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In v. State of Idaho

February 2, 2011

IN THE MATTER OF THE DRIVER'S LICENSE SUSPENSION OF SCOTT T. CUNNINGHAM. SCOTT THOMAS CUNNINGHAM, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
STATE OF IDAHO, RESPONDENT.



Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Kathryn A. Sticklen, District Judge. Hon. Thomas Watkins, Magistrate.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Melanson, Judge

2011 Opinion No. 3

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

Decision of the district court, on intermediate appeal from the magistrate, reversing the magistrate's order reinstating driver's license, reversed.

Scott Thomas Cunningham appeals from the district court's intermediate appellate decision reversing the magistrate's order reinstating Cunningham's driver's license. For the reasons set forth below, we reverse the district court's decision and vacate the order suspending Cunningham's driver's license.

I.

FACTS AND PROCEDURE

Cunningham was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).

I.C. § 18-8004. The arresting officer transported Cunningham to jail and requested that Cunningham submit to a breath alcohol concentration (BAC) test. The officer provided

Cunningham with a notice of suspension form, which advised Cunningham of his rights and theconsequences for choosing to refuse to submit to the BAC test. I.C. § 18-8002. The officer also played Cunningham a recording, which detailed the information contained on the form. After listening to the recording and reviewing the form, Cunningham asked the officer if he had to pay $250 for refusing to submit to the BAC test. The officer responded that he would discuss that with Cunningham later and that he would explain to Cunningham what the law was and what the Idaho courts have said about the consequences for refusing to submit to a BAC test.

Soon thereafter, the officer informed Cunningham that the test was Cunningham's opportunity to prove to the courts that he had not been drinking. The officer also stated that, if Cunningham refused to take the BAC test, his driver's license would be automatically suspended for one year without exception. When Cunningham attempted to ask the officer about requesting a hearing on the license suspension, the officer interrupted him to assert that the BAC test was Cunningham's only opportunity to prove his innocence. The officer also asserted that he specialized in DUI testing and then repeated that, if Cunningham refused to cooperate, he would lose his opportunity to prove his innocence. Cunningham again inquired about the consequences for refusing to submit to BAC testing, to which the officer responded that Cunningham would be charged with DUI, would lose his chance to prove that he was not driving under the influence of alcohol, and would have his license suspended without exception for one year. Cunningham also asked the officer if he could request someone else to perform an independent BAC test. The officer replied that Cunningham could only obtain such a test after he bonded out of jail.

Cunningham refused to submit to the BAC test. The officer confiscated Cunningham's license and issued him a temporary permit. Cunningham requested a hearing within seven days to demonstrate why he refused to submit to testing. At the hearing, the magistrate determined that the officer's statements regarding the license suspension, the independent evidentiary test, and the requirement that Cunningham prove his innocence were incorrect. As a result, the magistrate ordered that Cunningham's driver's license be reinstated. The state appealed to the district court, which reversed the magistrate's order and suspended Cunningham's license. Cunningham appeals.

II.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

On review of a decision of the district court, rendered in its appellate capacity, we review the decision of the district court directly. Losser v. Bradstreet, 145 Idaho 670, 672, 183 P.3d 758, 760 (2008). We examine the magistrate record to determine whether there is substantial and competent evidence to support the magistrate's findings of fact and whether the magistrate's conclusions of law follow from those findings. Id. An abuse of discretion will be found if the magistrate's findings of fact are not supported by ...


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