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Frejo v. State ex rel. Department of Public Safety

Court of Appeals of Oklahoma, Division I

February 15, 2019

EMMERY L. FREJO, Plaintiff/Appellant,
v.
STATE of OKLAHOMA, ex rel., DEPARTMENT of PUBLIC SAFETY, Defendant/Appellee.

          Mandate Issued: 10/30/2019

          APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF OKLAHOMA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA HONORABLE JAMES B. CROY, TRIAL JUDGE

          Nicholas Lee, Norman, Oklahoma, for Appellant,

          Megan Simpson, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Appellee.

          Larry Joplin, Presiding Judge

         ¶1 Appellant, Emmery Frejo, appeals the order revoking her driver's license, issued by the district court on April 24, 2018 for driving under the influence (DUI) on October 13, 2017. Appellant Frejo asserts four propositions of error in her appeal. First, she asserts the Department of Public Safety (DPS) filed an amended order on the eve of Appellant's April 24, 2018 appeal hearing before the district court (order dated April 23, 2018) that provided a different basis on which to revoke her driver's license from that which was indicated in the March 12, 2018 final order from DPS. Appellant's second proposition asserts she was not granted a speedy trial within the sixty (60) day guideline provided in Nichols v. Dep't of Public Safety, 2017 OK 20, 392 P.3d 692. Appellant's third proposition asserts DPS failed to conduct the testing on Appellant's breath specimens in accordance with Board of Tests rules and on properly maintained and approved equipment. Appellant's fourth proposition of error asserts the equipment used for the bench checks performed on the breathalyser equipment was not approved by the Board of Tests and therefore violated the Board of Tests rules.

         ¶2 The right to appeal to the district court from a denial of driving privileges resulting from implied consent revocations is provided for in 47 O.S. Supp.2011 §6-211 and the district court's review of the agency's order is de novo. Appeal of Dungan, 1984 OK 21, 681 P.2d 750, 752. [1]

         ¶3 Appellant was driving shortly before midnight on October 13, 2017 when a highway patrol officer observed her failure to stay in a single lane of traffic and she struck the curb, after which the officer stopped Appellant's vehicle. When the officer stopped the car, he noted the smell of alcohol and asked Appellant to exit the car so that he might determine if the alcohol odor was coming from Appellant or her passenger. The officer testified he believed the smell of alcohol was noticeable on Appellant when she was out of the car and he proceeded to conduct several field sobriety tests as a result, noting multiple signs of intoxication with each of the tests.

         ¶4 The officer transported Appellant to the Oklahoma County Jail to conduct a breathalyser test using the Intoxilyzer 8000 located at the jail. The officer was trained to operate the machine and received a permit after his training, which was up to date at the time he conducted Appellant's breath tests. Appellant had a twenty-four (24) minute period of "deprivation" prior to the breath tests. The two breath samples taken within four (4) minutes of each other both resulted in readings of.20.

         ¶5 On October 16, 2017, Appellant requested an administrative hearing. The hearing was set for December 4, 2017. DPS continued the hearing without explanation and it was later set for January 23, 2018, outside the sixty (60) day guideline provided for in Nichols v. State ex rel. Dep't of Public Safety, 2017 OK 20, ¶29, 392 P.3d at 698.

         ¶6 The January 23, 2018 hearing resulted in a revocation order dated March 12, 2018, which stated Appellant "refused to submit to a chemical test after being requested to do so." From this March 12, 2018 order Appellant appealed to the district court. The appeal before the district court was set for April 24, 2018. On April 23, 2018, DPS filed an "amended order" stating Appellant's license was being revoked due to test results showing "an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more and said test was taken within two hours of the arrest[.]" At the hearing the next day, Appellant objected to the eleventh hour amendment of the March order from which she had appealed. The court overruled the objection and proceeded with the hearing using the amended April 23, 2018 order which set forth a different basis for Appellant's license revocation. The district court issued the appealed from order on April 24, 2018 sustaining the revocation of Appellant's driving privileges and permitting issuance of a modified driver's license with the operation of an ignition interlock device. From this order Appellant brings the instant appeal.

         ¶7 Appellant's first proposition of error asserts the district court erred when it overruled her objection to the Department's April 23, 2018 filing of an amended order. The appeal of a DPS license revocation to the district court is provided for in 47 O.S. Supp.2011 §6-211. DPS argues there was no harm caused to Appellant by virtue of the April amendment to the March order.

         ¶8 The Oklahoma Supreme Court has determined that a driver's claim to a driver's license is a protectable property interest and is subject to due process guarantees. Trusty v. State ex rel. Dep't of Public Safety, 2016 OK 94, ¶12, 381 P.3d 726, 731. At the same time, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has held "that an order granting or refusing an application for continuance would not be reversed on appeal unless it was clear that there was an abuse of discretion." Riley v. Lindley, 1946 OK 27, 165 P.2d 633, 634; 12 O.S. 2001 §667.

         ¶9 We agree with Appellant that there was not an order implicating her test results until the April 23, 2018 amended order was filed. However, Appellant had knowledge of the events the night of her arrest, she was aware she participated in the breath tests, and Appellant had previously defended the revocation on the basis of the elevated tests at the agency hearing on January 23, 2018. In addition, Appellant does not provide a record of how her defense would have been impacted, she does not elaborate regarding additional witnesses which she was not able to call due to being denied a continuance, nor does she explain whether her questioning of the highway patrol officer would have been different had she been given additional time to prepare. Keener Oil & Gas v. Bushong, 1936 OK 147, 56 P.2d 819 (absent showing by the defendant of a necessity to properly present its defense, court's denial of motion for continuance was not in ...


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