On Wednesday, September 12, 2018, Leonard Stamm appeared in the Court of Appeals to argue the case of Owusu v. MVA. Owusu was arrested for drunk driving and taken to the police station. At the police station he was read the DR-15 Advice of Rights Form. This is a form police officers are required to read to DUI suspects advising them of the penalties for refusing or failing a breath test for alcohol. In Owusu’s case he was read the form and told that if he failed the test he would lose his driver’s license for 180 days, but that if he refused he would lose his license for 270 days. Additionally he was told that since he had a commercial driver’s license or CDL, that if he refused the test his CDL would be disqualified for one year. The one year disqualification meant that he not be able to perform his job as a bus driver for one year.
Immediately after reading the form, that contained a lot of other information as well, to Owusu, the officer tried to be helpful. He told Owusu that since he was a bus driver he would be out of work for 180 days if he failed the test and 270 days if he refused. Although probably well meaning, the officer’s statement was false. Critically, the officer did not tell Owusu he would be out of work for one year if he refused as a result of the one year disqualification of his CDL. The one year disqualification was huge because it means Owusu will have to retake the CDL knowledge and skill tests with it, but not with a 270 day suspension. Owusu testified at the hearing that after the officer advised him, he was not aware he would lose his CDL, and that, if he had he would have submitted to the test.
As Stamm had argued in the MVA hearing and again in the Montgomery County Circuit Court without success that the giving of the false advice failed to comply with the relevant law requiring the arresting officer to “fully advise” the driver of the administrative penalties and also violated Owusu’s due process rights. Stamm also unsuccessfully argued in the hearing and appellate court that the DR-15’s form’s advice of a 270 day suspension on a refusal, and eligibility for a restricted license, without telling drivers that the required period of interlock restriction is longer, one year, violated his statutory and due process rights.
The argument in the Court of Appeals can be viewed here. The Court should issue an opinion before the end of the year.