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Thomas Richard Thole v. Commissioner of Public Safety

April 29, 2013

THOMAS RICHARD THOLE, APPELLANT,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC SAFETY, RESPONDENT.



Dakota County District Court File No. 19HA-CV121127

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

SYLLABUS Indigent parties have no due-process right to court-appointed legal counsel in implied-consent proceedings.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stauber, Judge

Affirmed

Considered and decided by Stauber, Presiding Judge; Connolly, Judge; and Bjorkman, Judge.

OPINION

STAUBER, Judge

Appellant challenges the revocation of his driver's license, arguing that the absence of court-appointed legal counsel in his implied-consent matter violated his due- process rights. Appellant also contends that because the notice and order of revocation failed to offer court-appointed legal counsel, the statutory deadline in which to file a petition for judicial review never commenced, making appellant's late petition timely. Because indigent parties in implied-consent proceedings have no right to court-appointed legal counsel, the notice and order of revocation was proper and appellant's petition for judicial review was untimely. We affirm.

FACTS

On or about December 23, 2011, appellant Thomas Thole was arrested for driving while impaired ("DWI"). After hearing the implied consent advisory, Thole submitted to a urine test, which indicated an alcohol concentration of 0.16. On February 2, 2012, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS), mailed Thole a notice and order of revocation notifying him that his driving privileges would be revoked due to his driving with an alcohol concentration of 0.16.

Thirty-five days later, on March 8, 2012, Thole served and filed a petition for judicial review of the order. Thole contends that he was indigent at the time he received the notice and order and that his first opportunity to retain legal counsel was on March 8, the day he filed the petition. The commissioner moved to dismiss Thole's petition for lack of jurisdiction because the petition was untimely served and filed. Thole argued that his due-process rights were violated when he was not provided court-appointed legal counsel or information on court-appointed legal counsel in the notice and order, and that the statute of limitations on Thole's petition for judicial review was suspended as a result. The district court dismissed the matter, sustaining the revocation.

On appeal, Thole contends that his due-process rights were violated when he was not provided access to court-appointed legal counsel in his implied-consent matter. He further contends that the commissioner's failure to provide him information on legal counsel in the notice and order of revocation suspended the statute of limitations, making his petition timely.

ISSUES

1. Did the district court properly conclude that it lacked jurisdiction to review Thole's petition for judicial ...


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