The Department of Public Safety (Department) disqualified Brian James Jans’ commercial driver’s license (CDL) for one year after he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence (DUI) and received a suspended imposition of sentence. Jans appealed, arguing the Department’s decision violated the doctrine of the separation of powers under article II of the State Constitution by unconstitutionally infringing upon the judiciary’s sentencing authority. He also argued the Department no longer had the statutory authority to disqualify his CDL once his case was dismissed and discharged under SDCL 23A-27-14. On April 29, 2016, Jans was arrested for first offense DUI pursuant to SDCL 32-23-2. On August 29, 2019, the Department sent Jans notice that his CDL would be disqualified for one year. Jans argued the disqualification of his CDL would violate article V, § 5 of the South Dakota Constitution, which grants courts the exclusive authority to suspend “imposition or execution of a sentence.” This Court concluded that (1) Jans failed to show that South Dakota’s CDL disqualification statutes violate the separation of powers doctrine in article II of the State Constitution; (2) that , SDCL 32-12A-64 and SDCL 32-12A-1(7) must be read in harmony with specific provisions in chapter 32-12A requiring the Department to disqualify the CDL of an offender who received a suspended imposition of sentence for a qualifying offense; and (3) that the Department properly considered the 2016 DUI conviction for the purpose of CDL disqualification under SDCL 32-12A-32. Therefore, this Court affirmed the Department’s decision.
This case primarily presents a question of statutory interpretation concerning South Dakota’s commercial driver’s license (CDL) disqualification statute, SDCL 32-12A-36(4).
Specifically, whether possession of a felony quantity of marijuana while using a motor vehicle is “using a … vehicle in the commission of any felony ….” This Court concluded that (1) nothing in the statute suggests that the Legislature intended to exclude felonies that could also be committed without using a vehicle; (2) that CDL disqualification under SDCL 32-12A-36(4) applies when a vehicle is used as a means to possess a felony quantity of marijuana; (3) that the circuit court erred in determining SDCL 32-12A-36(4) was unconstitutionally vague as applied to Ibrahim; and (4) that Ibrahim has not challenged that he was convicted of possessing a felony quantity of marijuana in his vehicle after he was stopped by law enforcement. As a result, this Court held that possession of a felony quantity of marijuana while using a motor vehicle is considered using a vehicle in the commission of any felony, and thus, this Court reversed the circuit court’s decision and affirmed the Department’s decision.
Russell C. Stanley pleaded guilty to unauthorized ingestion of a controlled drug or substance, having been cited for the offense while operating a motorcycle. The circuit court granted Stanley a suspended imposition of sentence. Following the criminal proceedings, the Department of Public Safety (Department) notified Stanley that his commercial driver’s license (CDL) was subject to disqualification for a period of one year pursuant to South Dakota law. Stanley requested an administrative hearing to contest the proposed disqualification. An administrative law judge upheld the disqualification and the Department entered a final order disqualifying Stanley’s CDL privileges. Stanley appealed to the circuit court, which reversed the disqualification of his CDL privileges. The Department appealed the circuit court’s decision. The felony ingestion statute in SDCL 22-42-5.1 prohibits a person from “knowingly ingest[ing] a controlled drug or substance or hav[ing] a controlled drug or substance in an altered state in the body ….” This Court found that there is no evidence or showing that Stanley utilized the motorcycle to commit the crime of ingestion of a controlled substance. Moreover, this Court found that the offense as committed by Stanley in this case is therefore not subject to mandatory CDL disqualification within SDCL 32-12A-36(4). As a result, this Court affirmed the circuit court’s decision reversing the Department’s disqualification of Stanley’s CDL.
Worker whose off-duty driving while under influence of alcohol (DUI) conviction precluded him from further duties as employer’s truck driver, and who left employment with employer altogether after unsuccessful attempt to operate grinder, sought unemployment compensation benefits. Department of Labor denied benefits, and the Circuit Court, affirmed. Worker appealed. The Supreme Court held that: (1) worker’s DUI conviction constituted “work-connected misconduct,” and (2) worker’s inability to operate grinder, not his DUI conviction, led to discharge from employment. Reversed.
Claimant, who worked as a truck driver for a family-owned farming business, sought workers’ compensation benefits from his employer. The Circuit Court granted summary judgment in favor of employer. Claimant appealed. The Supreme Court held that: (1) a “farm or agricultural laborer,” for purposes of statute exempting employers of those laborers from obtaining workers’ compensation insurance, was someone who engaged in physical labor for a farm or agricultural operation; (2) test for determining claimant’s status examines nature of claimant’s work and nature of employer’s business; and (3) claimant, who worked exclusively for employer and hauled nothing other than agricultural products, was an “agricultural laborer” and thus was exempt from coverage. Affirmed.
Defendant filed a motion to reopen his case and allow him to withdraw his guilty plea. The Circuit Court denied defendant’s motion, and he appealed. The Supreme Court held that it did not have jurisdiction to consider defendant’s appeal.
“Defendant pleaded guilty in South Dakota to driving under the influence and admitted to being a habitual offender. After entry of the judgment of conviction, the State of Nebraska suspended defendant’s commercial driver’s license. Defendant filed a motion in a South Dakota circuit court to reopen his case and allow him to withdraw his guilty plea under SDCL 23A–27–11. He claimed the loss of his commercial driver’s license constituted a manifest injustice. The circuit court denied defendant’s motion, and he appeals. The State asserts that this Court lacks jurisdiction to consider defendant’s appeal. We agree and dismiss for lack of appellate jurisdiction.”
Licensee appealed decision of the Department of Public Safety disqualifying him from operating commercial motor vehicles for one year after licensee pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while his blood alcohol content was 0.08 percent or more. The Circuit Court reversed. Department appealed. The Supreme Court held that pleading guilty to driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more constituted a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol sufficient to support suspension of motorist’s commercial driver’s license (CDL). Reversed.
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