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Nelson v. Director of Revenue

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, First Division

September 22, 2016

RANDALL A. NELSON, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
DIRECTOR OF REVENUE, Respondent-Respondent.

         APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CAMDEN COUNTY Honorable Matthew P. Hamner

          DON E. BURRELL, J.

         The Director of Revenue ("the Director") revoked the driving privileges of Randall A. Nelson ("Driver")[1] for ten years under section 302.060.1(9)[2] after Driver received his third conviction for driving while intoxicated ("DWI"). Driver filed a petition in the circuit court seeking limited driving privileges under section 302.309.3. The Director filed a motion to dismiss Driver's petition on the ground that Driver was ineligible for such relief under section 302.309.3(6)(b) because Driver had "a conviction for a felony the commission of which involved a motor vehicle."

         The circuit court granted the Director's motion to dismiss, and Driver now appeals, claiming in a single point that he was eligible for limited driving privileges because "the actual triggering offense which resulted in the revocation of [his] driving privilege[s] was a misdemeanor." Finding no merit in this claim, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court.

         Standard of Review

         We review a trial court's judgment sustaining a motion to dismiss de novo. Mills v. Dir. of Revenue, 407 S.W.3d 124, 125 (Mo. App. E.D. 2013). "When, as here, the facts of a case are uncontested and the resolution of the issue turns solely on the interpretation of pertinent statutes, a question as to the authority of the trial court to hear the petition is purely a question of law, which is also reviewed de novo." Id. (internal quotation and brackets omitted).

         Uncontested Facts and Procedural Background

         Driver was convicted of misdemeanor DWI on December 3, 1997. On February 16, 2001, Driver was convicted of felony DWI and felony driving while revoked or suspended ("DWR"). Based upon the February 16th felony convictions, the Director issued a points revocation of Driver's license that remained in effect until May 9, 2001.[3]

         On November 7, 2012, Driver was convicted of misdemeanor DWI. As this constituted Driver's third conviction for DWI, the Director imposed the ten-year suspension that prompted Driver's petition for limited driving privileges. Driver filed his "PETITION TO REVIEW REVOCATION OF DRIVER'S LICENSE" pursuant to section 302.060 on August 31, 2015. The Director responded with a motion to dismiss that claimed section 302.309.3(6)(b) prohibited the circuit court from granting Driver a limited driving privilege because he had been convicted of felony DWI in 2001. After holding a hearing on the motion, the circuit court dismissed Driver's petition, [4] and this appeal timely followed.

         Analysis

         Driver argues that section 302.309.3(6)(b) does not bar him from obtaining limited driving privileges because "while [Driver] has previously been convicted of a felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle was used, the actual triggering offense which resulted in the revocation of [Driver]'s driving privilege was a misdemeanor." We disagree.

         Two statutes govern the outcome of this appeal. Section 302.060 prohibits the Director from issuing licenses to people who fall within certain categories. Mobley, 49 S.W.3d at 179. "Section 302.309 . . . sets out the circumstances under which the Director may return a suspended or revoked license; the court or [the] Director may grant limited driving privileges." Id.

         The Director must deny driving privileges to anyone who has been convicted of more than two DWI's. Section 302.060.1(9). During the ten-year denial period, a driver may petition for limited driving privileges if "he is not otherwise ineligible for limited driving privileges under Section 302.309.3." Mills, 407 S.W.3d at 127 (quoting Mansheim v. Dir. of Revenue, 357 S.W.3d 273, 276 (Mo. App. E.D. 2012)).[5] Section 302.309.3(6) lists several acts that make a driver "otherwise ineligible" for limited driving privileges. As relevant here, any person "whose license at the time of application has been suspended or revoked for . . . . [a] conviction of any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle was used" is "otherwise ineligible for a limited driving privilege[.]" Sections 302.309.3(6)(b) and 302.309.3(8)(a).

         Driver's case is similar to Hagan v. Dir. of Revenue, 968 S.W.2d 704 (Mo. banc 1998). In that case, Hagan had received a ten-year denial of his driving privileges for accruing multiple DWI convictions, one of which was a felony. Id. at 705. Our supreme court determined that because Hagan had violated section 302.309.3(5) (now numbered 302.309.3(6)(b)), he was held to be "otherwise ineligible" for a limited driving privilege under section 302.309.3(6)(a) (now numbered 302.309.3(8)(a)).[6] Id. at 707. Hagan argued (as Driver does here) that his felony DWI conviction should only bar a limited driving privilege until the point revocation associated with his felony conviction had lapsed. Id. at 706. The Court rejected this argument, found that the provisions of 302.309 provided clear guidance, and held that Hagan was not eligible for limited driving privileges during the ten-year denial of his driving privileges pursuant to section 302.060. Id. at 706-07.

         Here, Driver's driving privileges were suspended for ten years pursuant to section 302.060.1(9) for accruing more than two DWI convictions. Driver previously had his license suspended for felony DWI and felony DWR-two felonies in the commission of which a motor vehicle was used. As a result, Driver was "otherwise ...


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