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= ; &= nbsp; &nb= sp; SUPREME COURT DOCKET NO. 2004-085
In re Allen Rheaume &nb= sp;  = ; &= nbsp; &nb= sp; } = APPEALED FROM:
= &n= bsp; &nbs= p; = &n= bsp; &nbs= p; } = Orleans Superior Court
Trial Judge: Dennis R. Pearson
= &n= bsp; &nbs= p; In the above-entitled cause, the Clerk will enter:
¶ 1 Petitioner, Allen Rheaume, was convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), fourth offense. In his motion for post-conviction relief, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the State. Petitioner argues that we should reverse State v. LeBlanc, 1= 71 Vt. 88, 759 A.2d 991 (2000), and hold that his fourth offense should be tr= eated as his second offense. We af= firm.
¶ 2 The State charged petitioner with DUI, fourth offe= nse on December 21, 2001. He had previously been convicted of DUI on February 22, 1982, November 16, 1986, = and December 20, 2001. The State= sought to have petitioner pay a pen= alty of “not more than $2,500 or [be] imprisoned not more than five years or both,” pursuant to the penalty provision for third or subsequent offenses, 23 V.S.A. § 1210(d).
¶ 3 While the charges were pending, petitioner moved to dismiss the allegation that he was a fourth offender, arguing that the Sta= te could charge him only with a DUI second offense under § 1210(d). Petitioner noted that the pre-1991 version of § 1210(d) forgave previous DUI convictions that occurred m= ore than fifteen years before the current conviction and consequently the State charged his December 20, 2001, DUI offense as a first offense. Petitioner explained that when the Legislature amended § 1210(d) in 1991 it deleted the fifteen-year forgiveness period, but added a savings clause that retained the forgivene= ss period for third convictions in cases where the prior convictions occurred before July 1, 1991. Petitio= ner argued based on the savings clause that the fifteen year forgiveness perio= d was a right that had previously vested, and having once been invoked to forgiv= e his first two DUIs when he was charged with a third DUI, the forgiveness period must still apply so that his fourth offense is treated as a second offense= .
The district court denied petitioner’s motio=
dismiss, and he pled guilty to and was convicted of DUI, fourth offense.
Petitioner filed a petition for
post-conviction relief raising the same arguments that he raised in his mo=
to dismiss. The State moved =
summary judgment arguing that no material facts were in dispute and that t=
holding in State v. LeBlanc settled the legal issue. The State relied on our statement=
that under the amended statute “there is no longer any forgiveness p=
for third or subsequent DUI convictions,” and if a defendant is conv=
for a fourth offense after 1995, “defendant has no right to have any=
his prior convictions forgiven.”&nb=
LeBlanc, 171 Vt. at 93–94, 759 A.2d at 994.
¶ 5 The superior court agreed, holding that no dispute= of facts existed and that LeBlanc was controlling. Therefore, the court granted the State’s summary judgment motion.
¶ 6 In LeBlanc, we reviewed the pre-1991 versio= n of 23 V.S.A. § 1210(d), and the 1991 amendment to determine “wheth= er the savings clause that accompanied the 1991 amendment to 23
§ 1210(d) is available to a defendant who had already been convicted =
. . (DUI) three times at the time of the amendment.” 171 Vt. at 89, 758 A.2d at 991.
We held that:
after the 1991 amendment, defendants who had two DUI convictions before 1991 may= seek to avail themselves of the fifteen-year forgiveness period to determine the penalty when convicted of a third offense. With that limited exception, there is no longer any forgiveness per= iod for third or subsequent DUI convictions.&= nbsp;
Id. at 93, 759 A.2d at 994.
In the present case, petitioner argues that LeB=
was wrongly decided and should be overturned. Specifically, petitioner contends=
we incorrectly: (1) interpreted the savings clause; (2) interpreted the
We see no reason to overturn our unanimous decisio=
n in LeBlanc. “[W]e have noted that altho=
are not ‘slavish adherents’ to [the doctrine of stare decisis],
neither do we lightly overturn recent precedent, especially where the prec=
could be changed easily by legislation at any time.” O’Connor v. City of Rutl=
172 Vt. 570, 570, 772 A.2d 551, 552 (2001) (mem.) (quotations omitted).
Applying LeBlanc to the present case, we
conclude that petitioner had no statutory right to have his fourth offense
treated as his second offense. When
petitioner committed his third DUI offense on December 20, 2001, he availed
himself of the fifteen-year forgiveness period to determine the penalty.
BY THE COURT:
Paul L. Reiber, Chief Justice
= &n= bsp; &nbs= p; = &n= bsp; &nbs= p; _______________________________________
John A. Dooley, Associate Justice
Denise R. Johnson, Associate Justice
Marilyn S. Skoglund, Associate Justice
Frederic W. Allen, Chief Justice (Ret.),