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Watson v. Iowa Department of Transportation

Court of Appeal of Iowa

July 24, 2013

BRANDON DEAN WATSON, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
IOWA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, MOTOR VEHICLE DIVISION, Respondent-Appellee.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Christopher McDonald, Judge.

Brandon Dean Watson appeals the district court's ruling on judicial review affirming the one-year disqualification of his commercial driver's license for operating a commercial motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit of 0.04, in violation of Iowa Code section 321.208(1)(a) (2009).

Billy J. Mallory of Brick Gentry, P.C., West Des Moines, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Michelle R. Linkvis, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Danilson and Mullins, JJ.

DANILSON, J.

Brandon Dean Watson appeals the district court's ruling on judicial review affirming the one-year disqualification of his commercial driver's license (CDL) for operating a commercial motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit of 0.04, in violation of Iowa Code section 321.208(1)(a) (2009). He asserts the court erred in determining the officer needed only reasonable grounds to believe that Watson had a blood alcohol concentration of .04 or greater, rather than .08 as set out in Iowa Code section 321J.2, to administer a chemical test. Finding no basis upon which to superimpose the requirements of sections 321J.6 upon this CDL disqualification, we affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

On October 22, 2010, Watson was driving a commercial motor vehicle in Monroe County, Iowa. Iowa State Trooper Bartt Carney stopped Watson for a speeding violation. Watson consented to the trooper's request to sample

Watson's breath using a DATAMASTER unit. The test results indicated Watson had a blood alcohol concentration of .041, which is in excess of the legal limit for drivers operating commercial vehicles under Iowa Code section 321.208. Watson received notice of a one-year disqualification of is CDL.

Watson appealed the disqualification. An administrative law judge (ALJ) upheld the disqualification, as did a reviewing officer on intra-agency appeal.

Watson then filed a petition for judicial review. The district court held a hearing and the parties discovered the transcript from the ALJ hearing was missing. The district court remanded the case back to the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT).

ALJ David Lindgren conducted a second hearing, limiting Watson to presenting testimony relevant to the issue of whether the DATAMASTER's .04 margin of error applies to a CDL revocation. ALJ Lindgren issued a ruling on July 29, 2011, concluding section 321J.12(6)'s margin of error does not apply to section 321.208. Watson's CDL disqualification was upheld by the ALJ and by a reviewing officer.

Watson filed a second petition for judicial review. The district court affirmed in part and reversed in part, ruling the IDOT correctly found that margin of error did not apply to a CDL revocation, but Watson should have been allowed to present his argument that there was not probable cause or reasonable suspicion to administer the test when the matter was remanded.

The margin-of-error issue was appealed and our supreme court recently affirmed. See Watson v. Iowa Dep't of Transp. Motor Vehicle Div., 829 N.W.2d 566, 568-71 (Iowa 2013) (rejecting Watson's claim that section 321J.12(6) required the IDOT, before making a determination of alcohol concentration for the purpose of suspending a noncommercial ...


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