Graton v. Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles
Pro Se Argued DMV Officer Did Not Request Objections And Documents
Criminal Law | Motor Vehicles (Criminal) | Evidence | Admissibility
- New Britain J.D., at New Britain
- Dec 09 2013 (Date Decided)
- Prescott, J.
It does not constitute an abuse of discretion, if a hearing officer for the Department of Motor Vehicles does not postpone a hearing, solicit objections or invite a pro se individual to introduce documents into evidence. Samantha Tiano complained to the police that Clinton Graton allegedly drove his motor vehicle into her yard. Police who responded found that Graton was in his motor vehicle with the engine running and parked on the street. Police allegedly smelled alcohol on Graton’s breath. Graton failed field sobriety tests and was arrested for driving under the influence. He refused to take a chemical alcohol test. A hearing officer concluded the police had probable cause to arrest for driving under the influence. The Department of Motor Vehicles suspended Graton’s driver’s license for six months. Graton appealed. Graton did not provide legal authority for his claim that, because Graton represented himself, pro se, the hearing officer was required to ask whether Graton objected to the admission of Form A-44. Graton also claimed the hearing officer failed to consider evidence that he was fatigued, because he worked 12 hours per day, and that he suffered from medical conditions that affected his appearance and ability to pass a field sobriety test. Because Graton did not move to admit evidence, the hearing officer did not rule on admissibility. The court was not persuaded that the hearing officer abused his discretion. "Just as the Hearing Officer did not have an affirmative duty to solicit objections from the plaintiff," wrote the court, "neither did he have an affirmative duty to ask the plaintiff to offer his exhibits." The plaintiff’s right to due process did not require that the hearing officer advocate on his behalf. The hearing officer was not required to continue the hearing, solicit objections or invite the plaintiff to introduce items into evidence. Substantial evidence indicated that probable cause existed to arrest the plaintiff for driving while intoxicated, as a result of evidence the plaintiff drove into a neighbor’s yard, smelled of alcohol and failed field sobriety tests. The court affirmed the decision of the Department of Motor Vehicles.