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DMV Supervisor Files Suit to Keep His License

June 07, 2003|David Reyes | Times Staff Writer

A supervising investigator with the state Department of Motor Vehicles who fears the loss of his job for an alleged drunk driving incident is seeking a judge's order to keep his driver's license.

Fred Alvarez III, of Brea, says he was riding in but not driving a car that was involved in an apparent single-car accident last year, according to his Orange County Superior Court lawsuit. Two California Highway Patrol officers determined Alvarez was the driver in a 2:40 a.m. crash on Jan. 12, 2002.

Alvarez admitted drinking alcohol and he had an unsatisfactory field sobriety test. In addition, his blood was found on the car's steering wheel and on his hands, according to a report filed with his lawsuit. He and a female companion, who was employed at the same DMV investigations office, said they had been drinking before the accident.

Alvarez had a blood alcohol level of between .11% and .12%, above the .08% limit. He was arrested and charged, but the Orange County district attorney's office dismissed the case.

The DMV suspended his license, but it was reissued temporarily while Alvarez appealed. At a DMV administrative hearing, Alvarez again contended he was a passenger and took exception at the CHP's finding because one of the officers was a trainee.

However, the hearing officer ruled against him. Alvarez faces the loss of his driving privilege for one year.

A witness said he saw Alvarez driving the car and followed it from the accident scene to where the couple later pulled over and parked, according to findings filed with the lawsuit.

The testimony of the woman with Alvarez was found not credible by the hearing officer because she could not recall details of the crash.

Alvarez's testimony was also deemed not credible because he demonstrated bias and initially told the CHP he could not recall what happened.

Superior Court Judge David R. Chaffee has scheduled a hearing on Alvarez's suit for July 8.

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