Sara B. Thomas, State Appellate Public Defender; Spencer J. Hahn, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant. Spencer J. Hahn argued.
Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Lori A. Fleming, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Lori A. Fleming argued.
SCHWARTZMAN, Judge Pro Tem.
Juan L. Juarez appeals from his judgment of conviction for felony driving under the influence. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.
FACTS AND PROCEDURE
Juarez was charged by information with driving under the influence (DUI) pursuant to Idaho Code § 18-8004(1)(a). Pursuant to Idaho Code § 18-8005(6), the charge was enhanced to a felony based on the allegation that Juarez had twice been convicted in the preceding ten years of " substantially conforming foreign criminal [DUI] violation[s]," once in Nevada and once in California. Juarez waived his right to a jury trial. The State filed a motion in limine, seeking a ruling on whether Juarez's Nevada and California DUI convictions qualified as substantially conforming violations that could be utilized to enhance the charge. While the motion was pending, Juarez pled guilty to misdemeanor DUI, but requested a trial on the felony enhancement. He only objected to the use of the Nevada conviction, arguing it was not substantially conforming to Idaho's DUI statute. The district court ruled otherwise and found the Nevada statute could be used for enhancement purposes. Following a bench trial, the district court found Juarez guilty of the felony enhancement and imposed a unified sentence of five years, with three years determinate, but suspended the sentence and placed Juarez on probation for three years. Juarez now appeals.
Juarez contends the district court erred by concluding Nevada's DUI statute was a substantially conforming foreign criminal violation pursuant to subsections (6) and (10) of section 18-8005. In Idaho, a charge under section 18-8004 for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs may be enhanced to a felony pursuant to subsection (6) of section 18-8005, which provides, in pertinent part:
Except as provided in section 18-8004C, Idaho Code, any person who pleads guilty to or is found guilty of a violation of the provisions of section 18-8004(1)(a), (b) or (c), Idaho Code, who previously has been found guilty of or has pled guilty to two (2) or more violations of the provisions of section 18-8004(1)(a), (b) or (c), Idaho Code, or any substantially conforming foreign criminal violation, or any combination thereof, within ten (10) years, notwithstanding the form of the judgment(s) or withheld judgment(s), shall be guilty of a felony[.]
(Emphasis added.) Subsection (10) of section 18-8005 further provides in relevant part:
For the purpose of subsections (4), (6) and (9) of this section ... a substantially conforming foreign criminal violation exists when a person has pled guilty to or has been found guilty of a violation of any federal law or law of another state ... substantially conforming to the provisions of section 18-8004, Idaho Code.
Whether a foreign criminal violation is substantially conforming is a question of law to ...