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The Washington Supreme Court recently held in Washington v. Mecham that the Fourth Amendment does not authorize a defendant to refuse a roadside sobriety test. In a divided opinion, the state high court held that a police officer may stop any motorist he believes to be inebriated and ask him to perform roadside tests such as standing on one leg, the “stop and turn,” and the horizontal gaze nystagmus, which tests eye movement. If the driver refuses, the district attorney is permitted to tell the jury that his refusal is proof of his guilt. red eye

Defendant Mark Mecham would not take the allegedly “voluntary” field sobriety tests after being pulled over in Bellevue, Washington in May 2011. The officer did not think Mecham was driving while intoxicated. Instead, he stopped Mecham because he was driving with an outstanding warrant, which the officer learned after looking up his license plate number. After stopping the defendant, however, Officer Campbell observed signs of Mecham’s inebriation and found a beer can in the vehicle. Officer Campbell then took Mecham to the police station, and Mecham refused a breath test.

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The United States Supreme Court recently held in three consolidated appeals that the Fourth Amendment permits warrantless breath tests incident to arrest for drunk driving, but not warrantless blood tests.blood test

To combat drunk driving, all states prohibit individuals from driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over a prescribed level. BAC is generally determined using a blood or breath test. To enforce drivers’ cooperation, states have enacted “implied consent” laws requiring drivers to submit to BAC tests. The initial penalty for refusing these tests was a drivers’ license suspension. Over time, however, states have strengthened their DUI laws and have imposed stricter penalties for defendants with high BAC levels. Therefore, drivers fearing harsher punishments have greater reason to refuse testing. Some states now make it illegal to reject testing.

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The Illinois Court of Appeals for the Second District recently held that a delay in a hearing regarding the summary suspension of a defendant’s driving privileges attributable to a continuance did not entitle him to rescission of the suspension on the ground that he was not afforded a hearing within 30 days. gavel

In January 2015, Mario Guillermo was arrested for DUI. According to the police report, Guillermo was served with immediate notice of the suspension of his driving privileges because he refused to submit to testing.

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The Arizona Supreme Court held last month that a trial court should examine the totality of the circumstances to decide whether consent to a search was voluntary, even when it was given after a law enforcement officer’s assertion of his lawful authority to search. Put differently, an officer’s assertion of his lawful authority to search does not negate the court’s need to engage in a totality of the circumstances test to determine whether consent was voluntary.

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In August 2012, an Arizona officer found appellant Francisco Valenzuela asleep in the driver’s seat of his stopped truck with the engine running. After spotting an open container, detecting an odor of alcohol, and observing other signs that Valenzuela was impaired, the officer arrested Valenzuela on suspicion of a DUI.

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Last month, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez announced an initiative that will put volunteer monitors in courtrooms to police DUIs and report findings on social media to indicate whether these monitors, with no or minimal legal training, believe, in their lay opinion, that offenders were let off too easily. Governor Martinez said this is a way to hold offenders and judges accountable. Others believe is is an intimidation tactic.

The volunteers will attend DUI hearings and report on how the courts are handling drunk driving. They will then send details regarding the sentences to state officials, who will identify repeat DUI offenders and judges in tweets and Facebook posts.

The program, spearheaded by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), is part of the Governor’s executive initiative to combat DUIs. Many believe that these public shaming tactics harken back to the “Scarlett Letter” days of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

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Florida Circuit Judge Charles Burton recently upheld North Lauderdale defendant Kenneth Jenkins’ 33-year sentence for DUI manslaughter, the longest sentence ever imposed in Florida for this crime. beer-cup-1516057

Jenkins pleaded guilty to causing a 2008 head-on collision on Interstate 95 that killed three victims. Jenkins’ blood-alcohol level that night was .182, more than two times the legal limit. In fact, Jenkins was so drunk that he has no memory of the crash.

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently took issue with Indiana’s no-texting statute, explaining that Illinois’ “hands-free” statute was more sensible and effective. cell-phone-2-1525544

Indiana statutorily prohibits drivers from texting while driving. All other cellphone use, however, is permitted. This includes making phone calls, consulting directions, reading news, playing music, playing games, and even watching television.

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Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 3.34.32 PMThe Illinois Court of Appeals for the Third District recently reiterated that a guilty plea waives non-jurisdictional errors.

In December 2011, defendant Chad Morse was charged in Whiteside County with aggravated DUI, reckless homicide, and DUI. The indictment alleged that Morse was driving under the influence of alcohol on November 26, 2011 when he fatally struck a pedestrian.

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Last month, the Illinois Court of Appeals for the First District affirmed the circuit court’s suspension of a defendant’s driving privileges, holding that the defendant’s weaving between lanes provided reasonable suspicion for the stop. missing-1308392

Defendant Michael Magnant appealed a Cook County circuit court order denying his petition to rescind the statutory suspension of his driving privileges. On appeal, Magnant argued that the court erroneously denied his petition because the police officer unlawfully seized him in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. He also contended that the officer lacked probably cause to arrest him and charge him with DUI.

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Following a bench trial, defendant Brandon Little was convicted of felony driving while license suspended or revoked (DWLS) and was sentenced to one year of conditional discharge and 60 days in county jail. Little appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his pretrial motion to suppress evidence. The appeals court held that the motion was properly denied because the arresting officer had reasonable suspicion to effectuate the investigatory stop.

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Little was arrested and charged with DWLS in August 2011. Prior to trial, he filed a motion to suppress evidence. At the evidentiary hearing, Deputy Pilat testified that at about 11 pm on the evening of the arrest, he was dispatched to the property of Stanford O’Hern in McDonough County regarding a criminal trespass complaint. Upon arriving, O’Hern told Pilat he heard someone across the road trespassing and training their dogs to hunt raccoons.

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