Petition for Writ of Certiorari to Review Quasi-Judicial Action, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles:  DRIVERíS LICENSES Ė Suspension Ė Revocation of Petitionerís driverís license was mandated by Florida Statutes ß 316.027 and ß 322.26 upon the Departmentís notification of his conviction for failure to stop and render aid after his motor vehicle crash involving injury or death. Department afforded Petitioner the opportunity to submit evidence and show why his driving privilege should not be revoked permanently and did not depart from any of the statutory procedures or deprive Petitioner of due process by issuing a second order of revocation.Petition denied.Berta v. Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, No. 10-000014AP-88B (Fla. 6th Cir. App. Ct. October 27, 2010).

 

NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES FOR REHEARING AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED

 

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA
APPELLATE DIVISION

 

STEPHEN STANLEY BERTA,
†††††††††† †††††† Petitioner,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Ref. No.:10-000014AP-88B

v.†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† UCN:522010AP000014XXXXCV

 

DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAY

SAFETY AND MOTOR VEHICLES,

††††††††††††††††† Respondent.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† /

 

ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI

THIS CAUSE is before the Court on a Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed by Petitioner Stephen Stanley Berta on March 15, 2010, and a response by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (ďDepartmentĒ) filed a response on June 28, 2010. Upon consideration, this Court finds that the Petition for Writ of Certiorari is hereby denied.

After entering a plea of nolo contendere, Petitioner was convicted of leaving the scene of a crash involving death in violation of Florida Statutes ß 316.027 on April 18, 2005.The trial court sentenced Petitioner to three years in prison, four years of probation, and revocation of his driverís license for life.

On the same day, April 18, 2005, the Department revoked Petitionerís driverís license for one year pursuant to ß 322.27.On January 4, 2008, the Department reinstated Petitionerís license pursuant to ß 322.271.Then on January 12, 2010, the Department issued an Order of License Revocation, Suspension, or Cancellation indicating the indefinite cancellation of driving privilege effective February 2, 2010, based on the trial courtís permanent revocation of his license on April 18, 2005, for failing to stop and render aid involving injury or death.

On February 2, 2010, the Department issued a second Order of License Revocation, Suspension, or Cancellation, effective April 18, 2005.The Order cited to Florida Statutes ß 322.26 and permanently revoked Petitionerís driving privileged based on his conviction for the offense of failure to stop and render aid in the event of a motor vehicle accident resulting in the death.

After holding a review hearing, the Department issued a Final Order of License Suspension on February 15, 2010.Petitioner filed the instant Petition for Writ of Certiorari arguing that the second revocation was based on the same incident as the first revocation in violation of the doctrine of res judicata and Petitionerís due process rights.

In reviewing the hearing officerís final order, this Court is limited in determining (1) whether procedural due process has been accorded, (2) whether the essential elements of law have been observed, and (3) whether the administrative findings are supported by competent, substantial evidence. Vichich v. Depít of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles, 799 So. 2d 1069, 1073 (Fla.2d DCA 2001). It is not the job or function of the circuit court to reweigh evidence and make findings when it undertakes a review of an administrative decision.Depít of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles v. Satter, 643 So. 2d 692, 695 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994). The hearing officer assigned to hear the case by the department is ďthe tier of fact and in the best position to evaluate the evidence.Ē Depít of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles v. Favino, 667 So. 2d 305, 309 (Fla.1st DCA 1995).

Petitioner characterizes the Departmentís second revocation of his license as relitigation of the same issue.However, the revocation of Petitionerís driverís license was mandated by Florida Statutes ß 316.027 and ß 322.26 upon the Departmentís notification of his conviction for failure to stop and render aid after his motor vehicle crash involving injury or death:

 

Mandatory revocation of license by department. Ė The department shall forthwith revoke the license or driving privilege of any person upon receiving a record of such personís conviction of any of the following offenses: . . .

(4) Failure to stop and render aid as required under the laws of this state in the event of a motor vehicle crash resulting in the death or personal injury of another.††

Id. at ß 322.26(4); see also id. at ß 322.27(2).As recognized by Petitioner, Florida courts have found that the statutory driversí license suspension procedures meet the requirements of due process and are facially valid.See Depít of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles v. Pitts, 815 So. 2d 738, 743 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002) (citing Depít of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles v. Stewart, 625 So. 2d 123, 124 (Fla. 5th DCA 1993)).

††††††††††† Here, Petitioner has failed to demonstrate that the Department departed from any of the statutory procedures or deprived Petitioner of due process by issuing a second order of revocation.Instead, the record demonstrates that the Hearing Officer afforded Petitioner the opportunity to submit evidence and show why his driving privilege should not be revoked permanently; the decision to permanently revoke Petitionerís driving privilege was based on substantial competent evidence; and the Department did not depart from the essential requirements of law.

††††††††††† Accordingly, it is

††††††††††† ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Petition for Writ of Certiorari is DENIED.

††††††††††† DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers, in St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida, this ______ day of October 2010.

††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

Original order entered on October 27, 2010 by Circuit Judges Amy M. Williams, Peter Ramsberger, and Pamela A.M. Campbell.

 

 

Copies furnished to:

 

Steve Bartlett, Esquire, 2435 US Hwy 19, Ste 320, Holiday, FL 34691
Heather Rose Cramer, Esquire, Assistant General Counsel, DHSMV-Legal Office, P.O. Box 540609††††††††† Lake Worth, FL 33454-0609