Nathan A. Jarvis, Appellee,
Kansas Department of Revenue, Appellant.
appellate court generally reviews a district court's
decision in a driver's license suspension case to
determine whether it is supported by substantial competent
evidence. Substantial competent evidence is evidence that has
both relevance and substance, and provides a substantial
basis of fact from which the issues can be reasonably
reviewing a district court's factual findings, appellate
courts do not reweigh evidence, resolve evidentiary
conflicts, or make witness credibility determinations.
Based on the record herein, there is substantial competent
evidence to support the district court's finding that the
officer lacked reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic
stop that resulted in an administrative driver's license
Interpretation of a statute is a question of law over which
appellate courts have unlimited review.
most fundamental rule of statutory construction is that the
intent of the Legislature governs if that intent can be
ascertained. An appellate court must first attempt to
ascertain legislative intent through the statutory language
enacted, giving common words their ordinary meanings.
a statute is plain and unambiguous, an appellate court should
not speculate about the legislative intent behind that clear
language, and it should refrain from reading something into
the statute that is not readily found in its words. Where
there is no ambiguity, the court need not resort to statutory
construction. Only if the statute's language or text is
unclear or ambiguous does the court use canons of
construction or legislative history to construe legislative
Under K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 8-1020(p), on judicial review of the
administrative suspension of a person's driver's
license, the district court can consider and determine
constitutional issues, such as the lawfulness of the law
enforcement encounter, and the court's resolution of such
an issue will affect its ultimate decision whether to uphold
the driver's license suspension.
Based on legislative intent expressed through statute, the
district court can consider and determine constitutional
issues in a driver's license suspension case in order to
decide whether the agency action should be upheld, and the
judicially created exclusionary rule plays no part in the
district court's decision.
from Johnson District Court; James F. Vano, judge.
Labastida, of Legal Services Bureau, Kansas Department of
Revenue, for appellant.
Foye, of Wyrsch Hobbs & Mirakian P.C., of Kansas City,
Missouri, for appellee
ARNOLD-BURGER, C.J., PIERRON and MALONE, JJ.
Kansas Department of Revenue (KDR) suspended Nathan A.
Jarvis' driver's license after he refused to submit
to a breath test. On judicial review, the district court
found that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to stop
Jarvis' car. Based on this finding, the district court
ruled that K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 8-1020(p) "justifies
reversal of the administrative suspension of [Jarvis']
driving privileges." On appeal the KDR first claims the
district court erred by finding that the officer lacked
reasonable suspicion to stop Jarvis' car. Second, the KDR
claims that even if the car stop was unlawful, the district
court erred by applying the exclusionary rule to suppress the
evidence in this administrative driver's license
on our review of the record, there was sufficient evidence to
support the district court's finding that the officer
lacked reasonable suspicion to stop Jarvis' car. And we
agree with the district court that on judicial review of the
administrative suspension of a person's driver's
license, K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 8-1020(p) now authorizes the
district court to "consider and determine any
constitutional issue, including, but not limited to, the
lawfulness of the law enforcement encounter." Based on
the district court's finding that the officer unlawfully
stopped Jarvis' car, we affirm the district court's
decision to set aside the administrative suspension of
Jarvis' driving privileges.
and Procedural Background
February 6, 2017, Officer Matthew Hirsch of the Merriam
Police Department arrested Jarvis for driving under the
influence (DUI). Hirsch read the implied consent advisories
to Jarvis and he refused to submit to a breath test,
resulting in the KDR's administrative suspension of
Jarvis' driving privileges. Jarvis requested an
administrative hearing and the hearing officer upheld the
suspension. Jarvis filed a petition for judicial review,
arguing in part that Hirsch had "no lawful grounds to
stop [Jarvis'] vehicle" and also that Hirsch had
"no reasonable grounds to believe [Jarvis] was operating
a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs."
district court held a trial de novo and Hirsch was the only
witness to testify. Hirsch told the court that he stopped
Jarvis around 1:45 a.m. after he saw him swerving in his lane
and crossing the center line of the road. Hirsch explained
the road Jarvis was on had no painted center line, but if it
had been there, Jarvis would have crossed it. He said he also
saw Jarvis almost hit a mailbox, although he did not include
this fact in his report. Hirsch testified that he pulled
Jarvis over, intending to give him a warning for swerving and
crossing the center line. But as Hirsch spoke with Jarvis, he
saw that his eyes were bloodshot, and he smelled alcohol on
his breath. Jarvis admitted he had drunk one beer.
asked Jarvis to exit his vehicle and he conducted several
field sobriety tests. Jarvis successfully performed the
"finger-to-nose" and "alphabet" tests.
But according to Hirsch, Jarvis failed the walk-and-turn test
and showed clues of impairment on the one-leg-stand test.
Jarvis refused a preliminary breath test. Hirsch arrested
Jarvis for DUI and took him to the Merriam Police Department.
There, Hirsch asked Jarvis to submit to an evidentiary breath
test, but Jarvis refused. Jarvis later asked about the
possibility of taking a blood test, but Hirsch did not
video recording from Hirsch's patrol car was played at
the hearing and introduced as an exhibit. Hirsch testified
that he manually started the video, and he would have done so
after seeing a traffic infraction. After watching the video
in court, Hirsch said he saw two lane violations, but he
could not specify when they had occurred in the video. After
hearing the evidence, the district court took the matter
under advisement and asked the parties to submit posttrial
February 9, 2018, the district court filed a 13-page
memorandum decision reversing Jarvis' driver's
license suspension. The district court began by addressing
whether Hirsch had reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop
and, on that issue, the district court found that
Hirsch's testimony was not credible. The district court
noted that Hirsch claimed to have seen Jarvis commit a
traffic violation on an unlaned road, but when the video
started, Jarvis was on a laned road. The district court also
noted that Hirsch testified he made a complete and accurate
report of the incident, but his report did not include his
observation of Jarvis almost hitting a mailbox. The district
court added that Hirsch was unable to pinpoint any traffic
violations on the video. The district court found that the
video did not show Jarvis' car weaving any more than
Hirsch's car. The district court concluded by finding
that Hirsch "articulated no credible reasonable
suspicion justifying the stop and initial encounter."
district court then analyzed the effect of the 2016 amendment
to K.S.A. 8-1020(p) on Jarvis' driver's license
suspension case. The district court found that "[t]he
Legislature has made it clear by the 2016 amendment that the
initial police encounter is a justiciable issue" in a
driver's license suspension case. The district court also
found that the new statutory provision would be rendered
"meaningless" if constitutional claims had no
effect on the district court's decision whether to uphold
a driver's license suspension. Based on its finding that
Hirsch had no reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic
stop, the ...