CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The state Supreme Court said Tuesday that Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom erred when he agreed to give driver's licenses back to two men who lost them after alcohol-related arrests.
The men had successfully appealed their driver's license revocations because they said police made several errors before and after their arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol. The men appealed the revocations to the state Department of Transportation's Office of Administrative Hearings.
Hearing examiners agreed that the men should not have lost their licenses, and Bloom agreed.
In Tuesday's ruling, Supreme Court justices said the hearing examiners were "clearly wrong" and that the men's driver's licenses should be revoked.
In the first case, Sophia police officer Nicholas Manning pulled over a car driven by James A. Odum on Robert C. Byrd Drive in Beckley on Sept. 15, 2010. Manning said he pulled over Odum's vehicle after Odum ran a red light, nearly striking Manning's cruiser. Manning called Beckley police for backup because he was not within Sophia city limits.
Odum failed several field sobriety tests and his blood alcohol content tested at .168 percent, more than twice the legal limit of .08. The state Division of Motor Vehicles revoked Odum's driver's license, but Odum argued that Manning did not have jurisdiction to stop him outside Sophia city limits, The hearing examiner agreed, and found that Manning's written description of the incident differed from his testimony.
The Supreme Court said Tuesday that the Sophia police officer had "the same authority to arrest as does a private citizen" and was justified in arresting Odum outside Sophia city limits. Justices also said that the officer's description of Odum "straddling the center line" was accurate.
In the second case, Charles Town police officer Benjamin Anderson called State Police Trooper Martin Glende in regards to an alleged DUI driver pulled over on W.Va. 51 in Charles Town on Nov. 5, 2010.