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In v. Johnathan Paul Van Camp

May 27, 2011

IN THE MATTER OF THE DRIVER'S LICENSE SUSPENSION OF JOHNATHAN PAUL VAN CAMP. IDAHO TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
JOHNATHAN PAUL VAN CAMP, RESPONDENT.



Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Kathryn A. Sticklen, District Judge. Decision reversing administrative license suspension, affirmed.

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

2011 Opinion No. 33

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

The Idaho Transportation Department (Department) appeals the district court's reversal upon judicial review of a Department administrative suspension of Johnathan Paul Van Camp's driver's license. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the decision of the district court.

I.BACKGROUND

Van Camp was arrested for driving under the influence after he made an illegal U-turn. The officer at the scene noticed that Van Camp's speech was thick and slurred, his eyes were red and watery, his mouth was dry, and there was a visible white film in the corners of his mouth. The officer also noticed that Van Camp seemed confused and disoriented and could not find his wallet, registration, or proof of insurance. Van Camp searched for his wallet for several minutes, often looking in the empty glove box of the car. The officer asked Van Camp how much he hadto drink, and Van Camp replied that he had not had anything. At the officer's request, Van Camp exited the vehicle to perform the standardized field sobriety tests. After Van Camp failed the tests, the officer placed him under arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Van Camp submitted to a breath test, which resulted in two breath samples of .00; he also submitted to a urinalysis, from which the Idaho State Police Forensic Services detected Cyclobenzaprine. Van Camp admitted to taking Cyclobenzaprine and Seroquel.

Van Camp was notified by the Department of an administrative license suspension (ALS) and was provided with notice for a telephone hearing. At the hearing, Van Camp argued, among other things, that a drug must be intoxicating for Idaho Code § 18-8002A to apply, which consequently requires "either some written certification or some other standard stating the drug is intoxicating." The hearing officer sustained Van Camp's administrative license suspension concluding that the presence of the controlled substance in his urine, combined with the observed impairment by the officer, was sufficient to establish a violation under I.C. § 18-8004. Van Camp filed a timely petition for judicial review. Subsequently, the district court entered a memorandum decision and order reversing the hearing officer's ruling and reinstated Van Camp's driving privileges. The Department appeals seeking reversal of the district court's decision.

II.DISCUSSION

The Idaho Administrative Procedures Act (IDAPA) governs the review of Department decisions to deny, cancel, suspend, disqualify, revoke or restrict a person's driver's license. See I.C. §§ 49-330, 67-5270. In an appeal from the decision of the district court acting in its appellate capacity under IDAPA, this Court reviews the agency record independently of the district court's decision. Marshall v. Dep't of Transp., 137 Idaho 337, 340, 48 P.3d 666, 669 (Ct. App. 2002). This Court does not substitute its judgment for that of the agency as to the weight of the evidence presented. I.C. § 67-5279(1); Marshall, 137 Idaho at 340, 48 P.3d at 669. This Court instead defers to the agency's findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous. Castaneda v. Brighton Corp., 130 Idaho 923, 926, 950 P.2d 1262, 1265 (1998); Marshall, 137 Idaho at 340, 48 P.3d at 669. In other words, the agency's factual determinations are binding on the reviewing court, even where there is conflicting evidence before the agency, as long as the determinations are supported by substantial and competent evidence in the record. Urrutia v. Blaine County, ex rel. Bd. of Comm'rs, 134 Idaho 353, 357, 2 P.3d 738, 742 (2000); Marshall, 137 Idaho at 340, 48 P.3d at 669.

A court may overturn an agency's decision where its findings, inferences, conclusions or decisions: (a) violate statutory or constitutional provisions; (b) exceed the agency's statutory authority; (c) are made upon unlawful procedure; (d) are not supported by substantial evidence in the record; or (e) are arbitrary, capricious or an abuse of discretion. I.C. § 67-5279(3). The party challenging the agency decision must demonstrate that the agency erred in a manner specified in I.C. § 67-5279(3) and that a substantial right of that party has been prejudiced. Price v. Payette County Bd. of County Comm'rs, 131 Idaho 426, 429, 958 P.2d 583, 586 (1998); Marshall, 137 Idaho at 340, 48 P.3d at 669. If the agency's decision is not affirmed on appeal, "it shall be set aside . . . and remanded for further proceedings as necessary." I.C. § 67-5279(3).

The ALS statute, I.C. § 18-8002A, requires that the Department suspend the driver's license of a driver who has failed an evidentiary test administered by a law enforcement officer. The period of suspension is ninety days for a driver's first failure of an evidentiary test and one year for any subsequent test failure within five years. I.C. § 18-8002A(4)(a). A person who has been notified of an ALS may request a hearing before a hearing officer designated by the Department to contest the suspension. I.C. § 18-8002A(7). At the administrative hearing, the burden of proof rests upon the driver to prove any of the grounds to vacate the suspension. I.C. § 18-8002A(7); Kane v. State, Dep't of Transp., 139 Idaho 586, 590, 83 P.3d 130, 134 (Ct. App. 2003). The hearing officer must uphold the suspension unless he or she finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the driver has shown one of several grounds enumerated inI.C. § 18-8002A(7) for vacating the suspension. Those grounds include:

(b) The officer did not have legal cause to believe the person had been driving or was in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other intoxicating substances in violation of the provisions of section 18-8004, 18-8004C or 18-8006, Idaho Code; or

(c) The test results did not show an alcohol concentration or the presence of drugs or other intoxicating substances in violation of section 18- 8004, 18-8004C or 18-8006, Idaho Code. . . I.C. § 18-8002A(7) (emphasis added). The hearing officer's decision is subject to challenge through a petition for judicial review. I.C. § 18-8002A(8); Kane, 139 Idaho at 589, 83 P.3d at 133. The interpretation of a statute is an issue of law over which we exercise free review. Corder v. Idaho Farmway, Inc., 133 Idaho 353, 358, 986 P.2d 1019, 1024 (Ct. App. 1999).

Idaho Code § 18-8002A(4)(a) states in relevant part:

Upon receipt of the sworn statement of a peace officer that there existed a legal cause to believe a person had been driving or was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other intoxicating substances and that the person submitted to a test and the test results indicated an alcohol concentration or the presence of drugs or other intoxicating substances in violation of section 18-8004 . . . the department shall suspend the person's driver's license. . .

Here, the district court reversed the suspension of Van Camp's driver's license on the basis that the officer's observations of impairment only support an inference of causation if there is separate proof that the drug was intoxicating. The district court stated:

Idaho Code § 18-8002A only applies if the drug that is present is shown to be intoxicating. Where there is no allegation or proof that a test result reveals the presence of an intoxicating drug, a positive test for the presence of a drug does not by itself constitute substantial evidence of the presence of an intoxicating drug for the purpose of suspending driving privileges. Alternatively, evidence from a prescription drug label that a drug has the potential to impair driving provides evidence that a drug is intoxicating.(citations omitted).

The Department argues that the presence of Cyclobenzaprine, along with the other evidence of impairment, was sufficient to prove that Van Camp failed an evidentiary test for drugs or other intoxicating substances. Van Camp counters that since there was no separate evidence offered to prove that Cyclobenzaprine is an intoxicating drug, he was not under the influence of an intoxicating drug for purposes of I.C. ยง 18-8002A. Because no transcript of the hearing is presented on appeal, we are ...


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