Petition for Writ of
Certiorari to Review Quasi-Judicial Action, Department of Highway Safety and
Motor Vehicles: DRIVER’S LICENSES – revocation of license
based on accumulation of points – Department departed from the essential
requirements of law in calculating Petitioner’s points – Department provided no
explanation as to why it took 5 years to assess points for infraction cited in
2000 – date Petitioner failed to take driver improvement course, January 3,
2001, was date of conviction and when points should have been assessed - Petition
granted. Kuzmicz v. Dept. of Highway
Safety and Motor Vehicles, No. 05-0080AP-88A (
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
ROBERT ADAM KUZMICZ,
vs. Appeal No. 05-0080AP-88A
HIGHWAY SAFETY AND MOTOR VEHICLES,
DIVISION OF DRIVER LICENSES,
THIS CAUSE came before the Court on the Petition for Writ of Certiorari and the Response. Upon consideration of the same, the record and being otherwise fully advised, the Court finds that the Petition must be granted as set forth below.
Petitioner, Robert Adam Kuzmicz (Kuzmicz), seeks review of the Order of License
Revocation, Suspension, or Cancellation, entered August 29, 2005, in which the
Respondent, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (Department),
automatically suspended Kuzmicz’s driver’s license for receiving 24 points
within 36 months in violation of Florida Statutes, § 322.27(3). In reviewing the Order and the administrative
action taken by the Department, this Court must determine whether Kuzmicz was
afforded procedural due process, whether the essential requirements of law were
observed, and whether the Department’s findings and judgment are supported by
competent substantial evidence. See
Vichich v. Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 799 So.2d
1069, 1073 (
The record shows that Kuzmicz was
issued a civil traffic infraction on September 22, 2000, in
No further action was taken on the matter by the Department or the Clerk until the Clerk referred the $ 16.00 unpaid fee to a collection agency on July 23, 2005. On August 11, 2005, Kuzmicz paid all outstanding fees resulting in a “suspension satisfied” by the Clerk. However, on August 29, 2005, the Department suspended Kuzmicz license for receiving 24 points within 36 months, adding together all the points accrued in 2000, as well as points imposed as a result of 3 citations issued since September 22, 2000, including: Failure to Obey Traffic Signal, convicted 3/28/03, 3 points; Unlawful Speed, convicted 2/12/03, 4 points, and; Failure to Obey Traffic Signal, convicted 3/14/03, 3 points. In calculating the number of points the Department used the offense date, the utilization of which was triggered by the date of conviction.
Kuzmicz’s primary argument is that the Department departed from the essential requirements of law in the manner in which it calculated the points for Kuzmicz’s driving infractions. This Court agrees. In reviewing this issue, there are several pertinent provisions of Chapter 322. Florida Statutes, § 322.27(3), states that “[t]he department is authorized to suspend the license of any person upon showing of its records or other good or sufficient evidence that the licensee has been convicted of violation of motor vehicle laws or ordinances, . . . amounting to 12 or more points as determined by the point system.” Section 322.27(4) states that “[t]he department, in computing the points and period of time for suspension under this section, shall use the offense date of all convictions.” Hence, the Department lawfully used the offense date of September 22, 2000, in calculating the points.
The problem in this case, and where the Department “dropped the ball,” is that the Department was required to adjudicate, or convict, Kuzmicz guilty on or about January 3, 2001, as Kuzmicz failed to complete the driver improvement course, as ordered, by January 2, 2001. As stated in Florida Statutes, § 318.15(1)(b) “a person who elects to attend driver improvement school and has paid the civil penalty as provided in s. 318.14(9), but who subsequently fails to attend the driver improvement school within the time specified by the court shall be deemed to have admitted the infraction and shall be adjudicated guilty.” (emphasis added). This section goes on to provide that “[t]he clerk of the court shall notify the department of the person’s failure to attend driver improvement school and points shall be assessed pursuant to s. 322.27.” There is no statutory provision that the date of conviction should be the date outstanding fees are paid by the driver to the Clerk, nor any other date. There is no explanation provided by the Department as to why it took almost five years to convict Kuzmicz for the September 2000 infraction.
An agency, as any court of law, must
follow the plain language of a statute. See
Florida Department of Revenue v. Florida Municipal Power Agency, 789
So.2d 320, 323 (
Therefore, it is,
ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Petition for Writ of Certiorari is granted and this cause remanded to the Department for action consistent with this Order.
AND ORDERED in Chambers, at
JOHN A. SCHAEFER
Circuit Judge, Appellate Division
LAUREN C. LAUGHLIN JAMES R. CASE
Circuit Judge, Appellate Division Circuit Judge, Appellate Division
Copies furnished to:
Garry Potts, Esquire
Post Office Box 17651
Jason Helfant, Assistant General Counsel
Dept. of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles
Bureau of Administrative Reviews
 A “D6”, a notice mechanism utilized by the Clerk when the time for performance by the driver/defendant has passed and the Clerk has no record of the required event occurring, was transmitted, on November 13, 2000, to the Department regarding this suspension.
 The Court notes that, with the exception of the September 2000 infraction, the time difference between the date of the offense and the date of the conviction for the other infractions is less than 30 days.
Court notes that Kuzmicz receives no tangible benefit from the Department’s
error in that his license was suspended on September 19, 2005, approximately 4
months at the time of entry of this order, 3 months longer than what the
suspension would have been if Kuzmicz had been properly convicted on or about
January 3, 2001. See