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Fedziuk v. Commissioner of Public Safety

May 19, 2005

PATRICIA AGNES FEDZIUK, RESPONDENT,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC SAFETY, APPELLANT.



SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. The 2003 amendments to Minnesota's Implied Consent Law, which eliminated the requirement that judicial review of the prehearing suspension of a driver's license must be "held at the earliest practicable date, and in any event no later than 60 days following the filing of the petition for review," is unconstitutional because it violates procedural due process.

2. The version of the Implied Consent Law that existed immediately before the 2003 amendments is revived.

Certified questions answered; motion denied.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hanson, Justice.

Dakota County Hanson, J.

Heard, considered, and decided by the court en banc.

OPINION

In this declaratory judgment action, respondent Patricia Fedziuk asked the district court to hold that Minnesota's Implied Consent Law, as amended in 2003, violates procedural due process. The district court determined that the Implied Consent Law's prehearing revocation procedures violate due process. Because of the statewide impact of its decision, the court stayed its order and certified two questions as "important and doubtful":

1. Does Minnesota's implied consent scheme of prehearing revocation offend a driver's state and/or federal constitutional guarantees of due process of law?

2. Is the 1980 version of the implied consent law revived by the declaration that the current implied consent law is unconstitutional? If not, what version, if any, is revived if the current law is struck down?

We granted accelerated review.

We have upheld the constitutionality of the pre-2003 versions of the Implied Consent Law in three decisions: Heddan v. Dirkswager, 336 N.W.2d 54 (Minn. 1983); Davis v. Comm'r of Public Safety, 517 N.W.2d 901 (Minn. 1994); Hamilton v. Comm'r of Public Safety, 600 N.W.2d 720 (Minn. 1999). We now hold that the 2003 amendments to the Implied Consent Law, which removed the requirement for prompt judicial review of a prehearing revocation, rendered the Implied Consent Law unconstitutional as violative of due process and that the version of the Implied Consent Law that existed immediately prior to the 2003 amendments is revived.

The essential facts are not in dispute. Fedziuk was arrested on October 23, 2003, for driving while impaired. The police officers invoked the Implied Consent Law and tested her alcohol concentration. The toxicology report from Fedziuk's blood test did not reveal alcohol in her blood, but reported that the concentration of amphetamine (a Schedule II substance) was 0.17 milligrams per liter.

On March 24, 2004, the Commissioner of Public Safety informed Fedziuk that her driver's license would be revoked for 90 days, effective April 3, 2004. See Minn. Stat. § 169A.52, subd. 4(a)(1) (2002). On April 2, 2004, Fedziuk requested administrative review of the revocation. With that request, Fedziuk raised an affirmative defense under Minn. Stat. § 169A.46 (2004)*fn1 that the presence of the schedule II controlled substance in her system at the time of her arrest was pursuant to a prescription. She included a letter from her medical doctor stating that she had been taking prescription medication, but the letter did not indicate whether Fedziuk ...


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