Lancaster Plaintiff Attorney: Jonathan Handelman
of Maine, Bureau of Motor Vehicles Defendant Attorney: Donald
W. Macomber, AAG
DECISION AND ORDER
I. Billings Justice
petitioner, Kyle Lancaster, filed this appeal, pursuant to 5
M.R.S. §§ 11001 et seq. and Maine Rule of
Civil Procedure 80C, from a decision of a hearing officer for
the Bureau of Motor Vehicles that denied a petition for
review of a 275 day administrative suspension of Mr.
Lancaster's license to operate a motor vehicle pursuant
to 29-A M.R.S. §§ 2521 for refusing to submit to a
chemical test at the request of a law enforcement officer on
December 12, 2015. This court has reviewed the record and the
written submissions of the parties.
reviewing the hearing officer's decision, the Court
reviews the record of the administrative agency directly to
determine "whether the Hearing Examiner abused her
discretion, committed an error of law, or made findings not
supported by substantial evidence in the record."
Abrahamson v. Secretary of State, 584 A.2d 668, 670
(Me. 1991). Substantial evidence is defined as "such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support the resulting conclusion."
Lewiston Daily Sun v. Maine Unemployment Insurance
Comm'n., 1999 ME 90, ¶7, 733 A.2d 344, 346
(quoting Crocker v. Maine Unemployment Insurance
Comm'n., 450 A.2d 469, 471 (Me. 1982)). "A
reviewing court may not substitute its judgment for that of
the agency merely because the evidence could give rise to
more than one result." Dodd v. Secretary of
State, 526 A.2d 583, 584 (Me. 1987). The focus on appeal
is not whether the court would have reached the same
conclusion as the agency, but whether the record contains
competent and substantial evidence that supports the result
reached by the agency. See CWCO, Inc. v. Superintendent
of Ins., 1997 ME 226, ¶ 6, 703 A.2d 1258, 1261.
"Inconsistent evidence will not render an agency
decision unsupported." Seider v. Board of Exam'r
of Psychologist, 2000 ME 206, ¶ 9, 762 A.2d at 555
(citing Bischoff v. Bd. of Trustees, 661 A.2d 167,
170 (Me. 1990)). The burden of proof rests with the party
seeking to overturn the agency's decision, and that party
must prove that no competent evidence supports the
agency's decision. See Id.
hearing officer's determination that the officer had
probable cause to believe that Mr. Lancaster had operated a
motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants is
supported by substantial evidence. "The probable cause
standard for requiring a person to take a blood-alcohol test
has a very low threshold." State v. Webster,
2000 ME 115, ¶ 7, 754 A.2d 976, 977-78. A person is
guilty of operating under the influence if his or her senses
are "impaired however slightly" or "to any
extent" by the alcohol that person has had to drink.
See State v. Worster, 611 A.2d979, 981 (Me. 1992).
record in this case shows:
• Mr. Lancaster's vehicle was on its side in a
ditch, but he said he had not been speeding and had no
difficulty seeing the road despite the fog;
• Mr. Lancaster repeatedly stated that he had not been
injured in the accident, refused medical attention, and the
deputy did not observe any signs of injury;
• The deputy and the trooper could smell the odor of
intoxicating liquor on Mr. Lancaster;
• The deputy noticed that Mr. Lancaster had slurred
speech and glassy eyes;
• The deputy noticed that Mr. Lancaster had a hard time
focusing on what was being said;
• The deputy had to repeatedly tell Mr. Lancaster to
keep his hands out of his pockets, to put his arms down from
over his head, and to get out of the middle of the road;
• The deputy detected two clues during the HGN test,
which could not be completed because Mr. Lancaster did ...