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Bradshaw v. State, Dept. of Admin., Div. of Motor Vehicles

Supreme Court of Alaska

January 29, 2010

Joseph L. BRADSHAW, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Alaska, DEPARTMENT OF ADMINISTRATION, DIVISION OF MOTOR VEHICLES, and Duane Bannock, Director, Appellees.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 120

Joseph L. Bradshaw, pro se, Anchorage.

Krista S. Stearns, Assistant Attorney General, Anchorage, and Richard A. Svobodny, Acting Attorney General, Juneau, for Appellees.

Before CARPENETI, Chief Justice, EASTAUGH, FABE, WINFREE, and CHRISTEN, Justices.

OPINION

EASTAUGH, Justice.

I. INTRODUCTION

In 1995 the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspended Joseph Bradshaw's driver's license because he violated Alaska's mandatory insurance and financial responsibility laws. When Bradshaw applied for license reinstatement in 2007, DMV told him that he had to pay a $100 reinstatement fee. Bradshaw sued the state, arguing that the ten-year statute of limitations barred DMV from charging him the $100 reinstatement fee. The superior court granted summary judgment to the state and dismissed Bradshaw's complaint. Alaska Statute 28.15.271(b)(3)(A) is the authority for a $100 reinstatement fee. Because imposing the $100 reinstatement fee was not an " action" within the meaning of the statute of limitations, and because Bradshaw's license had " been suspended" within the meaning of AS 28.15.271(b)(3)(A) within the ten years preceding his reinstatement application, we affirm.

II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

Joseph Bradshaw was involved in a February 1995 motor vehicle accident that resulted in over $2,000 in property damage. DMV ordered that Bradshaw's driver's license be suspended for ninety days because he was uninsured at the time of the accident, a violation of the Alaska Mandatory Automobile Insurance Act.[1] Because Bradshaw had also failed to comply with the Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act,[2] DMV ordered that his license be suspended for three years or until " proof of future financial responsibility is provided." [3]

In June 1995 the Department of Public Safety held an administrative hearing to review

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DMV's decision to suspend Bradshaw's license. The hearing officer affirmed the decision to suspend Bradshaw's license under both the Alaska Mandatory Automobile Insurance Act and the Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act. The hearing officer issued written decisions stating that Bradshaw's license would be suspended effective July 15, 1995.

Bradshaw's suspension was ostensibly for three years. But AS 28.20.240, Bradshaw's orders of suspension, and the hearing officer's decisions all stated that any suspension would continue after the initial suspension period until he provided proof of financial responsibility for the future.[4] Most drivers demonstrate proof of future financial responsibility by purchasing insurance and an additional special service from their automobile liability insurer, which agrees to inform DMV if the insurance lapses. The insurer provides the driver with an " SR-22 certificate" confirming the purchase of this specialized service.[5]

Bradshaw was eligible to seek reinstatement of his driver's license as early as February 1996 because he had shortened his three-year suspension by paying the other driver for the damage Bradshaw caused. He took steps to reinstate his license in 1998, but according to a DMV supervisor's affidavit, he complained about having to purchase SR-22 insurance coverage and did not complete the reinstatement process.[6] Because Bradshaw failed to provide DMV proof of his future financial responsibility, his license remained suspended.

In June 2007 Bradshaw formally applied to DMV for reinstatement. [Exc. 8] He indicated on his certified application that his license had been suspended and that the suspension was still in effect. In response, DMV informed Bradshaw that he had to pay a $100 ...


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