of Appeals Office of Appellate Courts.
Swanson, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and James
C. Backstrom, Dakota County Attorney, Tori K. Stewart,
Assistant County Attorney, Hastings, Minnesota, for
Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Steven
P. Russett, Assistant Public Defender, Saint Paul, Minnesota,
plain language of Minnesota Statutes section 169A.24,
subdivision 1(3) (2016), authorizes the use of a 1998 felony
conviction of criminal vehicular operation under Minnesota
Statutes section 609.21, subdivision 2a (1996), to enhance a
conviction of driving while impaired to a first-degree
Ralph Joseph Boecker pleaded guilty to one count of
first-degree driving while impaired (DWI) after the district
court found that his 1998 conviction for criminal vehicular
operation enhanced his 2015 DWI charge. See Minn.
Stat. § 169A.24, subd. 1(3) (2016); Minn. Stat. §
609.21, subd. 2a (1996). Boecker argues that he is entitled
to withdraw this plea because his 1998 conviction is not
included in the list of predicate felonies in section
169A.24, which enhance a DWI charge to first-degree DWI. The
sole issue here is whether a criminal vehicular operation
conviction from 1998, a year not specifically listed in the
current version of the first-degree DWI statute, can be used
to enhance a DWI charge to a first-degree offense. We hold
that it can, and we affirm the decision of the court of
facts here are undisputed. In 1997, Boecker caused a car
accident that resulted in another driver suffering serious
injuries. When the accident occurred, Boecker had a blood
alcohol concentration of 0.13 and no valid driver's
license. Following this accident, Boecker pleaded guilty to
one count of criminal vehicular operation resulting in
substantial bodily harm. See Minn. Stat. §
609.21, subd. 2a (1996). His plea was accepted, and he was
convicted in 1998.
January 2015, a police officer stopped Boecker after
observing erratic driving. After the officer stopped the car,
he noticed that Boecker's eyes were bloodshot and watery,
Boecker was slurring his words, and a strong odor of
alcoholic beverage emanated from inside the car. The officer
brought Boecker to the police department where Boecker agreed
to take a breath test. The test showed a blood alcohol
concentration of 0.14.
was charged with two counts of first-degree DWI. He contested
the use of his 1998 conviction to enhance his 2015 DWI charge
to a first-degree offense, but the district court found
sufficient probable cause for enhancement. Following the
district court's finding, Boecker pleaded guilty to one
count of first-degree DWI and received an executed sentence
of 48 months with a 5-year conditional release term.
appealed, contending that his 1998 conviction did not provide
a valid factual basis for his first-degree DWI plea. The
court of appeals affirmed the conviction. It first concluded
that section 169A.24 is ambiguous as to whether Boecker's
1998 conviction is a predicate felony. State v.
Boecker, 880 N.W.2d 391, 394, 396 (Minn.App. 2016). The
court of appeals then applied the canons of construction for
interpreting an ambiguous statute and noted that the
Legislature's intent was explicitly stated in the 2012
session law: "The legislature's intent has
always been that criminal vehicular operation convictions
under both the pre-2007 and the post-2007 law be used for
enhancing driving while impaired penalties . . . ."
Id. at 395 (quoting Act of Apr. 23, 2012, ch. 222,
§ 4, 2012 Minn. Laws 685, 687); see Minn. Stat.
§ 645.16 (2016).
court of appeals rejected Boecker's interpretation of the
statute after it examined the Legislature's express
intent and concluded that "Boecker cannot avoid
liability for first-degree DWI simply because the [criminal
vehicular operation] statute and the first-degree DWI statute
have been renumbered, reorganized, and amended." 880
N.W.2d at 396. Instead, the court of appeals held that
Boecker's 1998 criminal vehicular operation conviction is
a predicate felony for his first-degree DWI conviction.
Id.; see also Minn. Stat. § 169A.24,
subd. 1(3); Minn. Stat. § 609.21, subd. 2a(2)(i) (1996).
We granted Boecker's petition for further review.
question presented here is whether a conviction for criminal
vehicular operation under section 609.21, subdivision 2a,
from a year not specifically listed in the first-degree
driving while impaired statute, section 169A.24, subdivision
1(3), can be used to enhance a subsequent DWI charge to a
first-degree offense. The answer to this question resolves
Boecker's claim that his guilty plea lacked an adequate
validity of a guilty plea is a question of law, which is
reviewed de novo. State v. Raleigh, 778 N.W.2d 90,
94 (Minn. 2010). A defendant may withdraw a guilty plea if it
is "necessary to correct a manifest injustice."
Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 1. "A manifest injustice
exists if a guilty plea is not valid, " but a
"defendant bears the burden of showing his plea was
invalid." Raleigh, 778 N.W.2d at 94. "To
be constitutionally valid, a guilty plea must be accurate,
voluntary, and intelligent." Id. (citing
State v. Trott, 338 N.W.2d 248, 251 (Minn. 1983)).
When a plea is not established with a proper factual basis,
it is not accurate and, therefore, is invalid. Id. A
district court should not accept a guilty plea "unless
the record supports the conclusion that the defendant
actually committed an offense at least as serious as the
crime to which he is pleading guilty." Trott,
338 N.W.2d at 251-52 (citing State v. Goulette, 258
N.W.2d 758, 762 (Minn. 1977)).
if the first-degree DWI statute does not include
Boecker's 1998 criminal vehicular operation conviction as
a predicate felony for enhancing his 2015 DWI charge, then
the record would not show that Boecker actually committed an
offense at least as serious as the crime to which he pleaded
guilty. Without a valid predicate felony, the conduct that
Boecker admitted to at the guilty plea hearing amounted to
misdemeanor fourth-degree DWI. Minn. Stat. § 169A.27
(2016). To determine whether Boecker's plea was supported
by an accurate factual basis, we must interpret the
first-degree DWI statute, section 169A.24, subdivision 1(3).
a sentencing statute is a question of law, which we review de
novo." State v. Noggle, 881 N.W.2d 545, 547
(Minn. 2016) (citing State v. Leathers, 799 N.W.2d
606, 608 (Minn. 2011)). The plain language of the statute
controls when the meaning of the statute is unambiguous.
Minn. Stat. § 645.16. "A statute must be construed
as a whole and the words and sentences therein 'are to be
understood . . . in light of their context.' "
Schmidt ex rel. P.M.S. v. Coons, 818 N.W.2d 523, 527
(Minn. 2012) (quoting Christensen v. Hennepin Transp.
Co., 10 N.W.2d 406, 415 (Minn. 1943)). "We
interpret a statute 'as a whole so as to harmonize and
give effect to all its parts, and where possible, no word,
phrase, or sentence will be held superfluous, void, or
insignificant.' " 328 Barry Ave., LLC v. Nolan
Props. Grp., LLC, 871 N.W.2d 745, 749 (Minn. 2015)
(quoting Jackson v. Mortg. Elec. Registration Sys.,
Inc., 770 N.W.2d 487, 496 (Minn. 2009)). We may read
multiple parts of a statute together to determine whether a
statute is ambiguous. Christianson v. Henke, 831
N.W.2d 532, 537 (Minn. 2013) (citing Martin v.
Dicklich, 823 N.W.2d 336, 344 (Minn. 2012)). "A
statute is ambiguous only when the statutory language is
subject to more than one reasonable
interpretation." State v. Jones, 848 N.W.2d
528, 535 (Minn. 2014) (emphasis added) (quoting State v.
Fleck, 810 N.W.2d 303, 307 (Minn. 2012)).
Boecker pleaded guilty to first-degree DWI, which is defined
Subdivision 1. Degree described. A person
who violates section 169A.20 (driving while impaired) is
guilty of first-degree driving while impaired if the person:
. . .
(3) has previously been convicted of a felony under:
(i) Minnesota Statutes 2012, section 609.21 (criminal
vehicular homicide and injury, substance-related offenses),
subdivision 1, clauses (2) to (6);
(ii) Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 609.21
(criminal vehicular homicide and injury, substance-related
offenses), subdivision 1, clauses (2) to (6); subdivision 2,
clauses (2) to (6); subdivision 2a, clauses (2) to
(6); subdivision 3, clauses (2) to (6); or subdivision
4, clauses (2) to (6); or
(iii) section 609.2112, subdivision 1, clauses (2) to (6);
609.2113, subdivision 1, clauses (2) to (6), subdivision 2,
clauses (2) to (6) or subdivision 3, clauses (2) to (6); or
609.2114, subdivision 1, clauses ...