Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Motor Vehicle Administration v. Pollard

Court of Appeals of Maryland

December 23, 2019

MOTOR VEHICLE ADMINISTRATION
v.
JOHN W. POLLARD

          Argued: October 2, 2019

          Circuit Court for Caroline County Case No. C-05-CV-18-000156

          Barbera, C.J., McDonald, Watts, Hotten, Getty, Booth, Greene, Clayton, Jr. (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.

          OPINION

          Hotten, J.

         The Motor Vehicle Administration ("MVA"), seeks review of an adverse decision by an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). The MVA alleges that the ALJ failed to consider whether the detaining officer had reasonable grounds to believe that the individual, John W. Pollard ("Pollard"), was driving or attempting to drive his vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The ALJ found that Pollard did not drive under the influence of alcohol in violation of Md. Code § 16-205.1 of the Transportation Article ("Transp.") but instead used his vehicle as a "shelter." The Circuit Court for Caroline County affirmed the ALJ's decision. We granted certiorari to answer the following question:

Was the administrative law judge in error to believe that a drunk driving suspect who refused a test for alcohol concentration could avoid a license suspension by asserting the defense he was "sheltering" in a vehicle without regard to the detaining officer's reasonable grounds to believe that the motorist had been driving his vehicle while under the influence of alcohol?

         For reasons discussed below, we answer that question in the affirmative and reverse the judgment of the Circuit Court for Caroline County.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Factual Background

         On October 1, 2017 at 12:07 a.m., Trooper John Tucker ("Trooper Tucker") found Pollard in his vehicle after responding to a trespassing call. Pollard parked his vehicle on or near the driveway of his ex-girlfriend's house, situated in a rural area off a dirt road. The keys were in the ignition, but the vehicle was parked and not running. Pollard's driver seat was reclined, and Pollard informed Trooper Tucker that he had been asleep for about thirty to forty-five minutes.

         Trooper Tucker woke Pollard, observed that his eyes were bloodshot, and detected that his speech was slurred. Trooper Tucker also noticed a strong odor of alcohol emanating from Pollard's breath. Trooper Tucker initially requested Pollard leave the premises, but when he refused, Trooper Tucker asked Pollard to perform standardized field sobriety tests and take a preliminary breath test. Pollard refused. Thereafter, Trooper Tucker read Pollard the "Advice of Rights" or DR-15 form, which, among other things, advises the detained individual of the possible sanctions for refusing to take an alcohol concentration test under Transp. § 16-205.1 and the individual's hearing rights and right to participate in the Ignition Interlock System Program. Pollard then requested that Trooper Tucker contact his attorney, which Trooper Tucker did. Pollard's attorney did not answer, and Trooper Tucker did not leave a message. Pollard again refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. Trooper Tucker detained Pollard, confiscated his license, and issued an Order of Suspension for refusing to take the breathalyzer test in violation of Transp. § 16-205.1.

         Procedural Background

         On October 6, 2017, Pollard requested an administrative hearing pursuant to Transp. § 16-205.1, and requested that the ALJ subpoena Trooper Tucker to testify about whether Pollard was in actual physical control of his vehicle, whether he had an opportunity to consult his attorney, and whether his vehicle was on private property. The ALJ granted this request and moved the hearing to July 25, 2018, in Easton, Maryland where Trooper Tucker was assigned. The subpoena was issued on June 13, 2018, but Trooper Tucker did not appear at the hearing on July 25, 2018, or submit documentation justifying his absence.

         At the hearing, the ALJ proceeded without Trooper Tucker and rendered a decision without Trooper Tucker's live testimony.[1] At the hearing, Pollard argued that Transp. § 16-205.1 was not applicable to him because he was not in actual physical control of his vehicle and was using it as shelter. Put another way, Pollard argued he did not violate Transp. § 16-205.1 because he did not operate the vehicle. The ALJ agreed with Pollard's argument and relied on Atkinson v. State, 331 Md. 199, 627 A.2d 1019 (1993), where this Court explained that an individual is not in "actual physical control" of the individual's vehicle if the individual is sheltering in the vehicle. The ALJ, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.