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Last month in Williams v. State, the Georgia Supreme Court remanded a defendant’s DUI case after the trial court erroneously failed to address whether the defendant gave actual consent to his blood test.

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After a bench trial, defendant John Cletus Williams was convicted of DUI and failure to maintain lane in violation of Georgia law. Prior to trial, he unsuccessfully moved to suppress the results of his blood test on the grounds that it was obtained without a search warrant in violation of the Fourth Amendment. He argued that Georgia’s implied consent statute was unconstitutional as applied to him because it did not amount to voluntary consent for Fourth Amendment purposes.

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On February 27, an Illinois appellate court upheld a defendant’s license suspension despite the arresting officer’s incomplete report.

Defendant Jaime McLeer’s driver’s license was suspended after he refused to submit to testing to calculate the concentration of alcohol in his blood. McLeer was arrested for DUI in January 2014. When McLeer refused testing, the  officer told him that his driving privileges would be suspended. The officer gave the sworn report to McLeer. There was no date listed beside the “Notice of Summary Suspension/Revocation Given On.” Based on the missing date, the defendant petitioned the court to rescind the suspension.

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At the hearing on the petition, the  officer testified that because information was missing from the sworn report, the Secretary of State’s office initially could not confirm the summary suspension. Thus, the Secretary advised the officer to fill in the portion of the form providing when “Notice of Summary Suspension/Revocation [was] Given.” The arresting officer amended the report accordingly. He then sent the amended report to the Secretary, but he never sent the amended report to McLeer or to the court. The officer confirmed at the hearing, however, that he gave McLeer notice of the suspension on January 26, 2014.

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Chicago PoliceThanks to improved awareness, harsher penalties, and significant legislative efforts, drunk driving fatalities in Illinois have decreased by over 37 percent  between 2002 and 2012. Alcohol-impaired driving remains a serious problem in Illinois and throughout the country. In the United Staes in 2013, one person every 52 minutes was killed due to a drunk driving accident.

In 1982, former Secretary of State and Governor Jim Edgar helped found the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM), an independent non-profit group and Illinois’ first citizens’ task force. AAIM recently collected data regarding DUI arrests, accidents, and fatalities in 2013.

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Earlier this month, a North Carolina appellate court held that the Fourth Amendment does not apply in driver’s license revocation hearings, “even if those proceedings could be viewed as quasi-criminal in nature.”car-120674-m

In 2013, Myra Lynne Combs was stopped by North Carolina police without reasonable suspicion in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The arresting officer received an anonymous call regarding a possible drunk driver weaving in a blue Ford Explorer on Highway U.S. 52. The officer proceeded to U.S. 52 and observed a vehicle matching the caller’s description. The officer and a backup officer followed the suspect, but they did not observe any erratic driving aside from a “slight cross of the center” line of the roadway, which was unpainted. After the driver pulled into a driveway, the officers initiated a traffic stop.

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This month, the Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed a defendant’s DUI conviction based on the arresting officer’s Fourth Amendment violation.autumn-road-1432771-m

The defendant, Katelyn Bozarth, was charged with two counts of DUI after being arrested in a private driveway in Wayne County. She filed a motion to quash the arrest and suppress the evidence obtained against her on the grounds that the arresting officer lacked reasonable suspicion to seize her. After a hearing, the court denied the motion.

At a bench (non-jury) trial, the court found Bozarth guilty and ordered her to one year of court supervision. The defendant appealed, arguing the trial court erred in denying the motion to quash the arrest and suppress the evidence obtained therefrom. The Fifth District Appellate Court agreed with the defendant and reversed her conviction.

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drunk-driving-75579-mMothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) released a report last Thursday evaluating the status of drinking and driving across the United States. The report was put together by MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, a program launched in 2006 in response to over 13,000 annual drunk driving fatalities in the United States. Eight years after its launch, the campaign’s “Report to the Nation” overviews legislative accomplishments, problem areas, and future goals, providing a “great thumbnail” of our country’s current state of drunk driving, said MADD’s president. While MADD believes “tremendous progress has been made,” the report concludes that there is still significant work to be done.

The report used a five-star rating system, evaluating five areas that can be used to reduce fatalities from drunk driving. The categories include ignition interlock laws, sobriety checkpoints, license revocation, child endangerment laws, and no-refusal events. MADD gave a star to each state based on the existence of legislation in each of these categories.

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ir-hemp-leaf-866036-mThe Illinois State Bar Association submitted a bill to the Illinois legislature last month seeking to amend Illinois’ no-tolerance DUI law.

The bill refers to a 2011 incident in Lake Island where driver Scott Shirey was charged with homicide when his son died in a car crash. The accident was not Shirey’s fault, but he was nonetheless charged because he smoked marijuana one month before the incident.

Law enforcement officials are legally required to take blood tests of all drivers involved in car crashes that result in death or serious bodily injury.

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Defendant, Mr. Chiaravalle, was charged with a DUI in January 2014. His attorneys filed a pre-trial motion to bar the admission of his Breathylzer test, arguing it was improperly administered. The lower court granted the motion and the state appealed. The appellate court agreed with the state and reversed.

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In February of 2014, the defendant pleaded not guilty and the state summarily suspended his license. He filed a request for a hearing and a petition to rescind the suspension, arguing the arresting officer failed to properly administer the breath test. The trial court judge conducted a hearing and found that the arresting officer failed to comply with the statutorily prescribed 20 minute observation period following the breath test because he turned his back on the defendant several times. Finding that the necessary foundation for the test was not met and that the observation failed, the judge granted the petition to rescind the summary suspension. A subsequent judge adopted these findings at a pre-trial motion hearing, stating that there had been no substantial compliance with the 20 minute observation period. The court granted the defendant’s pre-trial motion to suppress the Breathalyzer results and the state appealed. The appellate court ultimately sided with the state.

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get-your-motor-runnin-1173983-mA Champaign County trial judge’s improper response to deliberating jurors prompted an Illinois appellate court to reverse one defendant’s aggravated DUI conviction recently.

Mr. Hasselbring, 31, was charged after cocaine metabolites were found in his blood following a motorcycle accident killing his friend, a Mr. Piat, age 26. Piat died in November 2010 from head trauma sustained during the September 2010 accident. Hasselbring’s motorcycle collided with Piat’s motorcycle in Champaign as the men headed a band of motorcyclists heading east on Kirby Road.

On June 2011, defendant was charged with aggravated DUI, a felony, due to the cocaine metabolites found in his system. Judge John Kennedy presided over Hasselbring’s jury trial and sentenced him to 11 years in prison.

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Bob Avellini, Chicago Bears quarterback from 1975 to 1984, was sentenced last month to 18 months in prison for an aggravated DUI. Avellini agreed to plead guilty in exchange for the sentence. Had he not taken the plea, Avellini could have been sentenced to up to seven years for the felony DUI. DuPage County judge Daniel Guerin ordered Avellini to commence serving his sentence on December 1 of this year.

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In September 2013, 61-year-old Avellini was charged with a felony DUI and a probation violation when police stopped him near his Roselle home. According to the police, he smelled of alcohol, had “glassy bloodshot eyes” and slurred speech, and had a blood alcohol level of .181, more than twice what is legally permissible. He was just nine days into serving a 2002 DUI conviction, which involved a license suspension. Since 2002, Avellini has been arrested for six DUIs and has been convicted of three according to court records.

One of Avellini’s attorneys, David Spada, said that Avellini suffers from depression and post-concussive syndrome as a result of brain trauma incurred while playing football. Spada claims the depression likely contributes to Avellini’s issues with substance abuse.

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