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Kristen N. Spreeman v. the State of Wyoming

June 20, 2012

KRISTEN N. SPREEMAN, APPELLANT (DEFENDANT),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, APPELLEE (PLAINTIFF).



Appeal from the District Court of Campbell County The Honorable Michael N. Deegan, Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Burke, Justice.

Before KITE, C.J., and GOLDEN, HILL, VOIGT, and BURKE, JJ.

NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in Pacific Reporter Third. Readers are requested to notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Supreme Court Building, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002, of any typographical or other formal errors so that correction may be made before final publication in the permanent volume.

[¶1] Appellant, Kristen N. Spreeman, challenges her conviction of felony driving while under the influence (DWUI) in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 31-5-233(b)(iii)(A) and (e). She claims that she did not have three prior qualifying convictions, as required by Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 31-5-233(e), to enhance her DWUI conviction to a felony. We affirm.

ISSUE

[¶2] Appellant presents the following issue:

Did the trial court err in denying Appellant's motion to dismiss the felony "DUI" charge against her, since she did not have three prior qualifying convictions?

The State phrases the issue as follows:

Under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 31-5-233(e), driving while under the influence becomes a felony if a defendant has three prior convictions in this or any other state under a law prohibiting "driving while under the influence." One of Spreeman's three previous Michigan convictions is for driving while "visibly impaired." Is Michigan's prohibition against driving while "visibly impaired" a law that prohibits driving "while under the influence," for purposes of sentencing enhancement under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 31-5-233(e)?

FACTS

[¶3] The facts in this matter are undisputed. On December 19, 2010, an officer of the Gillette Police Department stopped Appellant for a traffic violation. An assisting officer smelled a strong odor of alcohol coming from Appellant and noticed that she was slurring her words and that her face was extremely flushed. After performing field sobriety tests, Appellant was arrested for driving while under the influence. Appellant was transported to the Campbell County Detention Center, where she agreed to provide a breath sample. The breath test revealed a blood-alcohol content of .21%, over two-and-a-half times the legal limit.

[¶4] Appellant was charged by felony information with felony driving while under the influence in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 31-5-233(b)(iii)(A) and (e) (LexisNexis Supp. 2010). The information alleged that Appellant had been convicted of three prior drinking and driving offenses within the last ten years, all of which had occurred in Michigan. Two of the prior offenses were for driving while intoxicated in violation of Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.625(1). The third prior conviction was for driving while visibly impaired in violation of Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.625(3). Appellant moved to dismiss the felony DWUI, asserting that her Michigan conviction for driving while visibly impaired could not be considered for enhancement purposes because that conviction did not constitute a violation of a "law prohibiting driving while under the influence" under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 31-5-233(e).

[¶5] Following a hearing, the district court denied Appellant's motion to dismiss. In its order denying the motion to dismiss, the court stated that A comparison of Wyoming's Driving While Under the Influence statute and Michigan's Operating While Impaired statute demonstrate both seek to prevent operation of a motor vehicle when alcohol consumption (i.e. consumption of intoxicating liquors) affects a person's ability to operate a vehicle (i.e. results in the deprivation of a person's normal control of his bodily or mental faculties).

Appellant entered a conditional guilty plea to the charged felony DWUI, reserving the right to challenge the denial of her motion to dismiss. She was sentenced to twelve to ...


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