Spalt v. South Carolina Dept. Motor VehiclesAnnotate this Case
Melissa Spalt was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. When she refused to submit to a breath test, the arresting officer issued a "notice of suspension" of her driver's license. Spalt requested a hearing before the South Carolina Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings (OMVH) to challenge her suspension, as permitted by subsection 56-5-2951(B)(2). The OMVH scheduled a hearing for June 23, 2015, at 9:00 a.m. On June 18, Spalt's attorney notified the OMVH he was scheduled to be in court at the time of the new OMVH hearing. Spalt's attorney emailed the agency and hearing officer multiple times to reschedule the hearing; there was no indication in the record that the OMVH hearing officer responded to the attorney's last emails. At the time of the hearing, Spalt's attorney did not appear. The hearing officer entered an "Order of Dismissal", finding "Neither [Spalt] nor her counsel appeared at the hearing and therefore waived the right to challenge the pending suspension." The hearing officer did not conduct a hearing on the merits of the suspension. Spalt appealed to the ALC, which reversed and remanded to the OMVH for a hearing on the merits. The Department of Motor Vehicles appealed the ALC's order to the court of appeals, which dismissed the appeal on the basis the ALC's order was not immediately appealable. The Department appealed again to the South Carolina Supreme Court, but finding no error, the Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals.