Steamboat Springs The prosecutor in the driving under the influence case against Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall thinks the revocation of Wall's driver's license was appropriate and should not be stayed or reviewed by a judge in Routt County Court.
Wall is disputing the Colorado Department of Revenue's yearlong revocation of his driver's license. In his petition for review, Wall's lawyer, Ron Smith, accuses the Colorado State Patrol and Department of Revenue hearing officer Art Julian of inappropriate behavior.
But in her response to Wall's petition, special prosecutor Karen Romeo argues the troopers had probable cause to pull over Wall and arrest him.
"The evidence, abundant in nature, included (Wall's) failure to dim his headlights, the smell of alcohol, his red and glassy eyes, his slow and muted speech that was unlike his normal speech and his unsteady gait," Romeo's response reads.
Smith's petition argues that it would have been impossible for Trooper Melissa Fowler to distinguish Wall's high beams from the overhead street lights at Walton Creek Road and U.S. Highway 40 when she pulled him over the night of Oct. 27.
The State Patrol revoked Wall's license that night because he refused to submit to tests of his blood alcohol level. Wall was charged with a failure to dim his headlights, driving under the influence of alcohol and possession of a weapon while under the influence of alcohol. Wall appealed the loss of his driver's license to the Department of Revenue and was issued a temporary license, but Julian upheld the revocation in December.
In rejecting the arguments in Smith's petition, Romeo notes "the decision of the hearing officer can be overturned only if it is arbitrary and capricious, or unsupported by any evidence." In regard to the reason for pulling Wall over in the first place, Romeo writes, "the hearing officer merely found Trooper Fowler's account to be more credible based on his own common sense and experience as a driver. There is nothing improper about that."
Julian based part of his decision on State Patrol reports that Wall was unsteady on his feet when he exited his county-owned vehicle. But Smith argues any observations made after Wall exited his vehicle should not be considered because the decision to arrest Wall already had been made. A written report from Fowler supports Smith's claim. She wrote that Trooper Brett Hilling - who was called to the scene and took over the investigation - told her before asking Wall to step out of his vehicle, "we would arrest Wall based on indicators of intoxication we observed."
Smith argues that Julian's preference of the troopers' testimony over testimony submitted on behalf of Wall is "pervasive and disturbing." Written testimony submitted by 16 individuals supports Wall's position that he had, at most, only one glass of wine at the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association celebration he attended Oct. 27 before driving home.
Again, Romeo argues that Julian's determination is a defensible one.
"An arbitrary and capricious decision is one that is void of legal thought or reasoning," she writes. "The hearing officer commented at length on the credibility of (Wall's) witnesses. : Bottom line the finding that (Wall's) witnesses were not credible is a well-reasoned opinion that is neither arbitrary or capricious."
A hearing on the matter has been scheduled for 11 a.m. April 29. Wall's criminal trial has been reset to trail his petition for a judicial review of the Department of Revenue's hearing.