Finch v. State, 903 So. 2d 166 (Ala. Cr. App. 2004) – [Mandatory Revocation; Method of Appeal]
Finch pled guilty to one felony count of driving under the influence. The court sentenced Finch to 10 years imprisonment, with an order to serve 10 days confinement in the county jail and the balance was suspended, followed by five years supervised probation. The court also ordered Finch to surrender his driver license to the Department of Public Safety so it could be revoked for a period of five years, as required under 32-5A-191(h). Finch reserved the right to appeal the issue of the driver license suspension before entering the guilty plea.
Finch contended the circuit court erred in ordering him to surrender his driver license because he had already served a prior administrative suspension arising from the same arrest. He argued that 32-5A-304(c) prohibits a second or subsequent suspension or revocation under 32-5A-195.
The Court of Criminal Appeals held where a statutory procedure has been provided as the exclusive method of review for a particular type case, no other review is available. Citing Huggins v. Alabama Dep’t of Public Safety, 891 So. 2d 337 (Ala. Civ. App. 2004). Under the statute governing suspension, revocation, and cancellation of driver’s licenses, the method of review is an administrative hearing. Dothard v. Forbus, 331 So. 2d 685 (Ala. Civ. App. 1975). The remedy in the case of a discretionary revocation is an appeal to the circuit court. However, in the case of a mandatory revocation, mandamus is the only remedy. May v. Lingo, 167 So. 2d 267 (Ala. 1964).
The Code of Alabama, section 32-5A-195(j) provides the Director of Public Safety “shall forthwith revoke” the license of any driver following a second or subsequent conviction within a five year period. In Mechur v. Director, Dep’t of Public Safety, 446 So. 2d 48 (Ala. Civ. App. 1984), the court held where the director’s duty is mandatory, no administrative hearing or judicial appeal is afforded, and the only available remedy is a writ of mandamus.
Following Mechur, the court held that Finch’s sole remedy was filing a writ of mandamus in the circuit court of Montgomery County, citing 41-22-20(b).