FROM THE DREW COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. CV-2015-96-4]
HONORABLE DON GLOVER, JUDGE
F. Gibson, Jr., for appellant.
W. Parker, Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration,
Office of Revenue Legal Counsel, for appellee.
BRANDON J. HARRISON, Judge.
Stuart appeals from the circuit court's order affirming
the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration's
Office of Driver Services' (DFA) decision to suspend his
commercial driving privileges for one year and his
noncommercial driving privileges for six months. He argues
that the police officer did not have reasonable grounds for
initiating a traffic stop and that the statement-of-rights
form did not adequately inform him of the consequences of
refusing a chemical test. We affirm.
July 2015, Stuart was arrested and charged with driving while
intoxicated (DWI) and refusal to submit to chemical test. As
a result, Stuart's driver's license was suspended,
and his commercial driver's license (CDL) was
disqualified. He requested an administrative hearing to
contest the suspension, and DFA conducted a hearing on 6
August 2015. The written summary from that hearing found as
THIS CONTESTED HEARING WITH LICENSEE AND ATTORNEY IS BEING
HELD TO CONTEST PROBABLE CAUSE. PROBABLE CAUSE IS NOT AN
ISSUE TO BE DETERMINED BY THIS HEARING OFFICER. WE FIND
AGAINST THE LICENSEE AND SUSTAIN THE SUSPENSION. CDL
DISQUALIFIED 08-18-15 TO 08-18-16 FOR DUI ALCOHOL/REFUSED
TEST. NON COMMERICAL SUSPENSION 08-18-15 TO 02-18-16.
timely sought de novo review by the Drew County Circuit
December 2015, Stuart filed a motion to suppress evidence
obtained as a result of the traffic stop, which he argued was
made without probable cause or reasonable suspicion. DFA
responded and first argued that while Arkansas had not
addressed the issue, the majority of jurisdictions have held
that the exclusionary rule does not apply to administrative
or civil driver's-license-suspension proceedings. DFA
also argued that Ark. Code Ann. § 5-65-402 (Supp. 2013)
limits the scope of an administrative proceeding or circuit
court de novo appeal and does not authorize a petitioner to
argue constitutional issues, so Stuart should not be allowed
to raise constitutional claims or request suppression of the
evidence. And finally, DFA asserted that Stuart's
argument was barred by collateral estoppel and res judicata
because he had "previously litigated the same issues of
the officer lacking probable cause resulting in an illegal
traffic stop at Petitioner's corresponding criminal trial
for the charges of DWI and Refusal to Submit."
Alternatively, if the circuit court did find that the
exclusionary ruled applied, DFA argued that the traffic stop
was supported by reasonable suspicion that Stuart had
violated a traffic law.
circuit court held a hearing on 16 December 2015. Stuart
clarified that he was challenging both the probable cause to
arrest him for DWI and whether he had been properly advised
or warned that he would lose his driving privileges if he
refused to submit to a chemical test. Stuart also explained
that his criminal case was still ongoing in circuit court.
DFA reiterated that this was a civil case and that probable
cause was not under review. Stuart countered that the case
was "quasi-criminal" due to the punitive nature of
his driving privileges being suspended.
James Slaughter, a patrol officer with the Monticello Police
Department, testified that on 19 July 2015, he was traveling
north on Highway 425 and was behind Stuart's vehicle.
Slaughter said that they stopped at a red light at the
intersection of Highways 425 and 278; that after the light
turned green, Stuart proceeded through the intersection; and
that Stuart momentarily drove his vehicle into the southbound
turning lane before veering back into his lane. Because of
that, Slaughter stopped Stuart for careless and prohibited
driving. Slaughter approached Stuart's vehicle, spoke to
him, and could smell alcohol on his breath; Stuart admitted
having had a beer several hours earlier. Slaughter asked
Stuart to perform several field-sobriety tests, the results
of which indicated to Slaughter that Stuart was intoxicated.
Slaughter also administered a preliminary breath test (PBT),
which indicated a .15 blood-alcohol content.
arrested Stuart for DWI and transported him to the county
detention facility. Slaughter then read to Stuart the DWI
statement-of-rights form and asked Stuart if he understood
it. Stuart said yes and initialed and signed the form.
Slaughter next asked Stuart if he would submit to a breath
test, and Stuart said no and also initialed the
"no" answer on the form. According to Slaughter,
Stuart said that he knew what the PBT result was and that
"he was not going to blow because he did not want to
lose his CDLs." Stuart was subsequently booked for DWI
and refusal to submit.
cross-examination, Slaughter confirmed that he read the
following sections from the statement-of-rights form to
If you refuse to take a chemical test, none will be given,
but you will subject yourself to the penalties provided by
law, which includes, but is not limited to, the suspension or
revocation of your driving privileges, and if you are a
commercial driver's license ...