APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, In and For the County of Beaverhead, Cause No. DC-10-3383 Honorable Loren Tucker, Presiding Judge
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice James C. Nelson
Submitted on Briefs: June 6, 2012
Decided: November 7, 2012
Justice James C. Nelson delivered the Opinion of the Court.
¶1 Elmer Young appeals a decision of the District Court for the Fifth Judicial District, Beaverhead County, denying his motion to dismiss a felony charge of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). We affirm.
¶2 Young raises two issues on appeal which we have consolidated into the following issue: Whether the District Court erred in determining that Idaho's DUI statute is similar enough to Montana's DUI statute to allow the enhancement of a Montana DUI to a felony.
Factual and Procedural Background
¶3 On August 26, 2010, the State charged Young with DUI, Criminal Possession of Dangerous Drugs, and Criminal Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. While the two drug counts were charged as misdemeanors, the DUI count was charged as a felony because the State maintained that Young had three prior DUI convictions. Young had been convicted of DUI in Idaho in 1991 and 1997, and in Montana in 2000.
¶4 On February 4, 2011, Young filed a Motion to Dismiss Felony DUI Charge arguing that his two Idaho DUI convictions should not be counted because the Idaho DUI statute is not similar to Montana's DUI statute. Young claimed that Montana's statute requires a greater standard of culpability to be found guilty of a DUI than Idaho's statute requires. The District Court disagreed and denied Young's motion.
¶5 In its order denying Young's motion to dismiss, the District Court determined that both the Montana and Idaho DUI statutes use the term "be in actual physical control" of a vehicle, and both statutes target driving while impaired by either alcohol or drugs. The court also determined that "[w]ithout question the general purpose of each statute is to prohibit people from driving when they are unable to do so safely." Thus, the court concluded that while the statutes are not precisely identical, they are similar because they have characteristics in common and are alike in substance.
¶6 Thereafter, the State and Young entered into a plea agreement in which Young agreed to plead guilty to felony DUI, and the State agreed to dismiss the misdemeanor charges of Criminal Possession of Dangerous Drugs and Criminal Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. In addition, Young reserved the right to ...