The People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner/Cross-Respondent
Gregory K. Hoskin, Respondent/Cross-Petitioner:
to the District Court Mesa County District Court Case No.
14CV4106 Honorable Brian J. Flynn, Judge
Attorneys for Petitioner/Cross-Respondent: Daniel P.
Rubinstein, District Attorney, Twenty-first Judicial District
Jeremy Chaffin, Deputy District Attorney Grand Junction,
Attorneys for Respondent/Cross-Petitioner: Perkins Coie LLP
Michael L. Bender Daniel Graham Benjamin J.H. Delanghe
In this case, we must determine (1) whether Colorado's
speeding statute creates a permissive inference or a
mandatory rebuttable presumption and (2) whether there is
sufficient evidence to support Respondent/Cross-Petitioner
Gregory K. Hoskin's speeding violation. The county court
found that Mr. Hoskin committed a traffic infraction in
violation of the speeding statute, section 42-2-1101, C.R.S.
(2016), because the People offered evidence that he was
driving in excess of the posted speed limit and he did not
"contradict and overcome" this evidence with
proof that his speed was "reasonable and prudent under
the conditions then existing." § 42-4-1101(1), (4),
C.R.S. (2016). Mr. Hoskin appealed, and the district court
reversed, concluding that the statute creates a permissive
inference and that insufficient evidence supported Mr.
Hoskin's speeding violation. We granted certiorari and
We hold that the plain language of Colorado's speeding
statute creates a mandatory rebuttable presumption that does
not violate due process. Furthermore, we determine that there
is sufficient evidence in the record to support the county
court's judgment that Mr. Hoskin was speeding.
Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the district court
and remand the case to that court with instructions to return
the case to the county court to reinstate the judgment
against Mr. Hoskin.
Facts and Procedural History
Troopers from the Colorado State Patrol issued Mr. Hoskin a
summons for speeding in Mesa County, Colorado. He pleaded not
guilty, and the matter proceeded to a bench trial in county
court. At the trial, two state troopers testified that Mr.
Hoskin was driving seventy-eight miles per hour in a sixty
mile-per-hour zone. Mr. Hoskin cross-examined the troopers
about the methodology used to calculate his speed and then
testified in his defense. Contrary to the troopers'
testimony, Mr. Hoskin stated that he was actually traveling
in the "low seventies." He further testified that
his speed, despite exceeding the posted speed limit of sixty
miles per hour, was in fact reasonable and prudent because
the road surface was dry, his vehicle had new tires and was
well-maintained, the traffic was light, the visibility was
clear, he was driving within the stream of traffic, he had
exceptional visibility because of the curve in the road, and
he is an experienced driver. During closing argument, Mr.
Hoskin argued that Colorado law establishes only "one
hard speed limit" of seventy-five miles per hour and
that, because he was actually traveling less than
seventy-five miles per hour, the People failed to prove
beyond a reasonable doubt that his speed was not reasonable
The county court rejected Mr. Hoskin's arguments and
found that he had committed a traffic infraction. The court
determined that Colorado's speeding statute provides that
evidence of a driver's speed in excess of the posted
speed limit constitutes "prima facie evidence" that
his speed was not reasonable and prudent. See §
42-4-1101(4). It also cited the statute's statement that
such prima facie evidence "will remain sufficient proof
of" the fact that the speed was not reasonable and
prudent "unless contradicted and overcome by
evidence." Id. The county court thus concluded
that, once the prosecution established that Mr. Hoskin was
driving in excess of the posted speed limit, Mr. Hoskin was
required to present "sufficient evidence that [he] was
driving reasonably and prudently." See §
42-4-1101(1). Ultimately, the county court found that Mr.
Hoskin failed to meet that burden and thus found that he had
committed a traffic infraction.
Mr. Hoskin appealed, and the district court reversed. The
district court held that the county court impermissibly
shifted the burden of proof to Mr. Hoskin when it required
him to prove that his speed was reasonable and prudent,
thereby violating his due process rights. See People v.
Hoskin, No. 14CV4106, at 9 (Dec. 23, 2014). The district
court therefore remanded the case to the county court for a
new trial. Id. at 12. After cross-motions for
reconsideration, the district court modified its earlier
order to reflect that there was insufficient evidence to
support Mr. Hoskin's conviction and ordered the county
court to enter a judgment of acquittal. See People v.
Hoskin, No. 14CV4106, at 1-2 (modified Feb. 13, 2015).
We granted certiorari.
First, we must determine whether Colorado's speeding
statute creates a permissive inference or a mandatory
rebuttable presumption. To resolve this issue, we first
provide background on the statute. Then, we define and
explain the permissive inference and mandatory rebuttable
presumption concepts. Following that, we explain that the
plain language of Colorado's speeding statute creates a
mandatory rebuttable presumption that shifts the burden of
going forward to the defendant to produce evidence rebutting
the presumption that the defendant's speed was not
reasonable and prudent. Next, we outline Mr. Hoskin's
argument that the traffic infraction statute cannot create a
mandatory rebuttable presumption because doing so would
violate his due process rights. We then explain that the
statute does not violate his due process rights because
traffic infraction proceedings are civil matters in which
defendants are not entitled to the full panoply of criminal
due process protections. We therefore hold that the plain
language of Colorado's speeding statute creates a
mandatory rebuttable presumption that does not violate due
process. In the second issue, we address whether there is
sufficient evidence in the record to support the judgment
against Mr. Hoskin, and we conclude that there is. As a
result, we reverse the judgment of the district court and
remand the case to that court with instructions to return the
case to the county court to reinstate the judgment against
Permissive Inference vs. Mandatory Rebuttable
Standard of Review
Whether Colorado's speeding statute creates a permissive
inference or a mandatory rebuttable presumption is a matter
of statutory interpretation, which we review de novo. See
BP Am. Prod. Co. v. Colo. Dep't of Revenue, 2016 CO
23, ¶ 9, ___ P.3d ___; § 42-4-1101(4). When
interpreting a statute, our goal is to give effect to
legislative intent. BP Am. Prod. Co., ¶ 15. To
do so, we look to the statute's language and give its
words and phrases their ordinary and ...