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Linnebur v. People.

2020 CO 79. No. 18SC884. Statutory Interpretation—Crimes—DUI—Prior Convictions.

November 9, 2020


The Supreme Court held that prior DUI convictions are substantive elements of a felony DUI offense that must be proved to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, rather than sentence enhancers to be proved to a judge by a preponderance of the evidence. Finding the language of CRS § 42-4-1301(1)(a) to be ambiguous, the Court examined the General Assembly’s intent by looking at the entirety of the statutory scheme, traditional treatment of the fact of prior convictions, and the risk of unfairness. Based on those factors, the Court concluded that the General Assembly intended the fact of prior convictions to be a substantive element of the felony offense. Accordingly, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ judgment and remanded the case for resentencing.

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