Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
Site Map | Feedback
2004-UP-391 - McDaniel v. SC Department of Motor Vehicles
THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE.  IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 239(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals


William Robert McDaniel,        Respondent,

v.

South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles,        Appellant.


Appeal From Charleston County
Thomas L. Hughston, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2004-UP-391
Submitted April 21, 2004 – Filed June 21, 2004


REVERSED


Senior Assistant General Counsel Patrick M. Teague, General Counsel Frank L. Valenta; South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Timothy Clay Kulp, of North Charleston, for Respondent.


PER CURIAM:  We reverse the trial court’s ruling reversing the administrative decision and ordering the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to restore McDaniel’s driver’s license.

FACTS

William McDaniel was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.  After he was arrested, McDaniel was transported to the police station where he was offered a DataMaster breath test. McDaniel refused to submit to the breath test. As a result of refusing to take the breath test, McDaniel’s driver’s license was suspended for a period of 90 days pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-2950.

McDaniel requested an administrative hearing through the DMV. After hearing the matter, the hearing officer sustained the action taken by the DMV. McDaniel appealed the administrative decision to the circuit court, which reversed the administrative hearing officer’s decision finding that evidence presented at the hearing did not establish that McDaniel was advised in writing of his rights enumerated in section 56-5-2950. The DMV appeals the circuit court’s ruling.

ISSUE

Did the trial court err by substituting its judgment for that of the administrative agency on a question of fact when substantial evidence existed to support the administrative decision?

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The findings of an administrative agency are presumed correct and will be set aside only if unsupported by substantial evidence. Kearse v. State Health & Human Servs. Fin. Comm'n, 318 S.C. 198, 199, 456 S.E.2d 892, 893 (1995).  Substantial evidence is defined as “such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”  Lark v. Bi-Lo, Inc., 276 S.C. 130, 135, 276 S.E.2d 304, 307 (1981).  A court may not substitute its judgment for that of an agency as to the weight of the evidence on questions of fact unless the agency's findings are clearly erroneous in view of the reliable, probative and substantial evidence on the whole record. Rodney v. Michelin Tire Corp., 320 S.C. 515, 519, 466 S.E.2d 357, 359 (1996).

LAW/ANALYSIS

The DMV asserts the trial court exceeded its scope of review when the trial court substituted its judgment regarding a question of fact when there was substantial evidence in the record to support administrative agency’s findings.  We agree. 

Section 56-5-2950(a)(1) sets forth the procedures regarding implied consent to testing for drugs or alcohol.  The statute mandates, in pertinent part, that:

No tests may be administered or samples obtained unless the person has been informed in writing that:

1)    he does not have to take the test or give the samples, but that his privilege to drive must be suspended or denied for at least ninety days if he refuses to submit to the tests and that his refusal may be used against him in court;

2)    his privilege to drive must be suspended for at least thirty days if he takes the tests or gives the samples and has an alcohol concentration of fifteen one-hundredths of one percent or more;

3)    he has the right to have a qualified person of his own choosing conduct additional independent tests at his expense;

4)    he has the right to request an administrative hearing within thirty days of the issuance of the notice of suspension; and

5)    if he does not request an administrative hearing or if his suspension is upheld at the administrative hearing, he must enroll in an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program.

S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-2950(a) (Supp. 2003).

In reviewing Officer Usry’s testimony, we believe there was substantial evidence to support the administrative officer’s ruling.  Officer Usry testified that she read the Implied Consent Rights form to McDaniel and issued a copy of the rights to McDaniel prior to attempting to administer the DataMaster test. Accordingly, McDaniel was advised, in writing of his rights as they are enumerated in section 56-5-2950.  It is not required that the administrative officer enumerate that each portion of the statute has been satisfied, only that substantial evidence exist to support his decision.  Therefore, the trial court erred in reversing the administrative officer’s decision.

CONCLUSION

For the forgoing reasons, the decision of the circuit court is

REVERSED.

GOOLSBY, BEATTY, and KITTREDGE, JJ., concur.