STATE v. WAYNE A. KING, SC 20588

Judicial District of Waterbury at G.A. 4

 

      Criminal; Driving Under the Influence; Whether Appellate Court Correctly Concluded That Elements of Florida Offenses of Which Defendant Previously Had Been Convicted Were Substantially the Same as Elements of General Statutes § 14-227a (a) for Enhancement Purposes Under § 14-227a (g) (3).  In 2016, the defendant was convicted of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs (DUI) in violation of General Statutes §§ 14-227a (a) (1) and 14-227a (a) (2) and of being a third time offender in violation of §14-227a (g) based upon his DUI convictions in Florida in 2000 and 2006.  Following his 2016 conviction, the defendant was sentenced to three years of imprisonment, execution suspended after eighteen months, twelve months of which is mandatory, followed by three years of probation pursuant to § 14-227a (g), which imposed enhanced penalties for third time offenders.  On appeal, the defendant challenged whether the trial court correctly concluded that his Florida convictions could serve as prior offenses for sentence enhancing purposes pursuant to § 14-227a (g).  The defendant claimed that the trial court should not have sentenced him as a third time offender because the essential elements of Connecticut's DUI statute are not substantially the same as the essential elements of Florida's DUI statute.  The defendant also claimed that State v. Burns, 236 Conn. 18 (1996), and State v. Mattioli, 210 Conn. 573 (1989), should be overruled because those cases contravene the plain language of § 14-227a (g), which requires that a defendant's prior convictions occur less that ten years before the current conviction for enhancement purposes.  The Appellate Court affirmed (204 Conn. App. 1) the judgment of the trial court that enhancement was appropriate because Connecticut's DUI statute was substantially similar to Florida's DUI statute.  In so concluding, the Appellate Court reasoned that application of the current revision of § 14-227a rather than the revision that was in existence at the time of the Florida convictions did not violate the ex post facto clause because the application of the current revision did not enhance the defendant's punishment for his Florida convictions and did not punish him for conduct that was not criminal in Connecticut at the time he committed the Florida offenses.  The Appellate Court further noted that application of the current revision merely enhanced his sentence for his current illegal conduct because it was considered more serious in light of his earlier offenses in Florida.  The Appellate Court rejected the defendant's second claim seeking to overturn Burns and Mattioli on the basis that, as an intermediary appellate court, it is unable to overrule the decisions of the Supreme Court.  The defendant was granted certification to appeal, and the Supreme Court will decide whether the Appellate Court correctly concluded that the elements of the Florida offenses of which the defendant previously had been convicted were substantially the same as the elements of General Statutes § 14-227a (a) for enhancement purposes under § 14-227a (g) (3).