Deutschendorf v. People

Decision Date01 July 1996
Docket NumberNos. 95SC531,95SC520,s. 95SC531
Citation920 P.2d 53
PartiesHenry John DEUTSCHENDORF, a/k/a John Denver, Petitioner, v. The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Respondent, and The State of Colorado ex rel. Gale A. Norton, Intervenor. Ronald W. LEEVER, Petitioner, v. The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Respondent, and The State of Colorado ex rel. Gale A. Norton, Intervenor.
CourtColorado Supreme Court

Jean E. Dubofsky, P.C., Jean E. Dubofsky, Kelly P. Marinelli, Boulder, for Petitioner in No. 95SC520.

Alexander M. Hunter, District Attorney, Twentieth Judicial District, William F. Nagel, D.D. Mallard, Deputy District Attorneys, Boulder, for Respondent in No. 95SC520.

Gerash, Robinson & Miranda, P.C., Walter L. Gerash, Todd J. Thompson, Denver, for Petitioner in No. 95SC531.

Milton K. Blakey, District Attorney, Ninth Judicial District, H. Lawson Wills, Deputy District Attorney, Aspen, for Respondent in No. 95SC531.

Gale A. Norton, Attorney General, Stephen K. ErkenBrack, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Timothy M. Tymkovich, Solicitor General, Paul Farley, Deputy Attorney General, Larry A. Williams, First Assistant Attorney General, Lauren A. Edelstein, Assistant Attorney General, State Services Section, Denver, for Intervenor.

Colorado District Attorneys Council, Raymond T. Slaughter, Executive Director, Denver, for Amicus Curiae Colorado District Attorneys Council.

Chief Justice VOLLACK delivered the Opinion of the Court.

We granted certiorari to review the decision of the Pitkin County District Court in Deutschendorf v. People, No. 95CR23 (Colo.Dist.Ct. July 19, 1995), and the decision of the Boulder County District Court in People v. Leever, No. 95CR116 (Colo.Dist.Ct. July 11, 1995). Both district courts held that the initiation of separate criminal proceedings after the resolution of an administrative license revocation hearing did not violate the protections provided by the double jeopardy clauses of the United States and Colorado constitutions. We affirm both decisions.

I. Deutschendorf

On August 21, 1994, Henry John Deutschendorf (Deutschendorf) was involved in an automobile accident in Pitkin County, Colorado. After the accident, Deutschendorf submitted to a chemical test to determine his blood alcohol level. The test results indicated that Deutschendorf's blood alcohol level was .128 percent, in excess of the legal limit of .10 percent. Consequently, the Pitkin County District Attorney's office charged Deutschendorf with driving under the influence (DUI) pursuant to section 42-4-1202(1)(a), 17 C.R.S. (1993), driving with excessive alcohol content (DUI per se) pursuant to section 42-4-1202(1.5), 17 C.R.S. (1993), and careless driving pursuant to section 42-4-1204(2) (1993).

Additionally, the state trooper who administered the test to Deutschendorf filed an affidavit and notice of revocation with the Colorado Department of Revenue. Consequently, pursuant to section 42-2-122.1, 17 C.R.S. (1993), the Department of Revenue notified Deutschendorf that it was suspending his license. Deutschendorf then requested a hearing before the Department of Revenue, which was held on November 29, 1994. After the hearing, the hearing officer held that the Department of Revenue would not suspend Deutschendorf's license because the hearing officer was unable to conclude from the evidence presented that the trooper administered the blood test to Deutschendorf within two hours since Deutschendorf last operated his vehicle as required by section 42-2-122.1.

Deutschendorf subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the criminal charges against him in the Pitkin County Court, alleging that subjecting him to a criminal prosecution for DUI and DUI per se, in light of the previous administrative revocation hearing, constituted a violation of the double jeopardy clauses of the United States and Colorado constitutions (the "Double Jeopardy Clause"). 1 On March 7, 1995, the county court granted Deutschendorf's motion and dismissed the criminal charges against him.

The respondent, the People of the State of Colorado, appealed the judgment of the county court to the Pitkin County District Court. On July 19, 1995, the district court reversed the county court's order of dismissal and remanded the case to the county court for further proceedings. Deutschendorf then petitioned this court for certiorari. We granted certiorari and consolidated Deutschendorf with People v. Leever, No. 95SC520.

Leever

On May 19, 1994, Officer James Byfield of the Boulder Police Department stopped petitioner Ronald Leever (Leever) in his vehicle for failure to signal prior to making a turn. During the course of the stop, Officer Byfield conducted a field sobriety test on Leever, and determined that Leever was under the influence of alcohol. Officer Byfield consequently arrested Leever. Leever then submitted to a blood alcohol test, the results of which indicated that Leever's blood alcohol content was .18 percent. The Boulder County District Attorney's office charged Leever with DUI, DUI per se, and failure to use a turn signal pursuant to section 42-4-803, 17 C.R.S. (1993).

Additionally, the state trooper who administered the blood alcohol test to Leever filed an affidavit and notice of revocation with the Colorado Department of Revenue. Consequently, pursuant to section 42-2-122.1, 17 C.R.S. (1993), the Department of Revenue notified Leever that it was suspending his license. Leever then requested a hearing before the Department of Revenue, which was held on July 8, 1994. After the hearing, the Department of Revenue rescinded the order of revocation, holding that Officer Byfield had no reasonable suspicion to effect the initial stop of Leever's vehicle.

On November 10, 1994, Leever proceeded to trial before the court on the criminal charges against him. The court found Leever guilty of DUI, DUI per se, and failure to signal. Leever appealed this conviction to the Boulder County District Court, alleging that by subjecting him to a criminal prosecution after subjecting him to an administrative revocation hearing, the State violated the Double Jeopardy Clause. On July 11, 1995, the district court affirmed Leever's convictions.

Leever subsequently petitioned this court for certiorari. We granted certiorari and consolidated Leever with People v. Deutschendorf, No. 95SC531.

II.

The United States and Colorado constitutions prohibit the State from placing a person in jeopardy twice for the same offense. U.S. Const. amend. V; Colo. Const. art. II, § 18. The Double Jeopardy Clause protects individuals against three separate abuses: (1) a separate prosecution for the same offense after acquittal; (2) a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction; and (3) multiple punishments for the same crime. United States v. Halper, 490 U.S. 435, 441, 109 S.Ct. 1892, 1897-98, 104 L.Ed.2d 487 (1989); Boulies v. People, 770 P.2d 1274, 1277-78 (Colo.1989). In the instant case, the petitioners both allege that the State has violated the third of these protections, claiming that the State exposed them to multiple punishments for the same crime by subjecting them first to an administrative license revocation proceeding, and then to a criminal prosecution with the potential for imposition of both criminal sanctions and license revocation. Additionally, Leever maintains that the State violated the first protection by initiating a criminal prosecution for the same offense that the Department of Revenue "acquitted" Leever of in the administrative license revocation hearing. We reject both of these contentions.

A.

The government may subject an individual to both criminal and civil sanctions with respect to the same acts or omissions. Helvering v. Mitchell, 303 U.S. 391, 399, 58 S.Ct. 630, 633, 82 L.Ed. 917 (1938); see also United States v. One Assortment of 89 Firearms, 465 U.S. 354, 361, 104 S.Ct. 1099, 1104, 79 L.Ed.2d 361 (1984). The Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits the government from criminally punishing, or attempting to punish, an individual twice for the same offense. Id. This court has previously held that license revocation proceedings are administrative civil proceedings, and are not criminal in nature. Colorado Dep't of Revenue v. Kirke, 743 P.2d 16, 20 (Colo.1987) ("License revocation proceedings are civil in nature; the protections afforded criminal defendants do not apply."); People v. McKnight, 200 Colo. 486, 493, 617 P.2d 1178, 1183 (1980) ("The administrative proceeding to revoke a driver's license because of habitual traffic offender status is a civil one.").

Because each of the cases before us involves a criminal prosecution following a civil proceeding, they do not constitute separate criminal prosecutions after acquittals for the same offenses. The petitioners were not "prosecuted" by the Department of Revenue, nor did the administrative resolution of their civil cases in their favor constitute "acquittals." The State thus does not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause by subjecting individuals to criminal prosecution pursuant to the DUI and/or DUI per se statutes subsequent to subjecting them to an administrative license revocation proceeding.

B.

Both petitioners contend that they have been subjected to multiple punishments for the same conduct in violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause. In determining whether this element of the Double Jeopardy Clause is implicated, the fact that the administrative proceeding is classified as civil, rather than criminal, is of no moment. Halper, 490 U.S. at 447-48, 109 S.Ct. at 1901-02. In order to establish that the State has imposed multiple punishments in violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause, an individual must demonstrate that: (1) the State has subjected the individual to separate proceedings; (2) the conduct precipitating the separate proceedings consisted of one offense; and (3) the penalties in each of the proceedings may be considered "punishment" for the...

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6 books & journal articles
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