Edwards v. Idaho Transportation Department, 090919 IDSCCI, 45896

Docket Nº:45896
Opinion Judge:STEGNER, Justice.
Party Name:BRUCE ALLEN EDWARDS, Petitioner-Appellant, v. IDAHO TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT, Respondent.
Attorney:Watson Law Offices, PLLC, Coeur d'Alene, for appellant Bruce Allen Edwards. Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for respondent Idaho Transportation Department.
Judge Panel:Chief Justice BURDICK, Justices BRODY, BEVAN and MOELLER CONCUR.
Case Date:September 09, 2019
Court:Supreme Court of Idaho
 
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BRUCE ALLEN EDWARDS, Petitioner-Appellant,

v.

IDAHO TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT, Respondent.

No. 45896

Supreme Court of Idaho

September 9, 2019

Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Cynthia K.C. Meyer, District Judge.

The judgment of the district court is affirmed.

Watson Law Offices, PLLC, Coeur d'Alene, for appellant Bruce Allen Edwards.

Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for respondent Idaho Transportation Department.

STEGNER, Justice.

Due to a failed breath alcohol test and multiple convictions for driving under the influence, the Idaho Transportation Department disqualified Bruce Edwards' driving privileges to operate a commercial motor vehicle. The district court affirmed the Department's order and Edwards timely appealed. For the following reasons, we affirm the district court's judgment and the Department's lifetime disqualification of Edwards' commercial motor vehicle driving privileges.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The underlying facts of this case are not disputed. Edwards was issued a class A commercial driver's license on March 7, 2011. Edwards' class A commercial driver's license also authorized him to "operate vehicles requiring a class B, C or D license." See I.C. § 49-105(17)(a).

On April 25, 2012, Edwards was arrested in Boundary County, Idaho, for driving under the influence of alcohol after his breath test samples indicated a breath alcohol content of 0.085 and 0.082. This arrest did not lead to a DUI conviction. However, it did result in the suspension of his license. The Department then sustained a ninety-day administrative license suspension that was set forth in the Notice of Suspension given to Edwards the day of his arrest. Based on the suspension, which established that Edwards had failed an evidentiary breath test, the Department disqualified Edwards' commercial driver's license privileges for one year. The disqualification began on May 25, 2012, and was to be in effect until May 25, 2013. The Department specifically noted that the disqualification in no way affected Edwards' class D noncommercial driving privileges, which involved a separate and distinct proceeding. Edwards did not appeal this disqualification.

Edwards was arrested for a second DUI on January 27, 2013, in Kootenai County, Idaho. A blood draw demonstrated that Edwards' blood alcohol content was 0.125. Subsequently, Edwards pleaded guilty and was sentenced for driving under the influence of alcohol a month later.

On February 19, 2013, prior to his judgment of conviction, the Department sent Edwards a notice informing him of its intent to withdraw his driving privileges to operate any motor vehicle for one year. On that same day, the Department notified Edwards of its intention to disqualify Edwards' "privilege to operate a commercial vehicle" for his lifetime. Both the administrative license suspension to operate any vehicle and the disqualification of his ability to operate a commercial motor vehicle were to go into effect on March 25, 2013. However, both were eventually vacated by the district court. This occurred as follows: Edwards requested a hearing on the administrative license suspension stemming from the Kootenai County charge, which occurred on March 25, 2013. Two days later, the Department issued a written order upholding a year-long administrative license suspension. However, Edwards successfully appealed this administrative license suspension, which was vacated by the district court on March 24, 2015.

Edwards also challenged his lifetime disqualification stemming from the Kootenai County charge. Hearings on that request were held on December 3 and December 12, 2014. Subsequently, the Department issued a preliminary order disqualifying Edwards from operating a commercial motor vehicle for his lifetime. Edwards also appealed this decision to the district court. The district court also eventually vacated this lifetime disqualification on March 24, 2015.

While Edwards was in the process of contesting the Kootenai County administrative license suspension and disqualification, he was arrested for a third time on June 7, 2013, in Bonner County, Idaho. This arrest was also based on a driving under the influence charge. Edwards refused to be tested upon his arrest. On July 2, 2013, Magistrate Judge Debra Heise signed an order suspending all of Edwards' driving privileges for refusing to submit to an evidentiary test. The year-long suspension was part of a civil case, Case No. CV-2013-1060, beginning on June 17, 2013. This third arrest led to Edwards' conviction of driving under the influence in Bonner County on December 5, 2013. On that same day, Edwards' civil suspension case, Case No. CV-2013-1060, was vacated and dismissed. It is undisputed that Edwards did not have commercial driver's license privileges during these later convictions, because he had been disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle.

Approximately a year and a half later, the Department notified Edwards by letter and by a Notice of Lifetime Disqualification that it intended to impose a mandatory lifetime disqualification of his commercial driving privileges. The disqualification was to take effect on August 17, 2015. The Department claimed Edwards' initial 2012 administrative license suspension coupled with a second "major offense" warranted his lifetime disqualification. The Department's...

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