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Atwood v. State, Transp. Dept.

Court of Appeals of Idaho

January 24, 2014

Joey Jay ATWOOD, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
STATE of Idaho, TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT, Respondent.

Page 654

Advantage Legal Services; Stephen A. Meikle, Idaho Falls, for appellant. Stephen A. Meikle argued.

Alan R. Harrison Law, PLLC; Alan R. Harrison, Idaho Falls for respondent. Alan R. Harrison argued.

GRATTON, Judge.

Joey Jay Atwood appeals from the district court's decision, upon judicial review, affirming the Idaho Transportation Department's order suspending Atwood's driver's license. We affirm.

I.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Officer Lenda and Corporal Cox investigated a single-vehicle accident involving Atwood. Upon arrival, Officer Lenda smelled the odor of an alcoholic beverage on Atwood's breath and noticed that his eyes were glassy and bloodshot. Atwood informed the officer that he had one alcoholic beverage the prior night. Officer Lenda checked Atwood's eyes for nystagmus and then delegated Atwood's breath test evaluation to Corporal Cox. Corporal Cox administered the breath test procedure while Officer Lenda continued the investigation of the accident. Atwood's breath samples showed a result of .084 and .082. Officer Lenda placed Atwood under arrest for DUI and transported him to the Bonneville County jail.

Atwood was served with a notice of administrative license suspension, pursuant to Idaho Code § 18-8002A, due to his failure of the breath test. Atwood requested a hearing before a hearing officer from the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) to contest the license suspension. Pursuant to I.C. § 18-8002A(5)(b), Officer Lenda sent his sworn statement regarding Atwood's arrest to ITD. At the hearing, Atwood argued that the sworn statement was deficient because it was not completed bye the officer who performed the evidentiary test. The hearing officer determined that the sworn statement established that the evidentiary test was performed in compliance with the statute and

Page 655

sustained the suspension of Atwood's driver's license.[1] Atwood appealed to the district court and the district court affirmed the hearing officer's decision. Atwood timely appeals.

II.

ANALYSIS

Atwood contends that Officer Lenda's sworn statement failed to meet the statutory requirements and therefore ITD had no statutory authority to suspend his license and the hearing officer had no authority to sustain the suspension. Specifically, Atwood contends that the sworn statement did not comply with I.C. § 18-8002A because Officer Lenda did not have personal knowledge that the breath test was conducted in accordance with authorized procedure, as Corporal Cox was the person who conducted the test. ITD claims that the sworn statement satisfied the statutory requirements for suspension because Officer Lenda is allowed to rely on information from Corporal Cox regarding the evidentiary test.

The Idaho Administrative Procedures Act (IDAPA) governs the review of ITD decisions to deny, cancel, suspend, disqualify, revoke, or restrict a person's driver's license. See I.C. §§ 49-201, 49-330, 67-5201(2), 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. Idaho 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 ...


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