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Roberts v. North Dakota Department of Transportation

Supreme Court of North Dakota

May 27, 2015

William Samuel Roberts, Appellant
v.
North Dakota Department of Transportation, Appellee

As Corrected July 7, 2015.

Appeal from the District Court of Ward County, North Central Judicial District, the Honorable Douglas L. Mattson, Judge.

William S. Roberts, self-represented, Burlington, ND, appellant; on brief.

Michael Trent Pitcher, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Attorney General, Bismarck, ND, for appellee; on brief.

Daniel J. Crothers, Lisa Fair McEvers, Carol Ronning Kapsner, Daniel J. Crothers, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J.

OPINION

Page 530

Crothers, Justice.

[¶1] 1 William Samuel Roberts appeals from a district court judgment affirming an order of the Department of Transportation revoking his driving privileges for two years for refusing to submit to a chemical test. Roberts argues the district court erred by affirming the hearing officer's decision revoking Roberts' license for two years based upon his refusal to submit to a chemical test because Roberts submitted to an onsite screening test prior to being arrested for driving under the influence. We affirm.

I

[¶2] In March 2014, the Burlington Police Chief Philip Crabb observed Roberts' vehicle weave within its lane and cross the center and fog lines several times. After the officer stopped Roberts, he observed Roberts' face was flushed and his speech was slurred, and he noted an odor of alcohol. Roberts admitted to having a few drinks. Roberts agreed to take field sobriety tests. After the officer read Roberts the implied consent advisory, Roberts also agreed to take an onsite screening test. The result of the test was 0.143 BAC, and the officer arrested Roberts for driving under the influence of alcohol. The officer again read Roberts the implied consent advisory and asked Roberts if he would submit to a blood test. Roberts said no. Roberts' record showed his driving privileges previously were suspended for 91 days for " BAC over legal limit." The hearing officer found that " [b]ased upon this refusal and Roberts' driving record, the applicable period of revocation is 2 years under N.D.C.C. § 39-20-04."

[¶3] Roberts appealed the decision of the North Dakota Department of Transportation to the district court, arguing the hearing officer incorrectly determined the arresting officer cited Roberts for refusal of a chemical test under N.D.C.C. § 39-20-01 and incorrectly revoked his driving privileges under N.D.C.C. § 39-20-04. Roberts argued the BAC measurement of 0.143 negates the charge of refusal. The district court affirmed the decision of the North Dakota Department of Transportation, finding the hearing officer's findings regarding refusal did not go against the greater weight of the evidence. Roberts appeals.

Page 531

II

[¶4] The Administrative Agencies Practice Act, N.D.C.C. ch. 28-32, governs the review of an administrative agency decision to suspend a person's driving privileges. Painte v. Dir., DOT,2013 ND 95, ¶ 6, 832 N.W.2d 319. This Court reviews the agency's decision on appeal from the district court. Id. " Courts exercise limited review in appeals from administrative agency decisions, and the agency's decision is accorded great deference." Id. (quoting Berger v. N.D. Dep't of Transp., 2011 ND 55, ¶ 5, 795 N.W.2d 707). " We review an administrative agency decision under N.D.C.C. § 28-32-49 in the same manner as the district court under N.D.C.C. § 28-32-46." Painte, at ¶ 6. Although this Court reviews the agency's findings and decisions, " the district ...


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