State v. Thompson, No. 19-0754

CourtSupreme Court of West Virginia
Writing for the CourtJenkins, Justice
Citation243 W.Va. 46,842 S.E.2d 250
Decision Date24 April 2020
Docket Number No. 19-0755,No. 19-0754
Parties STATE of West Virginia EX REL. Everett FRAZIER, Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles, Petitioner v. Honorable William S. THOMPSON, Judge of the Circuit Court of Boone County, and Dylan Price, Respondents State of West Virginia ex rel. Everett Frazier, Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles, Petitioner v. Honorable William S. Thompson, Judge of the Circuit Court of Boone County, and Nicholas Blankenship, Respondents

243 W.Va. 46
842 S.E.2d 250

STATE of West Virginia EX REL. Everett FRAZIER, Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles, Petitioner
v.
Honorable William S. THOMPSON, Judge of the Circuit Court of Boone County, and Dylan Price, Respondents

State of West Virginia ex rel.
Everett Frazier, Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles, Petitioner
v.
Honorable William S. Thompson, Judge of the Circuit Court of Boone County, and Nicholas Blankenship, Respondents

No. 19-0754
No. 19-0755

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.

Submitted: January 28, 2020
Filed: April 24, 2020


Patrick Morrisey, Attorney General, Elaine L. Skorich, Assistant Attorney General, Charleston, West Virginia, Attorneys for the Petitioner.

Wendle Cook, Cook and Cook, Madison, West Virginia, Attorney for the Respondents, Dylan Price and Nicholas Blankenship.

Jenkins, Justice:

842 S.E.2d 253

The petitioner in these consolidated cases, Everett Frazier,1 Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles ("DMV"), requests this Court to prohibit the Circuit Court of Boone County from enforcing orders it entered on August 16, 2018, and May 8, 2019. By those orders, the circuit court stayed the administrative revocation of the driver's licenses of the respondent drivers, Dylan Price ("Mr. Price") and Nicholas Blankenship ("Mr. Blankenship"), while their appeals from the revocation rulings were pending in the circuit court. In requesting a writ of prohibition to prevent the circuit court from enforcing these orders, the DMV contends that the circuit court has, by issuing these stays, failed to comply with the statutory procedure prescribed for the issuance of such a stay set forth in West Virginia Code section 17C-5A-2(s) (LexisNexis 2017).2 Having reviewed the parties’ arguments and briefs, the appendix records, and the pertinent authorities, we agree with the DMV's assertion that the circuit court has erred by not complying with the requisite statutory procedure for granting a stay of an administrative revocation of a driver's license to operate a motor vehicle in this State. Accordingly, and in recognition of the different procedural postures of the two instant matters, we grant as moulded the requested writ of prohibition in Case Number 19-0754, and, as to Case Number 19-0755, we grant the requested writ of prohibition.

I.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Although the two matters before us share many similar aspects, they also have distinct differences. Therefore, we will recount the facts and procedural history of each of the consolidated cases separately.

A. Case Number 19-0754: Dylan Price

Mr. Price was involved in a single-vehicle accident in Boone County, West Virginia, on May 27, 2018. As a result of this incident, and as stated in the DMV's "ORDER OF REVOCATION NOTICE" dated May 31, 2018, Mr. Price was charged with "driving a motor vehicle ... in West Virginia while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, drugs or a combination of those and ... proximately caus[ing] the death of another person [Mr. Price's passenger] while acting in reckless disregard of the safety of other people." Further, the DMV determined that, as a result of these charges, Mr. Price's "driving privileges will be revoked at 12:01 a.m. ET on Jul[y] 05, 2018." Finally, the revocation order informed Mr. Price that he "may contest the DUI by filing a Written Objection Form with the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) ... within 30 days after receiving the Revocation Notice ." Thereafter, another individual who shares Mr. Price's mailing address signed a certified mail receipt on June 2, 2018, reflecting delivery and receipt of the DMV's May 31, 2018 revocation order.

Counsel for Mr. Price then filed the referenced "WRITTEN OBJECTION AND HEARING REQUEST FORM" with the Office of Administrative Hearings ("OAH") to challenge the administrative revocation of his driver's license. The form's instructions also provided the deadline for challenging the DMV's revocation ruling cited in the DMV's earlier order:

[L ]ate written objections may not be considered. If you dispute an order revoking ... your driver's license for a DUI related offense as outlined in W. Va. Code § 17C-5A-2, this form MUST BE FILED WITH THE OAH WITHIN THIRTY (30) CALENDAR DAYS FROM THE DATE YOU RECEIVED THE DMV ORDER YOU ARE CONTESTING.
842 S.E.2d 254

The form, itself, does not reflect the date on which it was submitted, but the OAH stamped the document as having been received on July 5, 2018. Because this date was more than thirty calendar days from Mr. Price's receipt of the DMV's revocation order, the OAH determined that his "request for an administrative hearing regarding this matter is untimely ... and must be denied."

Mr. Price, by counsel, then filed a "PETITION FOR REVIEW OF ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER" in the Circuit Court of Boone County. After recounting the matter's procedural history, from arrest and revocation to request for and denial of an administrative hearing, Mr. Price argued that the OAH had erred by refusing to grant him a hearing and incorrectly calculating the period within which he was required to file his request for an administrative hearing. Mr. Price also asked the circuit court for relief, including

that the Office of Administrative Hearings be required to produce a true and accurate copy of the transcript of the hearing and all exhibits contained within the file, that an order be entered staying the revocation order entered by letter dated May 31, 2018, with an effective date of July 5, 2018, and that the revocation order be stayed until such time as a hearing on the merits of the petition can be held[.]

By ex parte order entered August 16, 2018, the circuit court found "that it has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to Chapter 29A-5-4 of the West Virginia Code. It is therefore ordered that this petition be filed." The court also ordered the DMV to "file with the Clerk of this Court a complete copy of all exhibits in the file, and a copy of all administrative orders made by the Commissioner within 30 days after receipt of this Order." Finally, the court "ordered that [Mr. Price's] driving privileges shall be temporarily reinstated pending the outcome of this petition."

Upon learning of this ruling, the DMV filed a "NOTICE OF SPECIAL LIMITED APPEARANCE; MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION, VENUE, AND FAILURE TO JOIN A PARTY; AND REQUEST FOR ATTORNEY FEES AND COSTS" also in the Circuit Court of Boone County. The DMV primarily objected to the circuit court's entry of an order granting relief to Mr. Price because the OAH had not granted him an administrative hearing or issued a ruling with regard to his challenge of his driver's license revocation, and, thus, the DMV argued that the circuit court did not have jurisdiction because the matter did not constitute a "contested case" under the West Virginia Administrative Procedures Act. Although the circuit court held a hearing on the DMV's motion to dismiss, the court has not entered an order either granting or refusing the DMV's request for relief. Therefore, the DMV now seeks a writ of prohibition from this Court to prevent the circuit court from enforcing its August 16, 2018 ex parte order finding that it has jurisdiction to entertain Mr. Price's petition for review, granting a stay of his driver's license revocation during the pendency of the circuit court proceedings, and ordering the DMV to compile and file a record of the administrative proceedings regarding Mr. Price's license revocation.

B. Case Number 19-0755: Nicholas Blankenship

Mr. Blankenship was involved in a single-vehicle accident in Logan County, West Virginia, on July 19, 2012. The administration of field sobriety tests suggested that Mr. Blankenship was impaired, and, as noted in the OAH's Hearing Examiner's April 9, 2019 "FINAL ORDER," the investigating officer arrested Mr. Blankenship for "driving while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, drugs or any combination of the aforementioned." Thereafter, "[t]he Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles entered an Order of Revocation dated October 1, 2013, revoking the driving privileges of [Mr. Blankenship] for the offense of driving a motor vehicle in this [S]tate while under the influence of controlled substances, and[/]or drugs." Mr. Blankenship filed a timely request for an administrative hearing to challenge the revocation of his driver's license; the OAH granted his request; and a hearing was held on Mr. Blankenship's revocation challenge. By "FINAL ORDER OF CHIEF HEARING EXAMINER" entered April 10, 2019, the OAH affirmed the DMV's

842 S.E.2d 255

revocation of Mr. Blankenship's license to drive a motor vehicle in this State.

Counsel for Mr. Blankenship then appealed from the OAH's order affirming Mr. Blankenship's license revocation by filing a "PETITION FOR REVIEW OF ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER" in the Circuit Court of Boone County. In his petition, Mr. Blankenship claimed, among other things, that the arresting officer failed to correctly...

To continue reading

Request your trial
1 practice notes
  • State ex rel. Frazier v. McGraw, No. 20-0142
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • November 2, 2020
    ...Va. Code § 29A-5-4 (1998). We agree.We recently analyzed the term "contested case" under the Act. See State ex rel. Frazier v. Thompson , 243 W. Va. 46, 842 S.E.2d 250 (2020). The facts in Thompson show that one of the drivers therein did not timely appeal the DMV order of revocation to the......
1 cases
  • State ex rel. Frazier v. McGraw, No. 20-0142
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • November 2, 2020
    ...Va. Code § 29A-5-4 (1998). We agree.We recently analyzed the term "contested case" under the Act. See State ex rel. Frazier v. Thompson , 243 W. Va. 46, 842 S.E.2d 250 (2020). The facts in Thompson show that one of the drivers therein did not timely appeal the DMV order of revocation to the......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT