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Introduced Version Senate Bill 504 History

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Senate Bill No. 504

(By Senators Laird, Edgell, Stollings and D. Facemire)

 

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[Introduced February 14, 2011; referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure; then to the Committee on the Judiciary; and then to the Committee on Finance.]

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A BILL to amend and reenact §17C-5A-2 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and to amend said code by adding thereto a new section, designated §17C-5C-4a, all relating to administrative hearings for suspension and revocation of licenses for driving while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs; providing that the Office of Administrative Hearings send notices of hearings to the Division of Motor Vehicles and the Attorney General if the Attorney General has filed a notice of appearance and deleting the requirement that notice be sent to the county prosecuting attorney; providing the Office of Administrative Hearings subpoena authority; providing that the failure to obey a subpoena constitutes a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500; deleting the provision that a hearing notice sent by certified or registered mail to a law-enforcement officer constitutes a subpoena to appear; providing authority to impose certain fees; creating a special revenue account to support the activities of the Office of Administrative Hearings; and authorizing rulemaking.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

    That §17C-5A-2 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted; and that said code be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §17C-5C-4a, all to read as follows:

ARTICLE 5A. ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES FOR SUSPENSION AND REVOCATION OF LICENSES FOR DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL, CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES OR DRUGS.

§17C-5A-2. Hearing; revocation; review.

    (a) Written objections to an order of revocation or suspension under the provisions of section one of this article or section seven, article five of this chapter shall be filed with the Office of Administrative Hearings. Upon the receipt of an objection, the Office of Administrative Hearings shall notify the Commissioner of the Division of Motor Vehicles, who shall stay the imposition of the period of revocation or suspension and afford the person an opportunity to be heard by the Office of Administrative Hearings. The written objection must be filed with Office of Administrative Hearings in person or by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, within thirty calendar days after receipt of a copy of the order of revocation or suspension or no hearing will be granted. The hearing shall be before a hearing examiner employed by the Office of Administrative Hearings who shall rule on evidentiary issues. Upon consideration of the designated record, the hearing examiner shall, based on the determination of the facts of the case and applicable law, render a decision affirming, reversing or modifying the action protested. The decision shall contain findings of fact and conclusions of law and shall be provided to all parties by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested.

    (b) The hearing shall be held at an office of the Division of Motor Vehicles located in or near the county in which the arrest was made in this state or at some other suitable place in the county in which the arrest was made if an office of the division is not available. The Office of Administrative Hearings shall send a notice of hearing to the person whose license is at issue, the appropriate law-enforcement officers, and the prosecuting attorney the Division of Motor Vehicles and the Attorney General in the event the Attorney General has filed a notice of appearance of counsel on behalf of the Division of Motor Vehicles.

    (c) (1) Any hearing shall be held within one hundred eighty days after the date upon which the Office of Administrative Hearings received the timely written objection unless there is a postponement or continuance.

    (2) The Office of Administrative Hearings may postpone or continue any hearing on its own motion or upon application by the party whose license is at issue in that hearing or by the commissioner for good cause shown.

    (3) A notice of hearing to the appropriate law-enforcement officers by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, constitutes a subpoena to appear at the hearing without the necessity of payment of fees by the Division of Motor Vehicles.

    (3) The Office of Administrative Hearings has authority to issue subpoenas commanding the appearance of witnesses and subpoenas duces tecum commanding the submission of documents, items or other things. Subpoenas duces tecum shall be returnable on the date of the next scheduled hearing unless otherwise specified. The Office of Administrative hearings shall issue subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum upon request of any party or the party’s legal representative. The party requesting the subpoena is responsible for its service. Every subpoena or subpoena duces tecum shall be served at least five days before its return date by personal service made by a person over eighteen years of age or by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, and received by the party responsible for serving the subpoena or subpoena duces tecum. Failure to obey a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum issued by the Office of Administrative Hearings constitutes a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof a person may be fined up to $500. The fees for the attendance and travel of witnesses, unless otherwise provided, is the same as witnesses before the circuit court.

    (d) Law-enforcement officers shall be compensated for the time expended in their travel and appearance before the Office of Administrative Hearings by the law-enforcement agency by whom they are employed at their regular rate if they are scheduled to be on duty during said time or at their regular overtime rate if they are scheduled to be off duty during said time.

    (e) The principal question at the hearing shall be whether the person did drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs, or did drive a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration in the person's blood of eight hundredths of one percent or more, by weight, or did refuse to submit to the designated secondary chemical test, or did drive a motor vehicle while under the age of twenty-one years with an alcohol concentration in his or her blood of two hundredths of one percent or more, by weight, but less than eight hundredths of one percent, by weight.

    (f) In the case of a hearing in which a person is accused of driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs, or accused of driving a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration in the person's blood of eight hundredths of one percent or more, by weight, or accused of driving a motor vehicle while under the age of twenty-one years with an alcohol concentration in his or her blood of two hundredths of one percent or more, by weight, but less than eight hundredths of one percent, by weight, the Office of Administrative Hearings shall make specific findings as to: (1) Whether the investigating law-enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe the person to have been driving while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs, or while having an alcohol concentration in the person's blood of eight hundredths of one percent or more, by weight, or to have been driving a motor vehicle while under the age of twenty-one years with an alcohol concentration in his or her blood of two hundredths of one percent or more, by weight, but less than eight hundredths of one percent, by weight; (2) whether the person was lawfully placed under arrest for an offense involving driving under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs, or was lawfully taken into custody for the purpose of administering a secondary test: Provided, That this element shall be waived in cases where no arrest occurred due to driver incapacitation; (3) whether the person committed an offense involving driving under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs, or was lawfully taken into custody for the purpose of administering a secondary test; and (4) whether the tests, if any, were administered in accordance with the provisions of this article and article five of this chapter.

    (g) If, in addition to a finding that the person did drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs, or did drive a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration in the person's blood of eight hundredths of one percent or more, by weight, or did drive a motor vehicle while under the age of twenty-one years with an alcohol concentration in his or her blood of two hundredths of one percent or more, by weight, but less than eight hundredths of one percent, by weight, the Office of Administrative Hearings also finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the person when driving did an act forbidden by law or failed to perform a duty imposed by law, which act or failure proximately caused the death of a person and was committed in reckless disregard of the safety of others and if the Office of Administrative Hearings further finds that the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs or the alcohol concentration in the blood was a contributing cause to the death, the commissioner shall revoke the person's license for a period of ten years: Provided, That if the person's license has previously been suspended or revoked under the provisions of this section or section one of this article within the ten years immediately preceding the date of arrest, the period of revocation shall be for the life of the person.

    (h) If, in addition to a finding that the person did drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs, or did drive a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration in the person's blood of eight hundredths of one percent or more, by weight, the Office of Administrative Hearings also finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the person when driving did an act forbidden by law or failed to perform a duty imposed by law, which act or failure proximately caused the death of a person, the commissioner shall revoke the person's license for a period of five years: Provided, That if the person's license has previously been suspended or revoked under the provisions of this section or section one of this article within the ten years immediately preceding the date of arrest, the period of revocation shall be for the life of the person.

    (i) If, in addition to a finding that the person did drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs, or did drive a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration in the person's blood of eight hundredths of one percent or more, by weight, the Office of Administrative Hearings also finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the person when driving did an act forbidden by law or failed to perform a duty imposed by law, which act or failure proximately caused bodily injury to a person other than himself or herself, the commissioner shall revoke the person's license for a period of two years: Provided, That if the license has previously been suspended or revoked under the provisions of this section or section one of this article within the ten years immediately preceding the date of arrest, the period of revocation shall be ten years: Provided, however, That if the person's license has previously been suspended or revoked more than once under the provisions of this section or section one of this article within the ten years immediately preceding the date of arrest, the period of revocation shall be for the life of the person.

    (j) If the Office of Administrative Hearings finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the person did drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs, or did drive a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration in the person's blood of eight hundredths of one percent or more, by weight, but less than fifteen hundredths of one percent or more, by weight, or finds that the person knowingly permitted the person's vehicle to be driven by another person who was under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs, or knowingly permitted the person's vehicle to be driven by another person who had an alcohol concentration in his or her blood of eight hundredths of one percent or more, by weight the commissioner shall revoke the person's license for a period of six months or a period of fifteen days with an additional one hundred and twenty days of participation in the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program in accordance with the provisions of section three-a of this article: Provided, That any period of participation in the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program that has been imposed by a court pursuant to section two-b, article five of this chapter shall be credited against any period of participation imposed by the commissioner: Provided further, however, That a person whose license is revoked for driving while under the influence of drugs is not eligible to participate in the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program: Provided however further, That if the person's license has previously been suspended or revoked under the provisions of this section or section one of this article within the ten years immediately preceding the date of arrest, the period of revocation shall be ten years: And provided further, That if the person's license has previously been suspended or revoked more than once under the provisions of this section or section one of this article within the ten years immediately preceding the date of arrest, the period of revocation shall be for the life of the person.

    (k) (1) If in addition to finding by a preponderance of the evidence that the person did drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substance or drugs, the Office of Administrative Hearings also finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the person did drive a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration in the person's blood of fifteen hundredths of one percent or more, by weight, the commissioner shall revoke the person's license for a period of forty-five days with an additional two hundred and seventy days of participation in the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program in accordance with the provisions of article three-a, article five-a, chapter seventeen-c of this code: Provided, That if the person's license has previously been suspended or revoked under the provisions of this section or section one of this article within the ten years immediately preceding the date of arrest, the period of revocation shall be ten years: Provided, however, That if the person's license has previously been suspended or revoked the person's license more than once under the provisions of this section or section one of this article within the ten years immediately preceding the date of arrest, the period of revocation shall be for the life of the person.

    (2) If a person whose license is revoked pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection proves by clear and convincing evidence that they do not own a motor vehicle upon which the alcohol test and lock device may be installed or is otherwise incapable of participating in the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program, the period of revocation shall be one hundred eighty days: Provided, That if the person's license has previously been suspended or revoked under the provisions of this section or section one of this article within the ten years immediately preceding the date of arrest, the period of revocation shall be ten years: Provided, however, That if the person's license has previously been suspended or revoked more than once under the provisions of this section or section one of this article within the ten years immediately preceding the date of arrest, the period of revocation shall be for the life of the person.

    (l) If, in addition to a finding that the person did drive a motor vehicle while under the age of twenty-one years with an alcohol concentration in his or her blood of two hundredths of one percent or more, by weight, but less than eight hundredths of one percent, by weight, the Office of Administrative Hearings also finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the person when driving did an act forbidden by law or failed to perform a duty imposed by law, which act or failure proximately caused the death of a person, and if the Office of Administrative Hearings further finds that the alcohol concentration in the blood was a contributing cause to the death, the commissioner shall revoke the person's license for a period of five years: Provided, That if the person's license has previously been suspended or revoked under the provisions of this section or section one of this article within the ten years immediately preceding the date of arrest, the period of revocation shall be for the life of the person.

    (m) If, in addition to a finding that the person did drive a motor vehicle while under the age of twenty-one years with an alcohol concentration in his or her blood of two hundredths of one percent or more, by weight, but less than eight hundredths of one percent, by weight, the Office of Administrative Hearings also finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the person when driving did an act forbidden by law or failed to perform a duty imposed by law, which act or failure proximately caused bodily injury to a person other than himself or herself, and if the Office of Administrative Hearings further finds that the alcohol concentration in the blood was a contributing cause to the bodily injury, the commissioner shall revoke the person's license for a period of two years: Provided, That if the person's license has previously been suspended or revoked under the provisions of this section or section one of this article within the ten years immediately preceding the date of arrest, the period of revocation shall be ten years: Provided, however, That if the person's license has previously been suspended or revoked more than once under the provisions of this section or section one of this article within the ten years immediately preceding the date of arrest, the period of revocation shall be for the life of the person.

    (n) If the Office of Administrative Hearings finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the person did drive a motor vehicle while under the age of twenty-one years with an alcohol concentration in his or her blood of two hundredths of one percent or more, by weight, but less than eight hundredths of one percent, by weight, the commissioner shall suspend the person's license for a period of sixty days: Provided, That if the person's license has previously been suspended or revoked under the provisions of this section or section one of this article, the period of revocation shall be for one year, or until the person's twenty-first birthday, whichever period is longer.

    (o) If, in addition to a finding that the person did drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs, or did drive a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration in the person's blood of eight hundredths of one percent or more, by weight, the Office of Administrative Hearings also finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the person when driving did have on or within the motor vehicle another person who has not reached his or her sixteenth birthday, the commissioner shall revoke the person's license for a period of one year: Provided, That if the person's license has previously been suspended or revoked under the provisions of this section or section one of this article within the ten years immediately preceding the date of arrest, the period of revocation shall be ten years: Provided, however, That if the person's license has previously been suspended or revoked more than once under the provisions of this section or section one of this article within the ten years immediately preceding the date of arrest, the period of revocation shall be for the life of the person.

    (p) For purposes of this section, where reference is made to previous suspensions or revocations under this section, the following types of criminal convictions or administrative suspensions or revocations shall also be regarded as suspensions or revocations under this section or section one of this article:

    (1) Any administrative revocation under the provisions of the prior enactment of this section for conduct which occurred within the ten years immediately preceding the date of arrest;

    (2) Any suspension or revocation on the basis of a conviction under a municipal ordinance of another state or a statute of the United States or of any other state of an offense which has the same elements as an offense described in section two, article five of this chapter for conduct which occurred within the ten years immediately preceding the date of arrest; or

    (3) Any revocation under the provisions of section seven, article five of this chapter for conduct which occurred within the ten years immediately preceding the date of arrest.

    (q) In the case of a hearing in which a person is accused of refusing to submit to a designated secondary test, the Office of Administrative Hearings shall make specific findings as to: (1) Whether the arresting law-enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe the person had been driving a motor vehicle in this state while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs; (2) whether the person was lawfully placed under arrest for an offense involving driving under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs, or was lawfully taken into custody for the purpose of administering a secondary test: Provided, That this element shall be waived in cases where no arrest occurred due to driver incapacitation; (3) whether the person committed an offense relating to driving a motor vehicle in this state while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs; (4) whether the person refused to submit to the secondary test finally designated in the manner provided in section four, article five of this chapter; and (5) whether the person had been given a written statement advising the person that the person's license to operate a motor vehicle in this state would be revoked for at least forty-five days and up to life if the person refused to submit to the test finally designated in the manner provided in said section.

    (r) If the Office of Administrative Hearings finds by a preponderance of the evidence that: (1) The investigating officer had reasonable grounds to believe the person had been driving a motor vehicle in this state while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs; (2) whether the person was lawfully placed under arrest for an offense involving driving under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs, or was lawfully taken into custody for the purpose of administering a secondary test: Provided, That this element shall be waived in cases where no arrest occurred due to driver incapacitation; (3) the person committed an offense relating to driving a motor vehicle in this state while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs; (4) the person refused to submit to the secondary test finally designated in the manner provided in section four, article five of this chapter; and (5) the person had been given a written statement advising the person that the person's license to operate a motor vehicle in this state would be revoked for at least forty-five days and up to life if the person refused to submit to the test finally designated, the commissioner shall revoke the person's license to operate a motor vehicle in this state for the periods specified in section seven, article five of this chapter. The revocation period prescribed in this subsection shall run concurrently with any other revocation period ordered under this section or section one of this article arising out of the same occurrence. The revocation period prescribed in this subsection shall run concurrently with any other revocation period ordered under this section or section one of this article arising out of the same occurrence.

    (s) If the Office of Administrative Hearings finds to the contrary with respect to the above issues the commissioner shall rescind his or her earlier order of revocation or shall reduce the order of revocation to the appropriate period of revocation under this section or section seven, article five of this chapter. A copy of the Office of Administrative Hearings' findings of fact and conclusions of law made and entered following the hearing shall be served upon the person whose license is at issue and the commissioner by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested. During the pendency of any hearing, the revocation of the person's license to operate a motor vehicle in this state shall be stayed.

    A person whose license is at issue and the commissioner shall be entitled to judicial review as set forth in chapter twenty-nine-a of this code. Neither the commissioner nor the Office of Administrative Hearings may stay enforcement of the order. The court may grant a stay or supersede as of the order only upon motion and hearing, and a finding by the court upon the evidence presented, that there is a substantial probability that the appellant shall prevail upon the merits and the appellant will suffer irreparable harm if the order is not stayed: Provided, That in no event shall the stay or supersede as of the order exceed one hundred fifty days. Notwithstanding the provisions of section four, article five of said chapter, the Office of Administrative Hearings may not be compelled to transmit a certified copy of the file or the transcript of the hearing to the circuit court in less than sixty days.

    (t) In any revocation or suspension pursuant to this section, if the driver whose license is revoked or suspended had not reached the driver's eighteenth birthday at the time of the conduct for which the license is revoked or suspended, the driver's license shall be revoked or suspended until the driver's eighteenth birthday or the applicable statutory period of revocation or suspension prescribed by this section, whichever is longer.

    (u) Funds for this section's hearing and appeal process may be provided from the Drunk Driving Prevention Fund, as created by section forty-one, article two, chapter fifteen of this code, upon application for the funds to the Commission on Drunk Driving Prevention.

ARTICLE 5C. OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS.

§17C-5C-4a. Rulemaking authority; assessment of costs; special account created.

    (a) The Office of Administrative Hearings is authorized to propose legislative rules in accordance with article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code in order to implement this section.

    (b) The Office of Administrative Hearings is required to assess witness costs at the same rate as witness fees in circuit court and a docket fee of $10 for each hearing request against any person filing a request for a hearing under section two, article five-a of this chapter. The Office of Administrative Hearings is also required to assess fees for the costs of providing hearing transcripts or documents of record requested by a party.

    (c) All fees and costs collected pursuant to this section shall be paid into a special revenue account, designated as the Office of Administrative Hearings Fund, in the State Treasury. The Secretary of the Department of Transportation, upon request of the Chief Hearing Examiner of the Office of Administrative Hearings, may authorize the use of moneys collected and deposited in the special revenue account to support the legitimate duties and activities of the Office of Administrative Hearings. The secretary may authorize the transfer of funds from the Office of Administrative Hearings Fund to an appropriate agency account to pay costs of registered and certified mailings and other expenses associated with the conduct of hearings under this article. The secretary shall propose legislative rules to regulate the transfer and use of moneys collected and deposited in the Office of Administrative Hearings account.



    NOTE: The purpose of this bill concerns administrative hearings for suspension and revocation of licenses for driving while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs, The bill provides that the Office of Administrative Hearings send notices of hearings to the Division of Motor Vehicles and the Attorney General if the Attorney General has filed a notice of appearance and deletes the requirement that notice be sent to the county prosecuting attorney;. The bill provides the Office of Administrative Hearings subpoena authority and failure to obey a subpoena constitutes a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500. The bill deletes the provision that a hearing notice sent by certified or registered mail to a law-enforcement officer constitutes a subpoena to appear;. The bill also provides authority to impose certain fees and that a special revenue account be created to support the activities of the Office of Administrative Hearings. The bill further authorizes rulemaking.


    Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.


    §17C-5C-4a is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.

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