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City of Seattle v. Ramirez

April 14, 1997

CITY OF SEATTLE, RESPONDENT,
v.
EDMUND DELAROSA RAMIREZ, APPELLANT.



Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 94-1-08152-3. Date filed: 10/04/95. Judge signing: Hon. Ricardo Martinez.

Authored by Walter E. Webster. Concurring: Mary K. Becker, Visiting Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Webster

WEBSTER, J. -- The superior court reversed Edmundo Ramirez's municipal court conviction for driving with a suspended license in the third degree on the grounds that the City of Seattle did not prove that Ramirez had a driver's license to suspend. Because there was sufficient evidence for a rational trier of fact to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Ramirez had a license, we reverse the superior court, reinstating the municipal court's conviction.

FACTS

Ramirez was charged with violating Seattle Municipal Code 11.56.320(D), driving while license suspended in the third degree.

At trial, Officer Teeter testified that he pulled the defendant over because he suspected that his vehicle registration was expired. When

Teeter asked to see Ramirez's driver's license, Ramirez presented a

Washington State identification card. The City admitted two documents: a letter of certification and an order of suspension. Both documents contain a "license number" for Ramirez. The order of suspension notified Ramirez that his driving privilege was suspended for thirty days for reckless driving and that he could not drive until he took steps to reinstate his privilege. This suspension was in effect at the time Teeter saw Ramirez driving.

The municipal court Judge found Ramirez guilty. Ramirez appealed to the superior court. There, Judge Martinez reversed the conviction on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence of the crime because the record established that "although the defendant's license status was suspended, he did not have a license or privilege to be suspended." A commissioner of this court granted the City's motion for discretionary review.

Discussion

The City argues both that there was sufficient evidence that Ramirez had a driver's license and that having a license is not an element of the crime. Our decision is based on the first argument. Thus, we do not reach a Conclusion as to whether a license is required under the ordinance.

In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, we examine whether any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution. See State v. Kleist, 126 Wash. 2d 432, 435, 895 P.2d 398 (1995).

The letter of certification states that it pertains to Ramirez's "driving record." Both the letter of certification and the order of suspension provide a license number for Ramirez. The suspension order states that his privilege to drive was suspended. Considering this evidence in the light most favorable to the City, a rational factfinder could conclude that Ramirez had a license. *fn1

Ramirez contends that he could not have had a license because he had an identification card. The letter of certification shows that Ramirez was issued an identification card in December 1992. Ramirez contends that the Department of Licensing cannot issue identification cards to licensed drivers. But the statute he cites for this proposition did not limit the issuance of identification cards to nondrivers until 1993, one year after Ramirez's card was issued. See RCW 46.20.117(1). And the prior administrative rule restricting the issuance of identification cards to nondrivers was repealed in 1991, one year before his card was issued. See WAC 308-104-045 (repealed 1991). Because the Department of Licensing was not prohibited by statute or rule from issuing an identification card to a ...


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