Appeal from the County Court at Law No. 3 Galveston County,
Texas Trial Court Case No. CV-80718
consists of Justices Lloyd, Landau, and Countiss.
the Texas Department of Public Safety ("DPS"),
challenges the trial court's judgment affirming an
administrative order denying DPS's petition to suspend
the driver's license of appellee, Claudia Renee Taunton.
In its sole issue, DPS contends that the trial court erred in
affirming the administrative order denying its petition to
suspend Taunton's driver's license.
5, 2017, Taunton was arrested for driving while intoxicated.
DPS suspended Taunton's driver's license and served
her with a Notice of Suspension.Taunton requested an
administrative hearing to contest the suspension of her
hearing, Texas Highway Patrol Trooper R. Woodard testified
that while driving behind Taunton on FM-517 in Galveston
County, Texas on May 5, 2017, he saw her drive her car
"over onto the shoulder several times." Woodard
further testified that there was other traffic on the road at
the time and, in his opinion, Taunton's driving her car
onto the shoulder on multiple occasions created an unsafe
condition on the road. Woodard testified that he could not
recall the exact number of times that Taunton drove her car
onto the improved shoulder "without reviewing" his
video recording of the event, but he recalled that "she
didn't just touch the line; she actually drove onto the
shoulder" with her car. He further testified that she
did not drive her car into oncoming traffic and there were no
other cars stopped on the shoulder at the time.
result of the manner of Taunton's driving, Woodard
initiated a traffic stop. He noticed that Taunton's eyes
were red and glassy. She admitted to "drinking one mixed
alcohol drink in Galveston." Woodard performed multiple
field-sobriety tests on Taunton, which she failed. She then
consented to give two voluntary breath specimens, which both
provided results of blood alcohol content above the legal
considering the evidence and argument of counsel, the
administrative law judge ("ALJ") made findings of
fact that Taunton was "stopped for driving [her car]
partially onto the improved shoulder of the roadway on
several occasions," "there is insufficient evidence
to establish that [Taunton's] driving was unsafe or posed
a risk to other motorists," there "was insufficient
evidence to establish reasonable suspicion to stop or
contact" Taunton. As such, the ALJ concluded that
"the evidence presented . . . was insufficient to
establish all the issues/elements set out in Tex. Transp.
Code Ann. § 524.035 or 724.042 by a preponderance of the
evidence." DPS appealed the ALJ's
reviewing the administrative record and hearing the arguments
of counsel, the trial court found that there was
"insufficient evidence was established to prove that
[Taunton's] driving was unsafe or posed a risk to other
motorists." Accordingly, the trial court rendered
judgment affirming the administrative order.
review of administrative license-suspension decisions is
governed by a "substantial evidence standard."
Mireles v. Tex. Dep't of Pub. Safety, 9 S.W.3d
128, 131 (Tex. 1999). When reviewing an
administrative decision under the substantial evidence rule,
the reviewing court "may affirm the [administrative]
decision in whole or in part." Tex. Gov't Code Ann.
§ 2001.174(1). However, it must reverse or remand the
case if the challenger'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 an
unlawful procedure, (D) affected by other error of law, (E)
not reasonably supported by substantial evidence when
considering the reliable and probative evidence in the record
as a whole, or (F) arbitrary or capricious or characterized
by abuse of discretion or clearly unwarranted exercise of
discretion. See id. § 2001.174(2); see also
Tex. Dep 't of Pub. Safety v. Guajardo, 970 S.W.2d
602, 604-05 (Tex. App.- Houston [14th Dist] 1998, no pet.).
substantial evidence supports an administrative order is a
question of law. Tex. Dep't of Pub. Safety v.
Alford,209 S.W.3d 101, 103 (Tex. 2006). The dispositive
issue for the reviewing court is not whether the
administrative order was correct, but "whether the
record demonstrates some reasonable basis for the
[administrative] action." Mireles, 9 S.W.3d at
131. We must presume that the agency's decision is
supported by substantial evidence. Tex. Dep't of Pub.
Safety v. Walter,979 S.W.2d 22, 27 (Tex. App.-Houston
[14th Dist] 1998, no pet.). Furthermore, the reviewing court
must affirm the administrative decision if more than a
scintilla of evidence supports it and may affirm "even
if the evidence preponderates against it." Mireles,