ND district judge to decide if license suspension justified in hit-and-run caseA district judge will decide if a North Dakota Department of Transportation hearing officer’s decision to suspend a man’s driving privileges for 91 days following an accident in Dickinson this summer was justified.
By: Betsy Simon, The Dickinson Press
A district judge will decide if a North Dakota Department of Transportation hearing officer’s decision to suspend a man’s driving privileges for 91 days following an accident in Dickinson this summer was justified.
At a Tuesday hearing at the Stark County Courthouse, Reid Rykowski’s Fargo lawyer, Jesse Lange, argued that there are many unknowns in the civil case and that his client did not have the chance to face his accusers, who called 911 after they reportedly heard an accident in a residential neighborhood in Dickinson. A car hit a camper parked in a driveway and the driver reportedly fled the scene.
According to the notice of appeal, the suspension is a violation of the defendant’s Constitutional rights because he was handcuffed and placed in a Dickinson police car and arrested without probable cause.
“The officer did not make an effort to make this less intrusive on my client,” Lange said.
The appeal also questions whether Rykowski was driving the vehicle or if he received a blood alcohol test within two hours of the accident.
Lange said the arrest was made based on hearsay from two people who called 911.
He said another issue was that his client was not able to face those accusers.
“I think it’s reasonable for the DOT to produce witnesses if they are going to take someone’s driver’s license,” Lange said. “The (NDDOT) did not produce witnesses. We’re dealing with more than one level of hearsay, and we do not know who called dispatch.
“There were two people at the scene, but we don’t know if they called or if they told someone else to call.”
Judge Patrick Weir said he was troubled by the fact the residents of the home where the camper was struck did not hear the accident.
“Doesn’t that support Mr. Lang’s argument that the people who called 911 should have come forward?” Weir asked North Dakota Assistant Attorney General Doug Anderson, who represented the DOT at the hearing.
Anderson said Rykowski had the opportunity to testify.
“But he did not testify,” Anderson said. “That allows for negative inferences to be made in this case.”
Weir said he would issue an order but did not specify when it would be available.