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One of the many protections afforded by the United States Constitution is the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. Pursuant to the Fourth Amendment, a defendant cannot be searched without a warrant absent consent. While there are exceptions to this rule, the state bears the burden of proving that an exception applies.

In People v. Pratt, the Appellate Court of Illinois, Fifth District, held that a blood draw taken without a warrant when the defendant was unconscious violated his Fourth Amendment rights. If you are charged with a DUI, you should consult an experienced Illinois DUI attorney to assess what evidence the state is permitted to use against you.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Chemical Testing

Allegedly, the defendant was involved in a car accident in which his passenger was killed. He was transported to a hospital for treatment but was not placed under arrest. A police officer that investigated the accident directed medical professionals to draw the defendant’s blood while he was unconscious so that chemical testing could be performed. Based on the results of the chemical testing, the defendant was charged with aggravated DUI. Prior to his trial, he filed a motion to suppress the test results, on the grounds that the blood draw constituted an unreasonable warrantless search that violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The trial court granted his motion. The state then appealed; on appeal, the appellate court affirmed.

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The grounds for detaining and arresting a driver suspected of driving under the influence vary from state to state. Utah, which arguably has the strictest DUI laws in the country, permits an officer to detain a driver due to reasonable suspicion of a DUI. Utah drivers can also be charged with a DUI without conclusive results from chemical testing, and drivers may have no recourse for inaccurate charges.

For example, the Utah courts recently held that a woman who was charged with a DUI prior to the results of her blood alcohol test could not recover on a claim against the officer who arrested her, on the grounds the officer had reasonable suspicion she was intoxicated. If you are charged with a DUI, you should meet with an Illinois DUI attorney to analyze whether your arrest and subsequent charge comply with the standards imposed by Illinois law.

Utah Standard Regarding Detention for DUI

Allegedly, the defendant was driving when she was stopped by police due to an expired license plate. She advised the police officer that her new plate was in the trunk of her car, which the officer verified. The officer suspected the defendant was intoxicated, however, in spite of the fact that she was not stumbling or slurring her speech and her eyes were not glassy or bloodshot. The defendant admitted she had one beer with lunch, and submitted to field sobriety tests, which she failed. The defendant argued, however, that she was given unclear instructions on how to perform the test. She was subsequently arrested and taken to the county jail to provide a blood sample. She was charged with a DUI prior to the results of the blood test. The blood test ultimately revealed her blood alcohol level to be .01%, which was well below the legal limit in Utah of .05%.

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In most if not all states, a DUI is a misdemeanor charge. Many states, however, also allow the state to increase the severity of a DUI charge and penalties if certain factors are present. In cases where driving under the influence of alcohol results in an accident that causes bodily injury or death, a defendant may face severe penalties far more substantial than typically imposed for a DUI charge.

For example, in a recent California case, a 26-year-old woman was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to thirty years to life in prison following an alcohol-related accident that resulted in the death of six people. If you are accused of aggravated DUI you should consult an Illinois DUI attorney to assist you in formulating a defense.

Factual Background of the California Accident

Allegedly, the driver was driving a Camaro 100 miles an hour in the wrong direction on a California highway in 2014 when she crashed into a Ford Explorer, which then struck a third car. The driver’s sister and best friend were passengers in her car. Several people were ejected from both the Camaro and the Explorer, and only the driver and the driver of the third car survived. The driver’s blood alcohol level was calculated to be .15% three hours after the accident. The driver had previously been convicted of a DUI and warned about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol. Her license, which was suspended following her previous DUI conviction, was reinstated just one week before the crash. She was charged with six counts of second-degree murder, to which she plead no contest. She was subsequently sentenced to thirty years to life in prison.

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Whether the machine used to administer your breath test was properly certified could make or break the state’s case against you. Illinois regulations set forth several parameters and guidelines the state must comply with to ensure that any machine used to administer a blood or breath test is accurate. If the machine used to administer a breath or blood test was not properly calibrated or tested, any results from the test should arguably be precluded as their accuracy cannot be verified. When it is revealed that the state cannot prove a machine used to administer chemical testing to DUI suspects is accurate, it often affects more than one case and the effects can be far-reaching.

Recently, in State v. Cassidy, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that any results from machines that were not properly calibrated for several years were inadmissible, and ordered the state to notify all affected defendants so they could seek appropriate relief. It is estimated that over 20,0000 convictions will be affected by the Cassidy decision, arguably making it one of the most substantial rulings in favor of DUI defendants in recent times. If you are charged with a DUI you should retain an experienced Illinois DUI to attorney analyze the accuracy of any evidence that may be used against you.

New Jersey Supreme Court Ruling

Reportedly, the police officer in charge of calibrating the breath test machines for several New Jersey counties and ensuring that the machines were accurate failed to take a required step in the process, potentially affecting over 20,0000 breath test results. In State v. Cassidy, the Supreme Court of New Jersey analyzed whether the failure to perform all the tests needed to ensure the accuracy of the machines called into question the reliability of the tests.

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Under Illinois DUI law, whether a DUI is charged as a misdemeanor or felony depends in part on whether any enhancing factors exist such as whether the defendant committed any prior violations of the DUI statute. While the Supreme Court of Illinois has definitively stated a previous conviction of the DUI is not necessary to prove a defendant committed a violation, it has not defined the scope of what evidence is admissible to establish a violation. While it is not precedential, in State v. Hastey the Maine Supreme Court recently held that extrinsic evidence outside of a DUI charge or conviction is admissible as evidence of an enhancing factor in charging a defendant with an aggravated DUI. If you face DUI charges and were previously charged with DUI, an experienced Illinois DUI attorney can help you determine what evidence the state may attempt to introduce against you and assist you in formulating a defense.

Facts of the Case

Purportedly, in Hastey, the defendant was charged with aggravated criminal OUI. Under Maine law, a person commits aggravated criminal OUI if he or she operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants and has a prior criminal homicide conviction resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants.

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The Supreme Court of the United State’s ruling in Birchfield v. North Dakota has resulted in countless appeals all over the country, as defense attorneys and prosecutors try to discern the implications of the ruling. One issue that frequently arises is whether the refusal to undergo a blood test without a warrant is admissible to prove guilt at a trial for DUI charges. The Nebraska Supreme Court recently addressed this issue in Nebraska v. Hood, ruling that Birchfield did not prohibit the introduction of such evidence. If you are charged with a DUI and refused to undergo a warrantless blood test, it is important to know your rights.  A seasoned Illinois DUI attorney can assist you in analyzing what defenses may be available to the charges you face.

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Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the suspect in Hood was driving a vehicle involved in a two-car collision. The driver of the other vehicle died at the scene and a passenger from the other vehicle died 9 days later. An off-duty police officer arrived at the scene shortly after the accident and observed a strong odor of alcohol on the suspect’s breath. An officer who responded to the accident drove the suspect to the hospital. The responding officer also noted alcohol on the suspect’s breath and observed that the suspect’s speech was slurred and his eyes were bloodshot. An open bottle of liquor was found in the suspect’s vehicle as well. When he was asked if he had been drinking the suspect stated he had consumed four beers the night before. He was asked to undergo a preliminary breath test and refused. He was then asked to undergo a blood test and refused that as well.

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In Birchfield v. North Dakota, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a warrant is required to obtain a blood test from a DUI suspect, and that a DUI suspect could not face criminal penalties for refusing to submit to a warrantless blood test. Birchfield did not address, however, what penalties could be imposed on a DUI suspect for refusal to comply with a search warrant for a blood test.  Recently in Wyoming, DUI suspects who refused to comply with search warrants for blood tests were charged and found guilty of interference with a police officer. Similarly, under Illinois DUI law, a refusal to comply with a warrant for a blood test may result in an obstruction of justice charge. If you were charged with a DUI and refused to submit to a search warrant for a blood test, it is important to know what penalties you may face. A seasoned Illinois DUI attorney can advise you of what defenses may be available to the charges you face and assist you in obtaining a favorable result.

Wyoming Implied Consent Advisement 

Two separate cases in Wyoming arose under similar facts and ended in the same penalties for the drivers involved. It was alleged in both cases that the defendants were stopped due to suspicion of DUI and refused to submit to chemical testing. Under Wyoming’s Implied Consent Advisement, police can obtain a search warrant for a blood test if a DUI suspect refuses to submit to a blood test voluntarily. In both cases the police obtained search warrants for blood tests, and both suspects subsequently refused to comply with the search warrants. While neither suspect was convicted of DUI, both were convicted with interference with a police officer for refusing to submit to their respective warrants for blood tests, and sentenced to jail time. Both cases were appealed and the appeals are pending.

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The United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable search and seizure, which means you cannot be stopped and you and your property cannot be searched without just cause. As set forth in State v. Walker, the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure has been applied to suppress evidence obtained during an inappropriate search. As such, if you were stopped without cause while driving a motor vehicle and subsequently charged with a DUI due to evidence obtained during the stop, the state may not be able to use any of that evidence against you. An experienced Illinois DUI attorney can analyze the situation surrounding your detainment and the applicable laws to determine whether stopped you without reasonable suspicion.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the suspect in Walker was stopped for making an improper left turn. His license was suspended at the time he was stopped, and he was ticketed. The suspect filed a motion to suppress evidence from the stop, arguing the officer lacked reasonable suspicion the suspect violated the law, and that any evidence obtained via the stop violated the suspect’s right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure. The trial court heard testimony that suspect made a left hand turn into the far lane of a road that had two lanes of traffic in each direction. The court also heard testimony, however, that the applicable motor vehicle code stated a driver should turn into the near lane when possible, but did not prohibit a driver from turning into the far lane. As such, the court granted the suspect’s motion to suppress. The state appealed, arguing the officer did have reasonable suspicion to stop the defendant, and that the exclusionary rule should not be applied regardless. The Appellate Court of Illinois affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

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Birchfield v. North Dakota, which was decided by the United States Supreme Court in 2016, continues to raise questions in courts throughout the country as to how DUI cases can be prosecuted and what evidence can be admitted against defendants charged with DUI. Recently, in Vermont v. Rajda, the Vermont Supreme Court held that a defendant’s refusal to submit to a blood test could be introduced at trial as evidence of guilt. Illinois DUI law remains unsettled as to whether a defendant’s refusal to submit to a blood test can be admitted as evidence of guilt, but as courts throughout the country continue to face this issue, it is likely only a matter of time before it is addressed by the Illinois courts.

In Vermont, defendants in several cases filed motions in limine to suppress evidence of their refusal to submit to blood tests from being introduced at trial. The trial court granted the motions, based on its belief that Birchfield recognized a constitutional right to refuse a blood test, which the court believed superseded the Vermont implied consent law and prohibited the admission of a defendant’s refusal to submit to a blood test into evidence. The state appealed, arguing that Birchfield held that evidence of refusal to submit to a blood test was admissible at trial, and further, that an amendment to Vermont’s implied consent law rendered the constitutional issue moot. On appeal, the court held that the trial court erred in granting defendants’ motions in limine, reversing the trial court ruling.

In its analysis, the court noted that the amended Vermont implied consent law stated that a defendant had a right to refuse to submit to evidentiary testing, but evidence of any refusal of a breath test could be introduced as evidence in a criminal proceeding. Defendants interpreted this language as implying that the legislature intended for refusal of breath tests to be permitted into evidence, but not refusal of blood tests. The court disagreed, noting that as the statute did not expressly prohibit admission of a refusal to submit to a blood test, such evidence could be admitted unless it was unconstitutional. Regarding the constitutional issue, the court noted that several other states that addressed the issue found that the Fourth Amendment did not bar evidence of refusal to submit to a blood test, and joined those courts in concluding evidence of refusal to submit to a blood test did not warrant constitutional protection. The court noted that Birchfield only barred the criminalization of a refusal to submit to a blood test, and did not prohibit the prosecution from entering evidence of the refusal. As such, the court held the admission of evidence of a defendant’s refusal to undergo blood testing was permitted.

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It goes without saying that in Illinois you must have a valid driver’s license to drive a vehicle. As such, if your license has been suspended or revoked, you cannot operate a motor vehicle. While you cannot drive a car without a license, you can drive a low-speed electric bicycle, as it is excluded from the definition of “motor vehicle” under the Illinois Vehicle Code. Due to an increase in popularity in low-speed bicycles and the lack of statutory regulations regarding their operation, the Illinois General Assembly recently passed laws clarifying the obligations imposed on owners of low-speed bicycles.

Electric and gas low-speed bicycles are perceived differently under the eyes of the law. To be defined as a low-speed electric bicycle, the bicycle must have fully functional pedals and an electric motor that is less than 750 watts. Low speed electric bicycles are classified into three groups: Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3.

The motor in a Class 1 bicycle only provides the rider with assistance if the rider is pedaling and stops providing assistance when the bicycle reaches 20 mph. If the rider is not pedaling or the bicycle reaches 20 mph, the motor is deactivated.