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Jones v. Levi

Supreme Court of North Dakota

December 20, 2016

Kristin Marie Jones, Appellee
v.
Grant Levi, Director, Department of Transportation, Appellant

         Appeal from the District Court of Cass County, East Central Judicial District, the Honorable John C. Irby, Judge.

         REVERSED.

          Luke T. Heck, for appellee.

          Andrew Moraghan, Office of Attorney General, for appellant.

          OPINION

          Crothers, Justice.

         [¶ 1] The Department of Transportation appeals a judgment reversing the Department's decision to suspend Kristin Jones' driving privileges for 180 days. The Department argues the district court erred by reversing the hearing officer's decision on grounds not identified in her specifications of error. Because the basis for the district court's decision was not raised in the administrative hearing, we reverse the judgment and reinstate the administrative decision.

         I

         [¶ 2] West Fargo Police Officer Benjamin Orr arrested Kristin Jones for driving under the influence. At the administrative hearing Orr testified Jones agreed to submit to a blood draw. Orr transported Jones to Essentia Hospital for the blood draw. Following the blood draw Orr mailed the blood sample to the toxicology lab. Orr filled out the Report and Notice form except the portion stating the results of the blood test. Orr signed and dated the Report and Notice form. Orr testified he believed another officer, Lieutenant Duane Sall, received the toxicology lab results and filled out the remaining portion of the Report and Notice form. Specifically, Sall recorded the test results on the form, completed the certificate of mailing/issuance and mailed out the Report and Notice form.

         [¶ 3] The hearing officer suspended Jones' driver's license for 180 days concluding it was "acceptable for Officer Orr to delegate portions of the mailing process to other staff within his office." Jones appealed to the district court arguing the hearing officer erred in finding Orr satisfied the requirements of N.D.C.C. § 39-20-03.1 and the Report and Notice form was deficient. Jones further requested attorney's fees and costs. The district court reversed the hearing officer's decision that the arresting officer was not required under N.D.C.C. § 39-20-05(4) [1] to personally mail the Report and Notice form to the Department. The district court denied Jones' request for attorney's fees and costs. Id. The Department appeals.

         II

         [¶ 4] This Court reviews an administrative revocation of a driver's license under N.D.C.C. § 28-32-46. Deeth v. Director, North Dakota Dept. of Transp., 2014 ND 232, ¶ 10, 857 N.W.2d 86. We affirm the hearing officer's decision unless:

"1. The order is not in accordance with the law.
2. The order is in violation of the constitutional rights of the appellant.
3. The provisions of this chapter have not been complied with in the proceedings ...

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