LITTLETON, Colo. (KDVR) — Matt Schafer hasn’t been able to drive for more than six years even though the DUI case that led to his license revocation was dismissed back in 2017.
“No voice, no justice, no due process, no anything,” Schafer said.
It turns out that while Schafer may be innocent in the eyes of the criminal court, a person’s driver’s license is a civil matter handled by the Department of Revenue, which has very different legal standards and a very short appeals process.
“I’ve become the ultimate walker,” Schafer, who has had to give up numerous jobs because they weren’t accessible by bus or by foot, said.
Why Schafer was pulled over
The problem began in January 2017 when the 35-year-old was pulled over for not having a front license plate.
Schafer told FOX31 the plate had been stolen three weeks earlier and he was waiting for his new plate to arrive in the mail.
State troopers admit he had not committed a driving infraction but according to their report suspected he had recently “smoked marijuana.”
According to the report, “Schafer did not complete roadside maneuvers in a manner consistent with a sober party.”
Schafer told FOX31 a blood test would have proved he was sober, but he was not given one.
The report said Schafer wanted to speak with his lawyer before completing any other tests.
Schafer said troopers never explained he would automatically lose his license under Colorado law if he didn’t consent to a blood test and that he made it clear to troopers he would comply with any of their requests.
What troopers said in court
It took the Problem Solvers months to obtain the court transcripts from 2017 but at one of the criminal hearings, a trooper testified that Schafer “had something along the lines of he would be willing to comply with anything you like to have me do.”
A part of the transcript read:
(Schafer’s attorney) “And so he complied with all the requests that you had for him, correct?” (Trooper) “Yes, sir.”
Schafer’s criminal case was dismissed in June of 2017 after state troopers failed to turn over the dashcam to Jefferson County prosecutors.
But Schafer’s license had already been revoked three months earlier in March of 2017 at a Department of Revenue hearing when troopers testified Schafer had refused a blood test.
Schafer misses timeframe for appeal
Under Colorado’s administrative law, Schafer only had 35 days to appeal his license being revoked.
But it was another 90 days until his criminal case was dismissed, which was too late to use the criminal dismissal and the missing dashcam as grounds to appeal his driver’s license being revoked.
“Beyond maddening! It is a gross miscarriage of the law. It’s a gross miscarriage of due process. There is no due process,” Schafer complained.
In order for Schafer to get his license back, he would have to apply for what’s called SR-22 car insurance, pay a $95 reinstatement fee, pay for an interlock device and pay for alcohol and drug treatment classes.
“I feel if I’m innocent, I shouldn’t have to pay for those fines and fees,” Schafer said, who added he couldn’t afford the $5,000 in various fees that reinstatement would have cost him.
The Department of Revenue declined to speak with the Problem Solvers on camera about its 35-day rule to appeal but in an email told FOX31, “This time frame is dictated by law and the Hearing Officer does not have the ability to change this timeframe … Simply because the criminal case may still be pending, or even dismissed, does not change the appeal period for the administrative hearing.”
“There should be some sort of amendment, there should be some sort of reprieve, for that individual to say, ‘okay, you know what? Right is right, you’re innocent.’ We don’t need the fines and fees that bad. Here’s your license back,” Schafer said.
Schafer says he requested internal affairs investigation
Schafer has since moved to Michigan but he can’t get a driver’s license there either, not until his record is cleared in Colorado.
Schafer told the Problem Solvers he asked Colorado State Patrol to conduct an internal affairs investigation into the two troopers who arrested him in 2017. because the Department of Revenue told him a finding that supported Schafer, might be the only way DOR would reconsider giving him his driver’s license back without forcing him to pay all the fines and fees.
A CSP spokesman said it has no record of Schafer’s 2017 request.
Schafer said he will now make another request online since that will provide a written trail, unlike the phone call he said he made to CSP in 2017.
Department of Revenue response to Problem Solvers
The Department of Revenue confirmed at the 11th hour that it’s waiving Schafer’s reinstatement fees and just requiring him to fill out some affidavits, “to get his license reinstated so that his status will show eligible and remove him from the problem driver pointer system.”
So in the near future, he should at least be able to drive in his new state of Michigan.