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DIXON V. LOVE, 431 U. S. 105 (1977)

U.S. Supreme Court

Dixon v. Love, 431 U.S. 105 (1977)

Dixon v. Love

No. 75-1513

Argued March 1-2, 1977

Decided May 16, 1977

431 U.S. 105


The Illinois Driver Licensing Law authorizes the Secretary of State of Illinois to suspend or revoke a driver's license without preliminary hearing upon a showing by his records or other sufficient evidence that the driver's conduct falls into any of 18 enumerated categories, one of which is that the driver has been repeatedly convicted of offenses against traffic laws to a degree indicating

"lack of ability to exercise ordinary and reasonable care in the safe operation of a motor vehicle or disrespect for the traffic laws and the safety of other persons upon the highway."

(§ 6-206(a)(3)). Pursuant to this provision, the Secretary issued a regulation requiring revocation in the event a driver's license is otherwise suspended three times within a 10-year period. Under the statutory scheme the Secretary must provide immediate written notice of a discretionary suspension or revocation and, within 20 days of his receiving a written request from the licensee, must schedule a full evidentiary hearing for a date "as early as practical," and his final decision is subject to judicial review. After the license of appellee, a truck driver, became subject to suspension under another section of the statute, the Secretary ordered the license revoked under § 6-206(a)(3) and the corresponding rule. Without requesting an administrative hearing, appellee brought this action challenging the constitutionality of § 6-206(a)(3). A three-judge District Court, relying on Bell v. Burson, 402 U. S. 535, granted appellee relief on the ground that a license cannot constitutionally be revoked under the challenged statute until after a hearing is held to determine whether the licensee meets the statutory criteria.

Held: The Illinois statute, as implemented by the Secretary's regulations, is constitutionally adequate under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as analyzed in Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U. S. 319, 424 U. S. 333. Pp. 431 U. S. 112-116.

(a) The nature of the private interest involved here (the granted license to operate a motor vehicle) is not so great as to require a departure from "the ordinary principle . . . that something less than an evidentiary hearing is sufficient prior to adverse administrative action," Eldridge, supra at 424 U. S. 343, particularly in light of statutory provisions for

Page 431 U. S. 106

hardship and for holders of commercial licenses, who are those most likely to be affected by the deprival of driving privileges. P. 431 U. S. 113.

(b) The risk of an erroneous deprivation absent a prior hearing is not great and additional procedures would not significantly reduce the number of erroneous deprivations. Here the Secretary's regulations make suspension and revocation decisions largely automatic, and appellee is asserting the right to appear at a prerevocation hearing merely to argue for leniency. Pp. 431 U. S. 113-114.

(c) The requirement of a pretermination hearing in every case would impede the public interests of administrative efficiency, as well as highway safety, which is promoted by the prompt removal of hazardous drivers. Bell v. Burson, supra, distinguished. Pp. 431 U. S. 114-115.


BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, WHITE, MARSHALL, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p. 431 U. S. 116. BRENNAN, J., filed an opinion concurring in the result, post, p. 431 U. S. 117. REHNQUIST, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

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