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Garibay v. State, Department of Administration

Supreme Court of Alaska

November 28, 2014

JOE D. GARIBAY, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF ALASKA, DEPARTMENT OF ADMINISTRATION, DIVISION OF MOTOR VEHICLES, Appellee

Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Fourth Judicial District, Fairbanks, Paul R. Lyle, Judge. Superior Court No. 4FA-11-01772 CI.

Robert A. Sparks, Law Office of Robert A. Sparks, and Robert John, Fairbanks, for Appellant.

Erling T. Johansen, Assistant Attorney General, Anchorage, and Michael C. Geraghty, Attorney General, Juneau, for Appellee.

Before: Fabe, Chief Justice, Winfree, Stowers, Maassen, and Bolger, Justices.

OPINION

Page 447

MAASSEN, Justice.

I. INTRODUCTION

After a woman reported having an altercation with Joe Garibay in a store, the police stopped him, then arrested him for driving under the influence of alcohol. The Department of Motor Vehicles revoked Garibay's driver's license for 90 days, and the superior court affirmed the revocation. Garibay appeals, arguing that the police stop constituted an unconstitutional search and seizure requiring that evidence of his drinking be excluded from the license revocation proceedings. We affirm on the basis of our prior cases, which hold that the exclusionary rule applies in license revocation proceedings only in exceptional circumstances not present here.

II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

Joe Garibay was at the Sam's Club in Fairbanks when he collided with a woman's shopping cart, waking her baby.[1] The woman demanded an apology, but Garibay swore at her instead. Assuming he was drunk because of the beer in his cart and his threatening manner, the woman called the police, then followed Garibay out to the parking lot to get his license plate number. When a police officer arrived a few minutes later, the woman told him that Garibay was " maybe . . . a drunk," that he had threatened her in front of her children, and that she wanted him charged with assault. Informed that an assault charge was unlikely, the woman asked that the police at least " find that guy to make sure he's not drunk." The officer assured her that they would try to find Garibay and " make sure he's not, you know, drunk driving, something like that."

The police located Garibay's empty vehicle shortly afterward in a nearby parking lot. Officer Fett parked behind it and activated his emergency lights. When Garibay returned, he attempted to back out of the parking space despite the police car behind him; he apparently did not notice he was blocked in until Officer Fett knocked on his window. Another officer arrived, and both officers spoke with Garibay. Although he told them he had not consumed any alcohol that day, the officers observed that he swayed, had bloodshot and watery eyes, and

Page 448

smelled strongly of alcohol. He failed three field sobriety tests and blew .128 on the preliminary breath test. The officers arrested him for driving under the influence of alcohol and for possessing firearms while in an impaired state.[2] They then tested him again using the Datamaster breath testing machine, which showed a breath alcohol content of .111. As a result, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) revoked Garibay's license for 90 days.

Garibay appealed the license revocation, and the DMV held an administrative hearing. Garibay was represented by counsel, who cross-examined both police officers involved in the arrest. It was Garibay's position that the officers' conduct in approaching his vehicle constituted an illegal investigative stop. But the hearing officer, citing prior decisions of this court,[3] instructed Garibay's attorney not to inquire about the stop's legality. The hearing officer concluded that the legality of the stop was not relevant in a license revocation proceeding, that there was probable cause to believe Garibay was operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, and that the Datamaster breath test demonstrated that Garibay's breath ...


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