Articles Posted in Chemical Testing

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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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The laws regarding what evidence may be admitted at a DUI criminal trial continue to change throughout the country. In many states, including Illinois, the laws allow the State to introduce evidence of a defendant’s refusal to submit to a breath test as evidence of guilt at trial. Lately, however, there have been challenges to implied consent statutes and the constitutionality of admitting evidence of a refusal to submit to chemical testing throughout the country.

Recently, in Elliot v. Georgia, the Supreme Court of Georgia held that a Georgia statute which permitted the State to introduce evidence of a defendant’s refusal to submit to a breath test was unconstitutional because it violated the defendant’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. If you are charged with an Illinois DUI, it is important to retain a seasoned Illinois DUI attorney who will aggressively advocate on your behalf to help you retain your rights.

Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Arrest 

Allegedly, the defendant was stopped due to suspicion of DUI. She was arrested, after which she refused to submit to a breath test. Prior to her trial, the defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence of her refusal to submit to chemical testing, arguing that the introduction of the evidence would violate her right against self-incrimination under the Georgia Constitution. The court denied the defendant’s motion, after which she appealed.

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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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