17-Year-Old Loses DMV Hearing But Gets License Back On Appeal

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17-year-old Erik Taylor was driving two friends home from a school dance in his Toyota pickup truck.

As Officer Hohmann’s car passed by Taylor’s truck, “someone inside [Taylor’s] vehicle yelled loudly, and [Taylor’s] vehicle cut sharply behind Hohmann” as Taylor made a left turn. Officer Hohmann detained Taylor and gave him a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test which showed Taylor’s blood alcohol concentration was greater than .01%.

Taylor requested an Under 21 DMV Admin Per Se Hearing and lost. The DMV suspended Taylor’s privilege to drive.

Taylor challenged the DMV’s decision by filing a petition for a writ of mandate in the superior court on the grounds that the PAS testing was not incidental to a lawful detention.

The superior court agreed with Taylor and granted the writ of mandate, concluding that the detention was unlawful. The court ordered the DMV to give Taylor back his driving privileges.

The DMV filed an appeal.

The DMV based its argument on the premise that, because minors “have a low privacy interest,” the type of “cause” necessary to detain them should be “a more flexible ‘reasonableness’ standard … [so that] police personnel can enforce [Vehicle Code section 23136] without being constrained by the strict criminal detention requirements.”

However, the Court of Appeal said, “no reasonable construction of Vehicle Code section 23136 can support the DMV’s assertion.”  The Court noted “Vehicle Code section 23136 specifically requires that PAS testing “be incidental to a lawful detention.” The Court further said, “we reject the DMV’s claim that the words “lawful detention” refer to anything other than a detention which is lawful under the Fourth Amendment.”

The DMV also contended that Officer Hohmann’s detention of Taylor was lawful under the Fourth Amendment.

The Court of Appeal disagreed by pointing out that “a sharp but entirely legal turn and a yell from within a vehicle do not indicate that the driver is under the influence of alcohol, nor do these facts objectively indicate that there is any other criminal activity afoot. Consequently, Hohmann’s detention of Taylor was not lawful, and the suspension of Taylor’s license was not permitted.”

This citation for this opinion is Taylor v. Department of Motor Vehicles (1995) 36 Cal.App.4th 812.

If you have been detained or arrested for a DUI, contact The Law Office of Richard Wagner at (714) 721-4423.

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