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* * Court Strkes Down Licensing Laws * *

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  • victoryusa@jail4judges.org
    J.A.I.L. News Journal ______________________________________________________ Los Angeles, California June 6,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 6, 2004
      J.A.I.L. News Journal
      Los Angeles, California                                                    June 6, 2004

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      Court strikes down licensing laws
      By Sara Jean Green
      Seattle Times Eastside Bureau

      The state Supreme Court issued a sweeping ruling yesterday (approximately June 3, 2004 - exact date not given) that could
      mean thousands of people whose driver's licenses were suspended won't
      be prosecuted.

      In a 5-4 ruling, the court struck down two state statutes as
      unconstitutional because the laws don't provide for an administrative
      hearing or an appeal procedure and thus deny individuals due process
      guaranteed by the Constitution.

      At issue is the state Department of Licensing's (DOL) lack of a formal
      hearing or appeal process for people whose licenses were suspended
      after they didn't appear in court or pay traffic tickets.

      Yesterday, state and city attorneys were scrambling to understand the
      full implications of the ruling. In Seattle, the ruling could have serious
      ramifications - and a huge financial impact - because of the city's
      controversial impound policies, which the City Council recently voted
      to scrap for drivers cited for third-degree license suspensions.

      Drivers arrested for third-degree license suspensions typically have their
      licenses lifted because they failed to pay tickets for minor traffic
      violations, such as speeding. In contrast, drivers arrested for first- and
      second-degree license suspensions are those whose licenses were
      suspended for being habitual traffic offenders, driving while intoxicated,
      reckless driving and other serious traffic offenses.

      "It seems to me that any (third-degree) license suspension in the state of
      Washington is currently unconstitutional because it doesn't comply with
      due process," said Donna Tucker, one of two Bellevue attorneys who
      argued before the Supreme Court to have the statutes struck.

      Potential for error

      The case was brought before the Supreme Court after the city of
      Redmond sought direct review of a King County District Court decision
      to dismiss charges against two men, Jason Wilson and Dean Moore, for
      driving with suspended licenses.

      Wilson's license was suspended for failing to deal with a speeding
      ticket, and Moore's was lifted for failing to resolve a citation for
      driving without liability insurance. A district-court judge concluded
      the suspensions didn't comply with due process because DOL failed to
      provide the opportunity for an administrative hearing and so dismissed
      the charges.

      In writing for the majority, Justice Richard Sanders said the statutes
      "are contrary to the guaranty of due process because they do not
      provide adequate procedural safeguards to ensure against the erroneous
      deprivation of a driver's interest in the continued use and possession
      of his or her driver's license."

      There is substantial potential for error in DOL decisions to revoke a
      driver's license, especially given that DOL issues some 300,000
      suspension notices a year based on information from the courts,
      Sanders wrote. When a driver receives notice his or her license is to
      be suspended, the individual has 30 days to resolve the issue in court.

      "He or she is not, however, offered any procedure to contest the
      suspension other than being instructed by the notice to resolve the
      matter with the court," Sanders wrote. "The public is left to its own
      devices to secure a timely hearing from a court to reverse the error
      before the suspension takes effect."

      Burden on DOL

      But in a seven-page dissenting opinion written by Justice Bobbe
      Bridge, four justices argued that just because there's a potential for
      error, no evidence was provided to show a pattern of erroneous license

      The dissenting justices also pointed out that requiring DOL to give an
      administrative hearing to anyone whose license is suspended would
      require vast public resources for the staff, time and space to conduct
      such hearings.

      "The majority seizes upon the scant record in these cases to answer a
      question that has not been raised by any party and in so doing
      stretches the requirements of due process beyond precedent and common sense - establishing no clear benefit for the licensees and burdening an administrative system designed by the Legislature to provide swift determination for the protection of the motoring public," Bridge wrote.

      Gerald Anderson, an assistant attorney general who advised DOL on the
      case, said his office is still trying to digest the court's ruling. Because the court struck down the statutes, it's unlikely DOL can devise an administrative remedy, he said, adding "it's too early to speculate what legislative remedies are possible."

      A Redmond city prosecutor and a DOL spokesman would not comment
      yesterday, both saying they needed more time to analyze the decision.

      Financial impact

      The impact could be huge for Seattle, which has seized, towed and held
      almost 5,000 vehicles a year from drivers with third-degree license
      suspensions. Roughly 30 percent of those vehicles are scheduled for
      auction because their owners could not pay fees, fines and storage
      charges. But the city doesn't track how many are sold, said Kathryn
      Harper, spokeswoman for the City Attorney's Office.

      Some lawyers believe the city faces potential financial liability for
      vehicles seized under its Operation Impound program.

      "I think a strong argument can be made that all seizures were unlawful
      and drivers deserve compensation. This would be additional legal basis
      for that argument," said Lisa Daugaard, a public defender and outspoken critic of Seattle's impound law.

      The number of drivers who might seek compensation, the amount they
      might want and the validity of their claims remain to be seen.

      But a very rough estimate of $10 million in damages is reasonable, said Adam Berger, an attorney who has brought a class-action lawsuit against the city's former policy, which was in effect from 2000 to late 2002. After that, police officers exercised discretion but still impounded the vehicles of 80 percent of the drivers they cited for third-degree license suspensions.

      Berger's estimate is based on the premise that there could be 10,000
      drivers seeking compensation, with claims of about $1,000 each, on

      Meanwhile, impound opponents who pushed the City Council to dump the controversial impound law in a 6-2 vote two weeks ago said the court's decision validated their arguments.

      "It's a welcome decision as far as I'm concerned," said Councilwoman
      Jean Godden, who co-sponsored the ordinance to repeal the impound policy.

      Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels signed the ordinance into law yesterday.

      Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or
      sgreen@.... Times staff
      reporter Bob Young contributed to this report.

      Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

      Multiple thousands of Christians across this country, with long-held outstanding driving records, are now being deprived of their property interest in the renewal (not suspension) of their driver's licenses purely because of their conscience toward God regarding Social Security Numbers. The states, without due process, or any hearing whatsoever, are now proceeding on a newly created "Crime" of "Driving Without A Social Security Number." It seems that the Social Security Number has now become more of interest to the state than one's ability to drive safely. This rule is only being applied to U.S. Citizens, not to foreigners.
      One man, who was harassed and grilled in jail for a Social Security Number, was deprived of the use of a bathroom purely for lack of a SSN, forcing him to have to use the floor. He told the police that even if they placed his head in a guillotine, they could not derive a SSN from him. However, he did offer to rattle off some random numbers for them if he could use the bathroom.
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