Argued: October 7, 2019
Circuit Court for Carroll County, Case No. C-06-CV-18-000090,
Thomas F. Stansfield, Judge.
by Leight D. Collins, Asst. Atty. Gen., (Brian E. Frosh,
Atty. Gen., of Maryland, Glen Burnie, MD), on brief, for
by Kelly S. Kylis (McNamee, Hosea, Jernigan, Kim, Greenan &
Lynch, P.A., Annapolis, MD), on brief, for Respondent.
before: Barbera, C.J., McDonald, Watts, Hotten, Getty, Booth,
Alan M. Wilner (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.
Md. 458] This appeal was taken from a decision of the Circuit
Court for Carroll County, which affirmed the decision of an
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), holding that an
officer did not have reasonable grounds to believe Ariel
Medvedeff ("Respondent") was driving or attempting
to drive a motor vehicle while impaired, when the officer
approached the vehicle following a traffic infraction,
observed Respondent sitting in the drivers seat, and smelled
alcohol on her breath and person. [466 Md. 459] The Motor
Vehicle Administration ("Petitioner") appealed the
decision by the ALJ and the circuit court, and presents a
single issue for our review:
Did the administrative law judge err in imposing his
credibility determinations and inferences from circumstances
at the scene of the drunk driving arrest to make a legal
determination that the detaining officer lacked reasonable
grounds to suspect that [Respondent], who was seated in the
drivers seat after a traffic stop, was driving the vehicle,
and therefore the officer could not request that she take an
alcohol concentration test under Transportation Article §
reasons we shall explain infra, we answer that
question in the affirmative and reverse the decision of the
Circuit Court for Carroll County.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
administrative show-cause hearing elicited the following
facts. On December 30, 2017 at approximately 11:45 p.m.,
Deputy Kathleen Yox ("Deputy Yox") and another
unnamed deputy from the Carroll County Sheriffs Department
conducted a routine traffic stop of a vehicle they observed
failing to stop at a stop sign in Westminster, Maryland. The
vehicle— a Ford F-350 pick-up truck— made a right
turn at the stop sign instead of coming to a complete stop.
As a result of the traffic infraction, Deputy Yox pulled
behind the pick-up truck and attempted to pull the driver
over. Upon noticing the police vehicle, the driver of the
pick-up truck traveled for a short distance before turning
left into a shopping center parking lot, where Deputy Yox
approached the vehicle from behind. At that time, Deputy Yox
observed Respondent sitting in the drivers seat. A man, who
was later identified during the traffic stop as Anthony Crany
("Mr. Crany"), was seated in the back of the truck,
approach, Deputy Yox detected the odor of alcohol on
Respondents breath and person. Accordingly, Deputy Yox
requested that Respondent exit the vehicle and submit to a
[466 Md. 460] series of Standard Field Sobriety Tests
("SFSTs") to ascertain whether she had been driving
while under the influence of or impaired by alcohol.
Respondent complied with the request to exit the vehicle,
while Mr. Crany remained in the backseat.
the SFSTs Deputy Yox performed on Respondent was a
Preliminary Breath Test. The Preliminary Breath Test sample
determined that Respondent had a ...