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William R. Williamson v. Iowa Department of Transportation

September 6, 2012


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Richard G. Blane II, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Huitink, S.J.

Petitioner appeals the district court decision affirming the ruling of the Iowa Department of Transportation revoking his driver's license. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Doyle, J., and Huitink, S.J.*fn1

I. Background Facts & Proceedings.

On December 3, 2010, Officer Darren Reid was working at a weigh station on I-80 in Iowa when he came into contact with William Williamson, who had an out-of-state commercial driver's license. Officer Reid immediately noticed Williamson had an overwhelming odor of marijuana. When questioned, Williamson admitted he had smoked a marijuana cigarette shortly before coming to the weigh station. He also stated he had possession of another marijuana cigarette in the cab of his truck, which the officer retrieved.

The officer noticed indications-rebound dilation of the eyes and muscle tremors-that showed Williamson was under the influence of a drug. Officer Reid read the entire implied consent advisory to Williamson. He then requested a urine test. Williamson refused to give a urine sample. He stated, "We both know that would come back dirty."

When filling out the form "Request and Notice Under Iowa Code Chapter 321J/Section 321.208," Officer Reid filled out part A, the driver's personal information; part B, stating there were reasonable grounds to believe Williamson was operating while intoxicated; and part C, stating a request for a urine sample had been made. Williamson signed the form indicating he refused the test. Officer Reid signed as the officer making the request for a specimen. Officer Reid also signed and dated part F, certifying, "under penalty of perjury and pursuant to the laws of the state of Iowa that the preceding is true and correct."

Officer Reid did not at that time complete part D or part E of the form. Part D would have indicated the alcohol test results-here that Williamson had refused to submit to chemical testing. Part E of the form would have given Williamson notice of the length of his license revocation. When Officer Reid submitted the form to the Iowa Department of Transportation, he was informed he needed to fill in parts D and E. He filled in these two parts, but did not re-sign the form. Official notice was sent to Williamson on December 20, 2010, informing him that his driving privileges in Iowa were revoked for one year pursuant to Iowa Code section 321J.9 (2009).

Williamson contested the revocation of his driver's license, claiming the revocation was invalid because Officer Reid had not filled in parts D and E of the form before giving it to Williamson. He also claimed the officer's action of later filling in the form was invalid because he did not re-sign to certify under penalty of perjury the information was true and correct.

An administrative hearing was held April 5, 2011. An administrative law judge (ALJ) found the officer had reasonable grounds to request a urine test. The ALJ also found the officer's failure to fully complete the form did not render the revocation invalid because "all of the information needed for the Department to act to issue a revocation was within the form." The ALJ's decision was affirmed by a reviewing officer, which constituted final agency action by the Department.

Williamson filed a petition seeking judicial review of the Department's decision. The district court determined even though Officer Reid did not fill in part D of the form, the information he certified under penalty of perjury was sufficient to satisfy section 321J.9. The court found the required certification was met by filling in part C. The court also noted that while under section 321J.9(4), an officer may give immediate notice of an intention to revoke a person's driver's license, immediate notice is not required. Williamson was properly given notice of the revocation in the official notice mailed on December 20, 2010. The court affirmed the decision of the Department. Williamson appeals.

II. Standard of Review.

Judicial review of a driver's license revocation by the Department for refusal to submit to chemical testing is governed by Iowa Code chapter 17A. Welch v. Iowa Dep't of Transp., 801 N.W.2d 590, 594 (Iowa 2011). The district court reviews the agency's decision for the correction of errors at law. Id. "On appeal, we apply the standards of chapter 17A to determine whether the conclusions we reach are the same as those of the district court." Id. This area of law has not been clearly vested in the discretion of the ...

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