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Wilson v. S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

January 11, 2017

Anna Dillard Wilson, Respondent,
v.
S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, Appellant. Appellate Case No. 2015-000887

          Submitted December 1, 2016

         Appeal From Richland County L. Casey Manning, Circuit Court Judge.

         AFFIRMED.

          Frank L. Valenta, Jr., Philip S. Porter, and Brandy Anne Duncan, all of Blythewood, for Appellant.

          John D. Elliott, of Law Offices of John D. Elliott, P.A., of Columbia, for Respondent.

          WILLIAMS, J.

         The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (the DMV) appeals the circuit court's order enjoining the DMV from suspending Anna Dillard Wilson's driver's license five years after her conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). We affirm.

         FACTS/PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On November 22, 2008, an officer with the Irmo Police Department arrested Wilson for DUI. Subsequently, on June 11, 2009, Wilson pleaded guilty to the same offense before the Irmo Municipal Court.[1] Following her conviction, Wilson paid the requisite fines and enrolled in and completed the Alcohol and Drug Safety Program (ADSAP). In August 2009, Wilson contacted a local DMV branch to obtain a restricted driver's license. However, the DMV informed her there was no DUI conviction on her record. Wilson then contacted the Irmo Town Clerk and was informed her DUI ticket was sent to the DMV on July 1, 2009. Thereafter, Wilson contacted her insurance agent, who then went to another local DMV branch to inquire about the conviction, but was similarly told that no DUI conviction existed on Wilson's record.

         The DMV regularly conducts audits of all outstanding tickets for the previous year in every jurisdiction that issues a traffic citation, including the Irmo Police Department. Wilson's DUI ticket was included in the audit reports for 2010, 2011, and 2013.[2] The 2010 and 2011 audit reports indicated the ticket was "in court, " and the 2013 audit report indicated the ticket was sent to the DMV. However, the DMV did not have a record of receiving the ticket in 2013, and that same year, the DMV requested the Irmo Police Department send a certified copy of the ticket. Eventually, on May 20, 2014, the DMV received a certified copy of Wilson's ticket. On May 27, 2014, four working days after receiving the ticket and nearly five years after the DUI conviction, the DMV notified Wilson that her driver's license would be suspended as a result of her June 2009 DUI conviction.

         On June 9, 2014, Wilson brought an action against the DMV in the circuit court for declaratory and injunctive relief. Wilson also moved for a temporary restraining order, which the circuit court granted. Following a hearing on the issues, the circuit court issued an order on March 23, 2015, permanently enjoining the DMV from suspending Wilson's driver's license. In addition to finding that Wilson had no other remedy at law, the court found the five-year lapse between Wilson's conviction and her suspension would deprive her of fundamental fairness required by due process and cause her undue hardship. This appeal followed.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "Actions for injunctive relief are equitable in nature." Hipp v. S.C. Dep't of Motor Vehicles, 381 S.C. 323, 324, 673 S.E.2d 416, 416 (2009) (per curiam) (quoting Shaw v. Coleman, 373 S.C. 485, 492, 645 S.E.2d 252, 256 (Ct. App. 2007)). In an action in equity, an appellate court may find facts in accordance with its own view of the preponderance of the evidence. Id. at 325, 673 S.E.2d at 416.

         LA ...


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