Facts: Petitioner Scott Winebrenner was arrested for driving under the influence in 2001 and entered into a deferred prosecution. Winebrenner was subsequently arrested and convicted for reckless driving in 2005 and the deferred prosecution was revoked and Winebrenner sentenced for the 2001 arrest for driving under the influence. In sentencing Winebrenner for driving under the influence, the Seattle Municipal Court treated the offense as a first offense and therefore sentenced Winebrenner to the mandatory minimum. The city of Seattle appealed Winebrenner’s sentence, asserting that Winebrenner’s 2005 conviction for reckless driving should have been considered a prior offense, thereby subjecting Winebrenner to an enhanced sentence. The Superior Court for King County agreed and remanded the case for resentencing. Upon appeal, the Washington Court of Appeals affirmed the superior court’s decision. Winebrenner appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Washington.
Question(s): Does Winebrenner’s 2005 conviction for reckless driving constitute a prior offense for purposes of sentencing pursuant to Washington Revised Code §46.61.5055 (the penalty schedule for alcohol-related offenses)?
Conclusion: Justice Chambers’ opinion for the Court reversed the Washington Court of Appeals, concluding that §46.61.5055 is ambiguous with regard to whether prior offenses include all prior convictions regardless of whether the events giving rise to those convictions occurred after those giving rise to the current offense. Thus, applying the rule of lenity, the Court ruled that Winebrenner’s 2005 conviction for reckless driving could not be treated as a prior offense in sentencing Winebrenner for driving under the influence in 2001.
Respondent: City of Seattle
Other Parties: City of Seattle (respondent) v. Quezada (petitioner)
- City of Seattle's Supplemental Brief
- Petition for Review of Quezada
- Petition for Review of Winebrenner
- Petitioner Brief in Quezada
- Petitioner Brief in Winebrenner
- Reply in Quezada
- Reply in Winebrenner
- Reply of WACDL Amicus in Quezada
- Respondent Brief in Quezada
- Respondent Brief in Winebrenner
- Respondent's Response to WACDL Amicus in Quezada
- WACDL Amicus in Quezada
Argument: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 9:00am
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Thursday, October 29th, 2009
Prevailing Party: City of Seattle (Respondent)
Note: We post only slip opinion(s) as published at the time of the decision. Please consult Washington Reports printed volumes for the opinion(s) in their final form. Each opinion should appear next to the Justice who authored it.