The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear arguments about Ramsey County’s practice of charging people “booking fees” when they are arrested, whether or not they are ever found guilty of anything.
Just being suspected of wrong-doing, even if later found “not guilty,” still can mean losing your job, your driver’s license, and your property. I will address each in separate blog posts this week.
Yesterday, in “Part I,” I discussed how the DHS can (and will) disqualify you for your job, even as a medical doctor, if you’re so much as accused of any of 150 crimes, some as minor as harassing phone calls, even if you’re found not guilty.
You can also lose your driver’s license and be saddled with a DWI-related offense on your driving record for being charged, even if found not guilty.
Part II: Your Driver’s License
Automatic license revocation upon arrest
I have no beef with drunk drivers losing their licenses for a period of time. I do object to people who are accused of drunk driving losing their license even after they are found innocent of the charges!
Under the Implied Consent law, your driver’s license is revoked when you’re arrested for DWI as a form of civil punishment.
Just being suspected of wrong-doing, even if later found “not guilty,” still can mean losing your job, your driver’s license, and your property.
The criminal consequences come only after a conviction, but the driver’s license revocation is immediate.
Lawsuit must be filed
After the automatic license revocation, you have 30 days to file a lawsuit against the State of Minnesota (“Bob Smith v. Commissioner of Public Safety”) to even have a chance of getting your license back.
If you don’t file that lawsuit, and win it, you lose your license even if you’re found not guilty of driving while impaired.
Let me be as clear as I can
Assume Bob is arrested for DWI because an over-zealous, but well-meaning, policeman observes poor driving after midnight on a Saturday and he arrests Bob and charges him with DWI.
He wants Bob to take a urine test, but since he doesn’t have a warrant, Bob doesn’t have to.
The license revocation stays on his record as a prior offense for DWI purposes
The State eventually drops the charges (because, seriously, not every single person of the 40,000 arrested annually in Minnesota for DWI is guilty, and if you assume cops get it right 95% of the time, that’s still 2,000 innocent people charged every year).
But knowing he was sober, Bob never sued the Commissioner of Public Safety, because why would he?
No driving for 90 days — and it stays on your record
Bob will still lose his license for three months (90 days). That means no driving to and from work, to buy groceries, to take the kids to soccer practice.
And here’s the real punch in the gut: that license revocation stays on his record as a prior offense for DWI purposes if he ever does get charged again or if someone looks up his driving record.