Court of Appeals of Texas, Sixth District, Texarkana
Submitted: June 24, 2019
Appeal from the County Court at Law No. 2 Williamson County,
Texas Trial Court No. 18-1180-CC2
Morriss, C.J., Burgess and Stevens, JJ.
R. Morriss, III Chief Justice
Round Rock police officer Bryce Branzell stopped Alan L.
Rabideau for speeding in Williamson County and initially
decided that he was going to let Rabideau off with a warning,
Branzell reportedly smelled alcohol on Rabideau's breath
and noticed Rabideau's eyes were bloodshot. Branzell
investigated further and ultimately arrested Rabideau for
driving while intoxicated (DWI). Rabideau refused
Branzell's request to provide a breath or blood specimen.
As a result, the Texas Department of Public Safety (the
Department) suspended Rabideau's driver's
license. In Rabideau's requested hearing on the
suspension, an administrative law judge (ALJ) determined that
Rabideau's driver's license was subject to suspension
for 180 days. Next, Rabideau appealed to the County
Court at Law No. 2 of Williamson County (the CCL), which
reversed the ALJ's decision. Now, the Department appeals
to this Court, challenging the CCL's reversal of the
ALJ's decision and asserting that there was substantial
evidence supporting the ALJ's decision. We reverse the
CCL's judgment and render judgment reinstating the
ALJ's decision, because (1) substantial evidence
supported the trial court's finding of reasonable
suspicion and (2) Rabideau did not preserve a complaint that
there was an unreasonable delay in the DWI investigation.
Those reasons lead us to the ultimate conclusion that there
was no constitutional violation arguable on appeal that
prejudiced Rabideau's substantial rights.
administrative hearing, admitted without objection were a
copy of Branzell's offense report and a statutory warning
signed by Rabideau in which he acknowledged that, after his
arrest, he refused Branzell's request for a breath and
blood specimen. Branzell and Officer Michael Childress also
evidence showed that, around 10:00 p.m. on December 19, 2017,
Branzell observed a motorcycle traveling at a high rate of
speed on North Mays Street in Round Rock, and he confirmed
with his in-car radar that it was travelling fifty-one miles
per hour in a thirty-five-mile-per-hour zone. Branzell began
following the vehicle and observed it make an unusual, but
not illegal, right turn at a red light at the intersection of
East Palm Valley Boulevard. After pulling the vehicle over,
Branzell determined that the driver was Rabideau, who
provided him with a voided Texas driver's license and a
paper Montana driver's license. After providing
Rabideau's information to dispatch, Branzell was prepared
to give him a warning ticket and release him.
when he returned to the motorcycle and told Rabideau that he
was giving him a warning, Branzell smelled metabolized
alcohol on his breath and noticed that his eyes were
bloodshot. Although Rabideau denied consuming any
alcohol, he did not explain the smell of alcohol on his
breath. He also said that he had taken prescription pain
pills and muscle relaxers for injuries to his back and legs,
but would not disclose when he took those medications.
Branzell decided to investigate Rabideau for DWI and called
for backup, which arrived after several minutes. Branzell did
not administer any field sobriety tests until after Officer
Childress, who responded to the backup call, arrived on the
to his arrest, Branzell did not see Rabideau stagger,
stumble, or fall. However, Rabideau remained seated on his
motorcycle until he was arrested. Rabideau's speech was
not impaired and was consistent with sobriety. He also
appropriately pulled his motorcycle over in response to
Branzell's emergency lights.
review the ALJ's decision under a substantial evidence
standard. See Mireles v. Tex. Dep't of Pub.
Safety, 9 S.W.3d 128, 131 (Tex. 1999). Under the
substantial evidence standard, the ALJ's decision may not
be reversed unless the appellant's substantial rights
"have been prejudiced because the administrative
findings, inferences, conclusions or decisions are:"
(A) in violation of a constitutional or statutory provision;
(B) in excess of the agency's statutory authority;
(C) made through unlawful procedure;
(D) affected by other error of ...