Friday, January 07, 2011

DUI Appeal of the Day - Hearing Officer's refusal to authorize subpoena improper

In Florida Dept of Hwys and Motor Vehicles v. Auster, --- So.3d ----, 2010 WL 5391552 (Fla.App. 5 Dist.), the defendant sought to challenge her suspension for refusing a breath test, based upon her claim that she had timely recanted her refusal to submit to a breath test. In that regard, she sought to subpoena the breath technician to confirm her claim. The hearing officer, upon whose authority the subpoena must issue, refused to authorize the same. She then lost the hearing, and appealed. On appeal, the court stated:

A hearing officer is expressly authorized to issue subpoenas for officers and witnesses identified in the documents submitted by a law enforcement officer pursuant to section 322.2615(2). See § 322.2615(6)(b), Fla. Stat. (2008). Here, Caner was identified in these documents. Furthermore, according to DHSMV's own rules, the procedural due process rights afforded a driver seeking formal review of a license suspension under section 322.2615 include “the right to present evidence relevant to the issues, to cross-examine opposing witnesses, to impeach any witness, and to rebut the evidence presented against the driver.” See Fla. Admin. Code R. 15A-6.013(5). The question of whether Auster timely rescinded her refusal to submit to a breath test is a relevant issue.

Continuing, the appellate court held that:

Where the witness' expected testimony would be relevant to the issues within the limited scope of the review hearing and would not be clearly cumulative, due process considerations require the hearing officer to issue a subpoena if the hearing officer has the authority to do so.

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