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Hamre v. North Dakota Dept. of Transportation

Supreme Court of North Dakota

February 13, 2014

Michael A. HAMRE, Appellant
v.
NORTH DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Appellee.

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Douglas Bruce Anderson, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Attorney General, Bismarck, ND, for appellee.

Timothy Charles Lamb, Grand Forks, ND, for appellant.

CROTHERS, Justice.

[¶ 1] Michael A. Hamre appeals a district court order affirming a North Dakota Department of Transportation (" DOT" ) order disqualifying his commercial driver's license for one year. Hamre argues that DOT misapplied the law by considering the administrative suspension of his noncommercial license a " conviction" under N.D.C.C. § 39-06.2-10(7) (2011), that N.D.C.C. § 39-06.2-10(7) (2011) is void for vagueness, that the one-year suspension of his driving privileges commenced on May 29, 2012, rather than on January 13, 2013 and that he is entitled to attorney fees and costs. We affirm.

I

[¶ 2] Hamre, a truck driver from Petersburg, North Dakota, was arrested on May 3, 2012 for driving under the influence. A Grand Forks County Deputy Sheriff issued a report and notice to Hamre on May 3, 2012. Hamre's Class D noncommercial license was suspended for ninety-one days, beginning May 28, 2012. DOT issued an order of disqualification for Hamre's commercial license on May 29, 2012, suspending Hamre's commercial driving privileges for one year beginning June 18, 2012. The disqualification order notified Hamre that if he requested a hearing, disqualification would be postponed pending a final decision. Hamre requested a hearing, and an administrative hearing was held on June 29, 2012. The hearing was continued to August 17, 2012 to allow Hamre to file a petition for writ of mandamus to argue he was not given a report and notice as part of his May 3, 2012 arrest. The district court denied Hamre's petition for writ of mandamus on August 14, 2012.

[¶ 3] A DOT hearing officer issued a recommended decision on December 24, 2012. The hearing officer concluded the administrative suspension of a noncommercial driver's license is a " conviction" for purposes of a commercial driver's license disqualification. The hearing officer interpreted N.D.C.C. § 39-06.2-10(7) (2011) using the definition of conviction found in N.D.C.C. § 39-06.2-02(8) (2011). Hamre requested reconsideration of the hearing officer's recommended decision based upon the dismissal of his criminal charge stemming from the May 3, 2012 DUI. The hearing officer denied Hamre's petition for reconsideration because an administrative suspension is not affected by a judicial acquittal or charge reduction. DOT disqualified Hamre's commercial driver's license for one year beginning January 13, 2013.

[¶ 4] Hamre appealed DOT's order to the district court, arguing that DOT erroneously

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applied chapter 39-06.2, N.D.C.C., and that the statute is unconstitutionally vague and ambiguous. The district court held the May 28, 2012 suspension of Hamre's noncommercial driving privileges is an offense meriting suspension of his commercial driving privileges. The district court also held a " conviction" for the purposes of suspending driving privileges can arise from administrative determinations. The district court declined to address Hamre's argument about the commencement date of his commercial driver's license disqualification because it was not included in his specifications of error. The district court entered judgment on June 24, 2013. Hamre appeals.

II

[¶ 5] The Administrative Agencies Practice Act, N.D.C.C. ch. 28-32, governs the review of an administrative agency decision to suspend a person's driving privileges. Painte v. Dep't of Transp.,2013 ND 95, ¶ 6, 832 N.W.2d 319. This Court reviews the agency's decision on appeal from the district court. Id. " Courts exercise limited review in appeals from administrative agency decisions, and the agency's decision is accorded great deference." Id. (quoting Berger v. N.D. Dep't of Transp., 2011 ND 55, ¶ 5, 795 N.W.2d 707). " We review an administrative agency decision under ...


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