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Miranda warnings are heard in almost every television show about the criminal court system, and most people know that if you are placed under arrest the police are obligated to read you warnings regarding your rights. While a failure of an arresting officer to advise a defendant of his or her Miranda rights can result in the suppression of evidence in a criminal trial, the Appellate Court of Illinois recently held in People v. Norris that the same standards do not apply in statutory summary suspension hearings.  If you are charged with a DUI or are facing a DUI related suspension of your license, you should meet with an Illinois DUI attorney as soon as possible to discuss the evidentiary standards that apply to your case.

The Norris Factual Background

Allegedly, the defendant was stopped for suspicion of DUI. During the stop, he admitted to drinking alcohol earlier in the evening. He was subsequently charged with DUI. Due to his refusal to submit to chemical testing at the time of his arrest, the defendant’s license was subject to a one-year statutory summary suspension. He filed a motion to rescind the suspension, arguing that the arresting officer lacked reasonable suspicion of DUI and failed to advise the defendant of the consequences of his refusal to submit to chemical testing. The defendant also filed a motion to suppress statements he made following his arrest due to the fact the arresting officer failed to advise him of his Miranda rights. The court denied the defendant’s motion and allowed the arresting officer to testify during the license suspension hearing that the defendant admitted to drinking on the night of his arrest. The defendant appealed.

Evidentiary Standard for Statutory Summary Suppression Hearings

On appeal, the defendant argued that the court erred in denying his motion to suppress. Specifically, he stated that the officer’s questions during the traffic stop constituted a custodial interrogation and should be inadmissible due to the lack of Miranda warnings. In turn, the State argued that a Miranda violation was not grounds for suppression of a statement during a statutory summary suppression hearing. In analyzing the issue, the court noted that the hearing in question is a civil hearing, and was subject to the same rules as other civil hearings.

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A hotly contested issue in DUI cases throughout the nation is whether a blood draw taken from an unconscious DUI suspect is unconstitutional. While the Appellate Court of Illinois recently held that a warrantless blood draw from an unconscious suspect who is not under arrest violates the suspect’s Fourth Amendment Rights, approximately twenty-nine other states have laws permitting such blood draws.

It appears this controversial issue has come to a head, however, as the United States Supreme Court recently granted a petition to review in a Wisconsin case challenging an implied consent law permitting warrantless blood draws on unconscious defendants. Thus, it is anticipated that the country will soon have clear authority as to whether warrantless blood draws taken from unconscious defendants violate the right against unreasonable search and seizure afforded by the Fourth Amendment. If you are currently facing DUI charges, it is important to retain a knowledgeable Illinois DUI attorney who can advise you of how changes in the law affect your case.

The Wisconsin Case

Reportedly, the defendant in the Wisconsin case was stopped after the police received reports that he was driving while intoxicated. He submitted to a breath test, which revealed his blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit of .08. The defendant was arrested and transported to a hospital for a blood draw. While at the hospital, the defendant was allegedly read an Informing the Accused form and given the opportunity to withdraw his consent to the blood test. At that time, however, the defendant was unconscious and not able to respond. The police directed the hospital staff to draw the defendant’s blood, which they did. The blood draw revealed a blood alcohol level of .22. The defendant was subsequently convicted of a DUI, after which he appealed, arguing the blood draw was an unreasonable search that violated his constitutional rights. The State argued that the blood draw was valid under the Wisconsin Implied Consent Law. Ultimately, the Wisconsin Supreme Court found in favor of the State, holding that the officer did not need a warrant to obtain a blood sample from the defendant, pursuant to the Implied Consent Law.

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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.