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Williamson v. Dir., North Dakota Department of Transportation

Supreme Court of North Dakota

December 1, 2015

Christopher L. Williamson, Appellant
v.
Director, North Dakota Department of Transportation, Appellee

Appeal from the District Court of Williams County, Northwest Judicial District, the Honorable David W. Nelson, Judge.

Michael R. Hoffman, Bismarck, ND, for plaintiff and appellant.

Douglas B. Anderson, Office of Attorney General, Bismarck, ND, for defendant and appellee.

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

OPINION

Daniel J. Crothers, Justice.

Page 449

[¶1] Christopher Williamson appeals from a district court order affirming the Department of Transportation hearing officer's decision to suspend his driving privileges for two years. Williamson argues the district court erred by receiving evidence that was not adequately authenticated. We affirm.

I

[¶2] Officer Travis Martinson stopped Williamson after he drove over a fire hose at a fire scene. Martinson smelled alcohol in Williamson's vehicle and noticed Williamson had bloodshot, watery eyes and slurred speech. Williamson refused field sobriety tests but consented to perform an onsite screening test under N.D.C. C. § 39-20-14. The onsite screening test estimated Williamson's blood alcohol content was greater than permitted for operating a vehicle and Martinson arrested Williamson. Martinson took Williamson to the Williams County Correctional Center and Sergeant Randy Haugenoe administered an Intoxilyzer 8000 chemical test. The Intoxilyzer reported Williamson had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.231 percent by weight.

[¶3] The hearing officer introduced the Intoxilyzer report at the administrative hearing. To admit such evidence using the statutory shortcut, N.D.C.C. § 39-20-07(5) requires the director of the state crime laboratory or the director's designee to approve the methods, devices and the qualifications of the individuals administrating the blood test. Williamson objected, alleging the statutory requirements were not met and the report was inadmissible for lack of foundation. The hearing officer concluded the test was fairly administered, the objection was overruled and the hearing officer's suspension of Williamson's driving privileges for two years was not in error. The Williams County district court affirmed the decision. Williamson appeals.

II

[¶4] This Court reviews the agency order in the same manner as the district court in an administrative appeal. N.D.C.C. § 28-32-49. The administrative agency's order must be affirmed unless the order is not in accordance with the law, the appellant has not had a fair hearing, the findings of fact or conclusions of law are not supported by a preponderance of the evidence or the findings made by the agency do not sufficiently explain its rationale. N.D.C.C. § 28-32-46.

Page 450

[¶5] In its review, this Court gives great deference to the agency's ...


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