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Drivers charged with driving under the influence lose appeals, licenses

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The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals says police can stop drunk drivers who are outside officers' jurisdiction, reversing rulings by administrative hearing examiners and circuit court rulings that restored driving privileges to two men charged in 2010.

Driver James A. Odum was charged by Beckley police with driving under the influence in September 2010 after a policeman from Sophia said he saw Odum run a red light and drive into oncoming traffic, barely missing his cruiser. 

The Sophia patrolman pulled Odum over, then contacted Beckley police for assistance. The Sophia officer later testified that he believed Sophia and Beckley had a mutual aid agreement. Odum failed field sobriety tests, with a preliminary breath test showing him with a .168 blood alcohol level. Once on station he refused to submit to secondary chemical testing or sign an implied consent form. 

Driver Chad Doyle was charged by the West Virginia State Police with DUI after a Charles Town police officer spotted him driving erratically within city limits. Doyle said he'd had only five beers, but the arresting officer said his eyes were bloodshot, he reeked of alcohol and failed field sobriety tests. Doyle consented to a secondary chemical test which pegged his BAC at 0.107 percent.

The West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles revoked both men's licenses, but the administrative hearing officer reversed the revocations. 

DMV appealed to Kanawha Circuit Court, but the court found no grounds for reversal.

The Supreme Court, however, ruled that the "evidentiary and factual findings of the hearing examiners were clearly wrong and that the evidence ... establishes that the investigatory stops of the respondents' vehicles were valid."