Articles Posted in Chemical Testing

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Relatively recently, the United States Supreme Court ruled that warrantless blood tests violate the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. The landscape of DUI law across the country changed in response to the Court’s ruling and continues to evolve, as demonstrated in a recent ruling issued by the Kentucky Supreme Court, in which it held that the refusal to submit to a warrantless blood test could not be used against a DUI defendant. While the ruling does not impact the law in Illinois, it provides insight into how DUI laws throughout the country may progress in the future. If you are charged with a DUI crime, it is smart to meet with a trusted Illinois DUI defense lawyer to assess your options for seeking a just outcome.

The Kentucky Ruling

Reportedly, the Kentucky Supreme Court recently issued a ruling clarifying the status of DUI law throughout the state. Specifically, it upheld a state appellate court decision vacating a man’s DUI conviction, where the state relied on his refusal to submit to a warrantless blood test as evidence of his guilt. The Kentucky Supreme Court noted that courts throughout the state rejected the United States Supreme Court ruling dictating that the police must obtain warrants for blood tests, stating that the ruling did not apply in their courts.

The Kentucky Supreme Court made it abundantly clear, however, that the state courts must abide by the Supreme Court ruling and could not use a DUI defendant’s refusal to submit to a blood test as evidence of guilt. The court pointed out that currently, the law in Kentucky requires proof of injury or death to obtain a warrant for suspected DUI. Thus, it is anticipated that law enforcement agencies will pressure the legislature to modify the laws in the near future. Continue reading →

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Many states have implied consent laws that provide that licensed drivers must agree to submit to breath tests. As such, if people suspected of DUI refuse to provide breath samples, they often face additional charges and civil penalties. While typically, the failure to conduct a breath test is due to the lack of a driver’s consent, in Colorado, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the unusual situation of police officers refusing to conduct breath tests, which has resulted in the dismissal of many DUI charges. If you are charged with a DUI crime in Illinois, it is wise to speak to a skillful Illinois DUI lawyer about your rights.

COVID-19 Related DUI Complications in Colorado

Allegedly, multiple people charged with DUI crimes in Colorado have had their cases dismissed due to the fact that the police investigating the offenses refused to provide suspects with breath tests. The basis for the refusal was the belief that conducting the tests posed health risks due to the potential of the spread of the coronavirus. While the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has advised that officers can safely conduct such tests during the pandemic, many police agencies in the state are ignoring the Department’s advice and declining to conduct such tests.

It is reported that defense attorneys in Colorado have used the police’s refusal to provide breath tests against the state, arguing that it violates defendants’ rights and should result in the dismissal of charges. Specifically, under Colorado law, drivers suspected of operating a vehicle while intoxicated must be provided the choice of a breath or blood test unless a test is not available because of extraordinary circumstances. Subsequently, there are multiple instances where the court ultimately dismissed DUI charges against drivers who requested breath tests but were denied. Continue reading →

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Most DUI charges arise out of the use of cars, trucks, and SUVs on public highways. DUI statutes are not always limited to the operation of standard vehicles, though, but often apply to the use of any motor vehicle on a public road. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling, in which a man was charged with DUI manslaughter after a crash that occurred when he was operating an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) on a highway with a blood alcohol level that was over the legal limit. In many states, including Illinois, the laws are similar, and a person can be charged for operating an ATV while intoxicated. If you are charged with a DUI crime, it is advisable to meet with a knowledgeable Illinois DUI defense lawyer to assess your potential defenses.

The Florida DUI Conviction Arising Out of ATV Use

Reportedly, a Florida appellate court recently upheld the DUI manslaughter conviction of a man whose son died following an accident involving an ATV. It appears that the man was riding an ATV on a public road with his minor son on the back when it fell into a ditch. The man was able to return the ATV to an upright position, and he and his son were sitting on the ATV when it was struck by another motorist. The man suffered injuries in the collision, and his son tragically died.

Allegedly, testing revealed that the man’s blood alcohol level exceeded the legal limit. He was subsequently charged with DUI with property damage and DUI manslaughter. During the trial, the defendant argued that there was inadequate evidence to show that he was physically in control of the ATV at the time of the accident, but he was convicted as charged. He appealed; however, his convictions were affirmed on appeal. Continue reading →

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While in many states, the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes is legal, a person may nonetheless be charged with a DUI for operating a vehicle while impaired because of the use of marijuana. The police must have grounds to arrest a person for a DUI, though, and it is unlikely that mere possession of marijuana is sufficient. This was demonstrated recently in Houston, where a driver admitted to possessing marijuana when he was pulled over for speeding tragically collided with another vehicle after he was stopped, killing a mother and three children. If you are charged with a DUI crime, it is smart to speak to a dedicated Illinois DUI defense attorney regarding your rights.

The Texas Accident

It is reported that a man in Houston was stopped by a police officer for speeding. The officer stated that during the traffic stop, he did not observe any visible signs of impairment. The driver did admit that he had marijuana, however, which he surrendered to the officer. Thirty minutes after he was stopped, he rear-ended a car at a high rate of speed. The woman in the car and her three children ultimately died due to injuries suffered in the accident. The driver was arrested, but it is unclear what charges he is facing. Authorities are reportedly testing the small amount of marijuana he relinquished, and the driver may face criminal charges pending the outcome of the testing.

Illinois DUI Charges Related to Marijuana Use

In Illinois, it is legal to use marijuana for recreational purposes. That does not mean, though, that there are no restrictions regarding its use. First, only adults are legally permitted to ingest marijuana for recreational use. Additionally, people who use marijuana and then drive may be charged with DUI crimes. Specifically, under Illinois’ DUI statute, it is unlawful to operate a vehicle while impaired due to the use of marijuana, and people who do so may face DUI charges. Continue reading →

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The majority of DUI charges and convictions arise out of the results of a blood or breath test that is administered by the police during traffic stops. In many cases, the court and prosecution take for granted that the results of such tests are accurate, but that is not always the case, as improperly calibrated machines can lead to false readings. Convictions based on inaccurate breath test results may be overturned, though, as demonstrated in Massachusetts, where thousands of people recently received notices they may be eligible for new trials. If you are accused of a DUI offense, it is prudent to engage a skillful Illinois DUI defense attorney to assess the sufficiency of the State’s evidence in your case.

Notices Issued in Massachusetts

Reportedly, close to thirty-thousand people in Massachusetts were recently advised that they may be eligible for new trials in their DUI cases due to problems with the evidence used against them. Notably, the notices were sent out almost a year after the underlying issue came to light. Specifically, in 2019, the State became aware that officials working in the State Police lab permitted improperly calibrated machines to be used to administer breath tests to people suspected of DUI crimes. Further, the officials then attempted to hide the full extent of the issue.

As a result, anyone who admitted to the sufficiency of facts or pleaded guilty in a DUI case between June 2011 and April 2019 may be eligible for a new trial. The notices advise the people impacted by the recent discovery that their cases may have been tainted by the devices, and they have grounds to challenge the rulings against them. Continue reading →

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In the majority of DUI investigations, the investigating officer will administer a breath test to the DUI suspect via a breathalyzer machine. Thus, the prosecution’s sole or primary evidence in many DUI cases are the results of a breath test. Accordingly, the results must be accurate. Recently, however, it came to light that the breathalyzer machines used by Michigan police may be compromised, affecting hundreds of cases. Further, there are questions regarding it represents a conflict of interest for the police to be conducting the probe into the matter. While the outcome of the Michigan investigation remains to be seen, it is prudent for anyone charged with DUI in Illinois following a breath test to speak with a trusted Illinois DUI attorney to discuss what defenses may be available.

Michigan Breathalyzer Probe

Reportedly, the Michigan State Police recently stopped using over two hundred breathalyzer machines, due to the fact that the contractor that calibrates the machines is accused of fraud. Thus, the State Police began conducting a criminal investigation into the contractor and noted issues with the performance of many breathalyzer machines. As a result, many police agencies currently have to use blood tests rather than breath tests in the investigation of DUIs, which means both greater resources and time have to be devoted to DUI arrests.

The issue, which may stem back to 2018, is not only draining the resources of police throughout the state, it has also called into question whether the police should be conducting the investigation into one of their own contractors. Specifically, many criminal defense attorneys believe an independent investigation is necessary to determine the scope of the issue, and to protect the rights of criminal defendants whose cases may be affected by the results of the investigation. Others have stated that allowing the police to conduct the investigation essentially allows them to determine whether the contractor the police hired violated the law.

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It is a well-known fact that people taken into custody by the police must be advised of their right against self-incrimination via Miranda warnings. In some instances, however, an issue arises as to what constitutes a person being taken into police custody for purposes of evaluating whether incriminating statements should be precluded. Recently, two courts tasked with addressing this issue came to different conclusions, highlighting the inconsistencies of the rulings throughout the nation. If you live in Illinois and are charged with a DUI, it is essential to retain an assertive Illinois DUI attorney to aid you in protecting your rights.

Nevada Decision Regarding Incriminating Statements

Reportedly, in a recent Nevada appellate court case, the court addressed whether a defendant’s incriminating statements should be admissible at trial. In that case, the defendant was stopped by police while he was at a convenience store because he looked like someone the police were trying to find. He was removed from the store and questioned by the police, during which he admitted to drinking and driving. He was then arrested for DUI. He filed a motion to suppress his statements, which the trial court granted. The State appealed.

On appeal, it was noted that the defendant was not advised that he was not under arrest, and the court found that he was in custody for practical purposes. Thus, he should have been read his Miranda rights. As such, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

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The United States Constitution grants individuals the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Recently, the United States Supreme Court held this right to include the right to be free from warrantless blood tests, in Birchfield v. North Dakota. The Birchfield ruling did not permanently resolve the issue of whether evidence obtained via a warrantless blood test is admissible, however, as courts throughout the country have carved out exceptions to the rule. This was illustrated in a recent case decided by the Nebraska Supreme Court, in which the court ruled that under the good faith exception to the Fourth Amendment, results from a warrantless blood test could be admitted into evidence. If you live in Illinois and face DUI charges due to a warrantless blood test it is imperative to retain a skilled Illinois DUI attorney to fight to protect your rights.

The Nebraska Case

Reportedly, police were called to the scene of a car accident in the early evening in August 2017. Upon arrival, they observed the defendant slumped over behind the driver’s seat of his vehicle. He was transported to the hospital via ambulance and did not submit to any chemical or field sobriety testing at the scene. One of the officers submitted an affidavit to obtain a search warrant for a blood draw from the defendant, due to the suspicion the defendant was driving under the influence. The county court issued the warrant, after which the police traveled to the hospital. The defendant willingly submitted to a breath test, which showed his BAC to be almost twice the legal limit. He was then served the search warrant, after which his blood was drawn. The defendant’s blood alcohol level was .168. Following his release from the  hospital, he was arrested for driving under the influence.

It is alleged that after the defendant was charged with driving under the influence, he filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained via the search warrant on the grounds that the warrant was invalid. Specifically, the defendant argued that the affidavit in support of the warrant failed to establish probable cause that the defendant was engaging in criminal activity. The trial court denied the motion, finding that the affidavit was sufficient. A trial was held, and the defendant was convicted, after which he appealed. On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling, and noted that the good faith exception to the Fourth Amendment applied. The defendant appealed, and the Supreme Court of Nebraska moved the case to its docket. Continue reading →

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Following the Birchfield ruling, if a person is arrested for suspicion of DUI the arresting officer can only conduct a warrantless blood test on the person if he or she consents to the test, otherwise it constitutes an unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the 4thAmendment of the United States Constitution. The Birchfield ruling has caused a ripple effect throughout the country, as courts continue to analyze how it impacts issues of consent in DUI cases. For example, the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently addressed the issue of whether chemical testing that is conducted after the defendant’s consent is withdrawn constitutes an unreasonable search. If you live in Illinois and are facing DUI charges following a warrantless blood test it is crucial to retain a seasoned Illinois DUI attorney to help you formulate a defense.

Underlying Facts and Ruling

Reportedly, the defendant was arrested for operating her vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. She consented to submit to a blood test but withdrew her consent after the blood was drawn before any chemical testing was performed and demanded that the destruction of her sample. The blood was tested regardless, however. Prior to trial, the defendant filed a motion to suppress the results of her drug test, arguing that the test was an unreasonable search and seizure in violation of her constitutional rights, due to the fact the testing was conducted after she withdrew her consent. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion. The State appealed the trial court’s ruling and on appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision. The State then appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, who reversed the trial court decision.

In issuing its decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court stated that there was only one search conducted, which was the blood draw to which the defendant consented. The court held that the search ended when the blood draw was completed, and the subsequent testing of the blood did not constitute a second search. Further, the court stated a defendant arrested for driving while intoxicated has no privacy interest in the amount of alcohol in a blood sample. Therefore, the court held that the defendant’s right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure were not violated by the testing of her blood and reversed the trial court ruling.
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The protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibit the police from subjecting a person to an unreasonable search or seizure. In DUI cases, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures has been interpreted to prevent the police from subjecting a person to a blood test without a warrant, unless the person consents to the test. Typically, this means that the results of any blood test taken without a warrant or valid consent would be suppressed.

There are exceptions to the rule, however, as shown in a recent case in which the Arizona Supreme Court upheld a DUI conviction of a woman regardless of the fact that her blood test was not voluntary, on the basis that the police believed they were acting in good faith. Even though the decision is not precedential outside of Arizona, cases that interpret a person’s rights with regards to chemical testing continue to affect the landscape of DUI law throughout the country. If you are charged with DUI in Illinois, it is prudent to meet with an experienced Illinois DUI defense attorney to discuss what evidence the State may be able to use against you.

The Defendant’s Blood Test

The defendant was arrested on suspicion of DUI. The arresting officer read the defendant a form that stated that under Arizona law, she was required to submit to a blood test. The defendant then submitted to testing. She was subsequently charged with aggravated DUI. Prior to trial, she moved to have the results of the blood test suppressed on the grounds that her consent was coerced. Her motion was denied and she was convicted of aggravated DUI, after which she appealed.

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