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This summer, the Florida Supreme Court heard arguments regarding whether the state has sufficient rules for measuring the blood-alcohol levels for DUI suspects. The case arose after a Palm Beach millionaire was convicted of DUI manslaughter following a 2010 collision. His attorneys challenged the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (“FDLE“) rules before the state high court. While the rules are not exactly the same in Illinois, people charged with an Illinois DUI may raise similar types of arguments in some cases.

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Following a late-night two-vehicle accident, in which the other driver died after his vehicle was submerged in a canal, the defendant was charged with DUI manslaughter with failure to render aid (Count 1) and vehicular homicide with failure to render aid (Count 2). He was convicted and sentenced following his first trial. After juror misconduct came to light, his first conviction was vacated, and he was granted a new trial.

At the second trial, the evidence showed that he ran a stop sign without braking and “t-boned” the victim. He was going 63 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone. The force of the impact pushed the victim’s Hyundai through the intersection and into a nearby canal, where it came to rest upside down. The defendant did not remain on the scene or assist the victim, who ultimately drowned. The victim did not sustain fatal injuries in the collision itself. Earlier in the evening, the defendant had consumed alcohol at several venues, the amount of which was a contested issue at trial. He was charged with DUI Manslaughter, Failure to Give Information or Render Aid, and Failure to Render Aid and Vehicular Homicide.

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This fall, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court considered whether field sobriety tests (FSTs) could be admitted as evidence when a police officer suspects the driver has been driving while under the influence of marijuana. In determining whether a suspect is driving under the influence of alcohol, police typically administer three FSTs — the “walk and turn test,” the “horizontal gaze nystagmus test,” and the “one leg stand test.” These tests were specifically developed to measure alcohol consumption, and there is agreement in the scientific community that a strong correlation exists between insufficient performance on the FSTs and a BAC (blood-alcohol content) of over .08% (the legal limit). By contrast, there is no scientific agreement yet that FSTs, or some FSTs, can determine marijuana intoxication.

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In 2016, the Illinois governor signed SB 2228, dictating that drivers will be subject to Illinois marijuana DUI charges only if they have at least 5 ng of THC in their blood, or at least 10 ng of THC in their saliva. Prior to the law, the state could bring DUI charges even when the subject had just trace amounts of THC in their system. This meant that someone who smoked marijuana weeks prior could still test positive and be charged with a misdemeanor. The fact that people could face DUIs for trace THC in their systems “was making a crime without any criminal intent,” said an Illinois public defender.

The new Illinois law did not change the pre-existing law making it a DUI to drive while under the influence of cannabis. At trial, the state must prove by the arresting officer’s expert testimony that the person was impaired due to the consumption of cannabis. As with a DUI for alcohol, a person can be found guilty even if he or she is under the “legal limit” if the court finds that he or she was impaired to the point that he or she was unable to safely operate a motor vehicle.

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The Washington Supreme Court recently considered whether a probationer convicted of DUI may legally be required to submit to a random urine test for drugs and alcohol. In an en banc opinion, the state high court affirmed the intermediate court’s holding that since the urine test was ordered to track whether she was complying with a valid probation condition requiring the appellant’s sobriety, it did not violate the state constitution.

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In the summer of 2014, the appellant pleaded guilty to one count of DUI. As a condition of her sentence, the court ordered that the appellant not do drugs that weren’t prescribed or drink alcohol. Over defense counsel’s objection, the court required the appellant to submit to random urine testing.

 

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A man was killed in a car crash caused by a driver who huffed 1,1-difluoroethane, or DFE, immediately before and while driving. Based on her prior history of becoming unconscious after huffing DFE, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded that her conduct constituted the high level of recklessness required for a finding of malice sufficient to support her convictions of third-degree murder and aggravated assault. It therefore affirmed the superior court’s decision. This decision may be relevant to Illinois drug DUI cases in the event that the courts in this state consider a similar situation.

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The Commonwealth charged the driver with numerous offenses, including aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault while DUI, homicide by vehicle, third-degree murder, and homicide by vehicle while DUI.

At her October 2014 jury trial, the evidence showed that the driver and her then-fiance drove to a Walmart store. They purchased two cans of Dust-Off and some other items and then returned to the car. (Dust-Off contains DFE, a colorless gas commonly used as a refrigerant or as a propellant for aerosol sprays and in gas duster products.) Before exiting the parking lot, she opened the Dust-Off, and both she and her ex-fiance huffed.

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In a case of interest to Illinois DUI lawyers, the founder of the International Polo Club raised 13 issues before Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal regarding his DUI manslaughter conviction. The appeals court affirmed, addressing only three of the issues raised by Goodman:  (1) whether the State prematurely released his vehicle after his first trial in violation of his due process rights and requiring dismissal under California v. Trombetta; (2) that the jury instructions on the failure to render aid enhancements violated due process by failing to require that he knew that the accident resulted in injuries or death; and (3) that his blood was drawn without a warrant, violating the Fourth Amendment Search and Seizure Clause.gavel Following a late-night car accident, in which the other driver died after his vehicle was submerged in a canal, the defendant was charged with DUI manslaughter with failure to render aid and vehicular homicide with failure to render aid. He was convicted and sentenced following his first trial. After juror misconduct came to light, the first conviction was vacated, and he was granted a new trial. In the second trial, he was again found guilty.

Regarding the defendant’s first challenge on appeal, the court agreed with the state and held that the court did not err in denying the motion to dismiss due to the loss of the car. Pursuant to Trombetta, the constitutional duty of the state to preserve evidence must be limited to evidence that might be expected to play a significant role in the suspect’s defense. To meet this standard of constitutional materiality, evidence must both possess an exculpatory value that was apparent before the evidence was destroyed and be of such a nature that the defendant would be unable to obtain comparable evidence by other reasonably available means.

The appeals court agreed with the trial court that the state did not act in bad faith in releasing the car. Therefore, it had to determine whether the car constituted materially exculpatory or only potentially useful evidence. The trial court held a full hearing on the issue of the exculpatory nature of the car and concluded that it was merely potentially exculpatory. It reasoned that the defendant’s expert, by his own testimony, had already formed an opinion of the malfunction and that his opinion on the state of the car at the time of the crash was complete. The “mere possibility of helping the defense” by conducting more testing on the car, which was already subjected to extensive testing by three experts, did not rise to the level of constitutional materiality.

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When a motorist drives on a road in Pennsylvania, he or she is “deemed to have given consent” to chemical testing to determine whether he or she is driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance (“DUI”), provided that a police officer first develops “reasonable grounds” to suspect such an impairment. Nonetheless, this “implied consent” statute also grants DUI arrestees the right to refuse chemical testing. While Illinois has its own laws, these principles are also relevant to Illinois DUI defendants.blood test

In a recent case, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted an appeal to consider the lawfulness of a warrantless blood draw conducted upon a motorist who, having been arrested for DUI, had then been rendered unconscious by medical personnel before a police officer provided O’Connell warnings and before the officer requested the motorist’s submission to a chemical test. The Philadelphia Municipal Court, the Court of Common Pleas, and the Superior Court all held that a blood draw conducted under these circumstances is impermissible and that the results of the derivative blood test are accordingly inadmissible at trial. Since the seizure of blood violated Pennsylvania’s implied consent statute, 75 Pa.C.S. § 1547, and since no other circumstances justified the failure to obtain a search warrant, the state high court affirmed.

On December 29, 2012, at approximately 3:30 p.m., a Philadelphia Police Officer was on routine patrol when he received a radio call indicating that there was a person screaming in the vicinity of 100 West Penn Street. The radio call warned him to be on the lookout for a maroon SUV. When he arrived on West Penn Street, he observed a vehicle matching that description with its engine running and its brake lights repeatedly flickering on and off. A man later identified as the defendant was sitting in the driver’s seat. The officer activated his siren and emergency lights and pulled up behind the maroon SUV. The defendant exited the vehicle and began to stagger toward the officer, even though he had not been ordered to step out of the vehicle. He tried to speak, but his speech was so slurred that the officer could not understand what he was saying. He detected the smell of alcohol emanating from the defendant, and he observed a bottle of brandy on the front seat of the SUV. The bottle was in plain view, since the defendant had left the driver’s door open when he exited the vehicle. Based upon his observations and experience, the officer believed that the defendant was intoxicated to the point that he required medical attention. He placed him under arrest for DUI and called for a wagon, which transported the defendant to Einstein Medical Center.

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Earlier this summer, a Riverdale resident pleaded guilty to misdemeanor drunk driving in a deadly crash that killed a pedestrian over 10 years ago. The case was among Cook County’s longest-stalled prosecutions. The Illinois DUI crash occurred in 2007.

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The defendant was originally charged with reckless homicide and aggravated DUI, which carried up to 14 years of incarceration. The 39-year-old man was instead sentenced to two years of probation in a plea deal that took 10 years to finalize. The case lasted through the tenures of three separate state attorneys. Current State Attorney Kim Foxx said in a statement that the delays were “unacceptable.” She pledged to ensure these situations do not recur.

The victim was killed in January 2007 after the defendant’s vehicle struck him while he was walking on the street in Harvey, Illinois. The victim, 41, was hit so hard that it took several minutes before his body was located, and it was almost 10 hours before his foot was found by police in a yard near the crash.

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A defendant appealed his DUI conviction under the theory that evidence of his prior DUI conviction was wrongfully admitted at trial. In June, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled on the case for the second time. At the core of the issue was the mechanism lower courts use to decide the admissibility of extrinsic act evidence under Rules 404(b) and 403 of the Georgia Evidence Code. While these laws do not apply in Illinois, the case is still instructive for people charged with an Illinois DUI in terms of showing the importance of evidence admissibility issues.

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Rule 404(b) provides that evidence of other crimes should not be admissible to prove the character of a person in order to show action in conformity therewith. It may be admissible, however, for other reasons, such as opportunity, intent, motive, absence of mistake, or others. The prosecution must provide notice to the defense in advance of trial unless excused by the court.

Rule 403 provides that relevant evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.

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Texas residents with DUI records might soon be able to seal their records. House Bill 3016, also known as the “second-chance” bill, will allow many first-time, low-level offenders to keep their criminal records from being made public. This makes it easier for people to apply for jobs if they have low-level offenses on their records and have shown that they are unlikely to reoffend.

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In addition to DUI defendants, the bill protects people convicted of some felonies involving small amounts of marijuana. Eligible individuals can petition the court for orders of nondisclosure, and the bill alters some waiting periods. If the offense was a misdemeanor punishable only by a fine, the petitioner may request an order of nondisclosure immediately upon the date their sentence is completed. If the misdemeanor was not punishable by a fine only, however, they must wait until the second anniversary of the date of the completion of their sentence to petition the court.

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A New Jersey resident allegedly contracted MRSA after being forced to take a urine sample following her 2012 DUI arrest. She recently received $140,000 to settle her ensuing lawsuit against Ocean City, two police officers, Shore Medical Center, and two nurses. The case alleged illegal search and seizure, due process violations, malicious prosecution, negligence, conspiracy, excessive force, assault, informed consent, and battery.

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In the lawsuit, filed in New Jersey United District Court in July 2014, she claimed she was infected with the antibiotic and bacteria-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in July 2012 after being pulled over for DUI. She claimed that during her arrest, an Ocean City police officer attempted to administer several field sobriety tests. The driver claimed that she fell asleep in the car on the way to the police station, and the officer did not detect any odor of alcohol on her during the investigation or the ride to the police station.

The driver explained that she could not take a Breathalyzer due to her chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She was then given 10 cups of water in an attempt to have her complete a urine test, but she was unable to urinate, the lawsuit said. She claimed that after being unable to provide a urine sample, she was taken to Shore Medical, where urine and blood samples were extracted without her consent. For the urine sample, nurses inserted a catheter, from which she claimed she contracted MRSA. An Ocean City police officer assisted with the catheterization procedure, leading to the infection, the case said.