Florida Court Finds DUI Hearing Officer Bias

Florida’s Fourth Circuit Court in Duval County delivered a striking ruling yesterday, strongly criticizing a FHSMV hearing officer.

Judge Haddock
Judge Haddock
Mr. Detlefsen was accused of a DUI and of refusing a breath test. At a hearing regarding revoking the driver’s license, the hearing officer wrote in his decision that he found the driver had a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher. Such a ruling is nonsense in a refusal case.

The agency protested that it was merely a “typographical error.” Circuit Judge Lawrence Haddock didn’t buy that theory, stating:

The conduct of the Hearing Officer in this case erodes confidence in the system, and enables petitioners to argue, as the Petitioner in this case understandably did, that “those Hearing Officers are not impartial. Their minds are made up before the hearing, and indeed, an order affirming the suspension is already drawn. They just substitute the names and numbers of the current petitioner.”

Fair DUI opposes suspending or revoking licenses until the accused has been proven guilty. DMV hearings such as these lack the appropriate level of due process required by the Constitution. The license punishment tends to force innocent people to plead guilty in order to get back the ability to drive.

Kudos to defense attorney Cheyenne Palmer for fighting the good fight. Read the decision via the link below (pdf).
Detlefsen v. DHSMV