test for intoxication. Plaintiff later pled guilty to the DWI charge. The District Court deferred Plaintiff's sentence and placed him on one-year probation. After more than one year, the District Court dismissed the charge.

         As a result of the arrest and refusal to take the chemical test for intoxication, the State again suspended Plaintiff's driver's license, this time for one year. Plaintiff presented the District Court dismissal to the State in an attempt to reinstate his driver's license privileges. The State denied unrestricted reinstatement based on La. R.S. 32:667 (H)(3), which prohibits reinstatement of driving privileges if the person refused to submit to an approved chemical test upon a second or subsequent arrest, and upon the facts that Plaintiff was twice arrested for DWI and twice refused to submit to a chemical test for intoxication. The State then required Plaintiff to install an ignition interlock device on his vehicle as a condition to reinstatement pursuant to La. R.S. 32:667 (I)(1)(a) on the basis he had refused to submit to the chemical test for intoxication.

         Plaintiff filed a written request for an administrative hearing to review the State's suspension of his driving privileges with the Division of Administration (DOA). After the hearing, the administrative law judge affirmed the State's ruling.

         Plaintiff then filed a petition for judicial review of the State's ruling suspending his driver's license. The petition alleged that the DOA ruling violated constitutional and statutory provisions, exceeded the DOA's authority, and constituted an arbitrary and capricious exercise of discretion.

         Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a motion for declaratory judgment, seeking to have La. R.S. 32:667 (H)(3) and (I)(1)(a) declared unconstitutional.

         Prior to the hearing, the District Court informed the parties that any constitutional challenge would be preserved until after a ruling on the merits of the case, and only if necessary. After a hearing, the District Court affirmed the administrative judge's decision to suspend Plaintiff's driving privileges, ordered Plaintiff's driver's license suspended for 730 days pursuant to La. R.S. 32:667, ordered Plaintiff was eligible for a hardship driver's license, and required Plaintiff to have an interlock ignition device for the duration of the suspension period. The District Court also declined to declare La. R.S. 32:667 (H)(3) unconstitutional and refused to declare La. R.S. 32:667 (I)(1)(a) unconstitutional as an ex post facto law.

         Plaintiff then filed a motion for consideration of the constitutional challenge, re-urging his constitutional challenge of La. R.S. 32:667 (I)(1)(a) based on the District Court's decision to defer a ruling on the issues of due process and double jeopardy until after a ruling on the merits.

         On May 19, 2017, the District Court declared La. R.S. 32:667 (I)(1)(a) unconstitutional on the ground it violated due process. On May 25, 2017, the District Court amended its judgment to hold that both La. R.S. 32:667 (H)(3) and (I)(1)(a) were unconstitutional, as violating the Due Process Clauses of the United States and Louisiana Constitutions, as these provisions "mandate punitive duplicitous measures based entirely on a previous arrest, rather than on previous illegal conduct proven by any recognized burden." The District Court expressly declined to address the issue of whether La. R.S. 32:667 (H)(3) and (I)(1)(a) violate the Double Jeopardy Clause of the United States and Louisiana Constitutions.

         The State directly appealed the District Court's ruling to this Court as allowed by Article V, § 5, Paragraph D of the Louisiana Constitution.

         LAW ...


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