IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA
WILLIAM DOUGLAS COUTRE,
vs.††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Appeal No. 99-2467-CI-88A
STATE OF FLORIDA, DEPARTMENT
OF HIGHWAY SAFETY & MOTOR VEHICLES,
††††††††††† This cause came before the Court on the Petition For Writ Of Certiorari, the Response and the Reply.† Upon consideration of the same, the Court finds that the Petitioner has raised one issue in his Petition.
††††††††††† 1.† The issue raised in the Petition For Writ Of Certiorari is whether there is competent substantial evidence to support the finding of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Division of Driver Licenses (ďDepartmentĒ), that the arresting officer had probable cause to believe the Petitioner was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcoholic beverages or controlled substances.
††††††††††† 2.† After a review of the Departmentís Order, entered March 5, 1999, and the record, including the audio tape of the formal review hearing, the Court finds the Departmentís Order conforms to the essential requirements of law and is supported by competent substantial evidence.† Further, the Court finds that the Departmentís Hearing Officer, who conducted the review hearing on the Petitionerís driverís license suspension, satisfied all procedural due process requirements.† Haines City Community Development v. Heggs, 658 So.2d 523, 530 (Fla. 1995).
††††††††††† 3.† During the formal review hearing the Petitioner, for the first time, asserted that he was not actually driving his car when Officer Resler, of the Clearwater Police Department, conducted the traffic stop.† After stopping the Petitionerís vehicle, the Petitioner exited the driverís side.† At no time during the traffic stop investigation or the subsequent DUI investigation, conducted by Officer White, also of the Clearwater Police Department, did Petitioner assert that he was not the driver of his car.†
††††††††††† 4.† From the facts and circumstances of this case, a reasonable person would conclude that the Petitioner was driving the vehicle and there was probable cause sufficient to justify the Petitionerís arrest.† Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles v. Favino, 667 So.2d 305, 309 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995).† Further, the Petitioner was unable to explain to the Hearing Officer why he did not tell either Officer Resler or Officer White that he was not driving his car.† The Hearing Officer considered the Petitionerís testimony, but did not find it credible.
††††††††††† 5.† The Hearing Officer considered the evidence presented, evaluated the credibility of the witnesses and reached ultimate findings of fact based on competent substantial evidence.† The Hearing Officer concluded that the arresting law enforcement officer did have probable cause to believe that the Petitioner was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle in this state while under the influence of alcoholic beverages or controlled substances.† The record supports this conclusion.† Therefore, this Court will not substitute its judgment for that of the Hearing Officer or reweigh the evidence.† Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles v. Satter, 643 So.2d 692 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994); Favino, 667 So.2d at 309.
††††††††††† It is therefore,
††††††††††† ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Petition For Writ Of Certiorari is DENIED.
††††††††††† DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers, at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida this 21st day of July 2000.
CHARLES W. COPE
Circuit Judge, Appellate Division
Copies Furnished To:
Donald P. Simon, Esquire
5801 Ulmerton Road, Suite 100
Clearwater, FL† 33760
Attorney for Petitioner
Rafael A. Centurion, Esquire
Assistant General Counsel
Florida Dept. of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles
2515 W. Flagler Street
Miami, FL† 33135
Attorney for Respondent
Bureau of Driver Improvement
2814 East Hillsborough Avenue
Tampa, FL† 33610
Staff Attorney, Appellate Division