April 25, 2017

Archives for September 23, 2016

Colorado Court of Appeals: Breath Test Must Occur Within Two Hours of Driving for Revocation Proceedings

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Edwards v. Colorado Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Division on Thursday, September 22, 2016.

Robin Edwards was pulled over for speeding at 8:51 a.m. on September 7, 2014. The officer who pulled her over observed that Edwards had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, and requested that she perform roadside sobriety maneuvers. Her stumbling and lack of balance indicated she was intoxicated, so the officer informed Edwards of Colorado’s express consent law and asked if she would complete a blood or breath test. She agreed to a breath test and was transported to the local police department.

Due to problems during the testing sequence, Edwards’ breath tests were not completed until 10:52 a.m. and 10:56 a.m. The intoxilyzer report from the two samples showed Edwards’ BAC to be .229 grams of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of breath, well above the .08 limit for revocation. The Department initiated proceedings to revoke Edwards’ driver’s license.

The arresting officer testified at the revocation hearing that Edwards’ .229 BAC result was based on breath samples taken more than two hours after the initial traffic stop. Edwards argued that her driver’s license should not be revoked because she provided valid breath samples after the two-hour time period required by the revocation statute. The hearing officer found that Edwards’ breath samples were obtained outside the two-hour window, but ruled that the test administrator performed in “substantial accordance” with the statute, and, because the testing began at 10:50 a.m., it commenced within two hours of when Edwards stopped driving. The hearing officer revoked Edwards’ driver’s license based on excessive BAC. The district court affirmed the hearing officer on different grounds, finding that based on Edwards’ excessive BAC, it was more probable than not that she had driven with an excessive BAC.

Edwards appealed, contending the hearing officer erroneously interpreted the revocation statute, and because her breath samples were obtained outside the statutory two-hour window, her results could not be used at the revocation hearing. The Colorado Court of Appeals analyzed C.R.S. § 42-2-126(2)(b), finding that the statute mandated that breath or blood results must be obtained within two hours after driving. The court found ample legislative and case law support that the two-hour window is mandatory, and that test results obtained outside the window must not be considered. Because Edwards’ test results were obtained after the two-hour window expired, they could not be considered at the revocation hearing.

The court of appeals reversed the district court with instructions to set aside the order of revocation. The court of appeals also remarked that its findings would not affect the criminal proceedings against Edwards.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Plea of Guilty Constitutes Conviction for Purposes of Revocation Proceedings

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Blackwell on Thursday, September 22, 2016.

Aaron Blackwell pleaded guilty to theft from an at-risk victim and received a deferred judgment with the condition that he could violate no federal, state, or local criminal law during the deferral period. He later pleaded guilty in an unrelated case to driving after revocation prohibited (DARP), a class 1 misdemeanor. The district court also deferred the judgment in the DARP case. The prosecution then filed a motion to revoke the deferred judgment in the theft case based on Blackwell’s guilty plea in the DARP case. The district court revoked the deferred judgment.

Blackwell appealed, contending his guilty plea in the DARP case was not sufficient to prove that he violated a state criminal law. The Colorado Court of Appeals evaluated whether a guilty plea constitutes a “conviction” for purposes of the revocation hearing statute. The court evaluated C.R.S. § 16-7-206(3), which provides that a court’s acceptance of a guilty plea acts as a conviction for the offense. The court of appeals concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion by revoking Blackwell’s deferred judgment. Blackwell argued that the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision in Kazadi v. People, 2012 CO 73, ruled that a guilty plea resulting in a deferred judgment is not a judgment of conviction, but the court of appeals disagreed, finding that the supreme court has distinguished between a “conviction” and a “judgment of conviction.”

The court of appeals affirmed the district court.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 9/22/2016

On Thursday, September 22, 2016, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and no unpublished opinion.

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, some published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.