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Judicial Review of License Suspension

Secretary of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency v. Ellis, [Ms. 2180087, Mar. 22, 2019] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2019). The court (Moore, J.; Thompson, P.J., Donaldson, and Hanson, JJ., concur; Edwards, J., concurs in the result) dismisses an appeal by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) from a judgment of the Wilcox Circuit Court directing ALEA to reinstate the commercial driver’s license of Ellis who had been charged with DUI.

A party such as Ellis whose license is automatically suspended as a result of an arrest for driving under the influence may request an administrative review by ALEA or an administrative hearing before ALEA. Ms. *7-8, citing §§ 32-5A-306-307, Ala. Code 1975. Where a party requests an administrative review rather than an administrative hearing, that party is not entitled to judicial review of a decision upholding the suspension. Ms. *9.

The court concluded that subject matter jurisdiction was lacking because it was not evident from the face of the record as to whether Ellis had requested an administrative hearing before ALEA. Ms. *12. Consequently, the circuit court was without subject matter jurisdiction and its “order directing that Ellis’s CDL be reinstated is void. ‘A void judgment will not support an appeal and an appellate court must dismiss an attempted appeal from such a void judgment.’” Ibid., quoting Vann v. Cook, 989 So. 2d 556, 559 (Ala. Civ. App. 2008)) (some internal quotation marks omitted).

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