Articles Posted in DUI Appeal

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Until recently, Illinois Rules of Evidence 803(6) prohibited the state from introducing medical records in criminal cases. The Illinois Supreme Court took the extraordinary measure of amending Rule 803(6) in a recent DWI case, however, effectively changing the landscape for the prosecution of DWI crimes for years to come. If you are faced with DWI charges, it is in your best interest to meet with an Illinois DWI defense attorney to assess your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was involved in a collision and then taken to the hospital, where his blood was drawn. The police believed he caused the crash by driving while intoxicated, and he was subsequently charged with aggravated DWI.  During his trial, the state introduced the results of a chemical blood test that was taken at the hospital into evidence.

Allegedly, the test results, which revealed his BAC to be .247, were admitted under 625 ILCS 5/11-501.4, which permits the state to admit chemical blood tests conducted in the course of emergency medical care as a business record exception to the rule against hearsay. He was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing that Rule 803(6) prohibited the introduction of medical records in criminal matters. The appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling, and the defendant appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court. Continue reading →

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Many states have implied consent laws. In other words, when a person obtains a driver’s license, the law states that they impliedly consent to submit to a breath test if they are under investigation for DUI. In many states, if a person suspected of DUI refuses to provide a breath sample, they can lose their driving privileges. Typically, the police must warn a driver of the consequences of the failure to abide by the implied consent law, but if the suspect does not understand the officer due to a language barrier, the warning may be ineffective. This was demonstrated recently in a Pennsylvania DUI case. The court ultimately ruled that the defendant could not face penalties for refusing to submit to a breath test because he did not understand English. If you are charged with the refusal to provide a breath sample or a DUI crime in Illinois, it is smart to speak to an Illinois DUI defense regarding your options for seeking a favorable outcome.

The Pennsylvania Case

It is reported that a police officer observed the defendant driving erratically and therefore initiated a traffic stop. The officer attempted to question the defendant, who does not speak English. He noticed the defendant smelled of alcohol, and his eyes were bloodshot and glazed. He tried to ask the defendant if he drank alcohol that evening and, if so, how much, using hand signals. The defendant responded with hand signals, stating he had three drinks.

Allegedly, the officer requested that the defendant submit to a breath test. The defendant said no, and the officer read him the O’Connell warning, which informs DUI suspects of the consequences of failing to submit to a breath test, as required by Pennsylvania law. The defendant was ultimately found guilty of refusing to submit to a breath test and lost his driving privileges. He appealed on the grounds that his refusal was not informed and knowing as he did not speak English. The appellate court ultimately ruled in his favor and stated that the onus was on the police to make sure DUI suspects understood the consequences of failing to abide by the implied consent law. Continue reading →

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While the connection between DUI crimes and infrastructure seems tenuous at best, they are related in some respect. For example, in Missouri, a law that, in theory, increases the likelihood of DUI offenses triggered a shift of government funds from highway construction and repair to safety, resulting in a reduction in fatalities. Specifically, under Missouri law, it is not illegal to have open containers of alcohol in a vehicle. It is illegal under federal law, though, and the conflict has caused the subsequent diversion of funds. While the Missouri law has no impact in Illinois, it is relevant to the question of how the modification of laws relating to DUI crimes impacts other facets of the state government. If you are faced with charges that you committed a DUI crime in Illinois, it is wise to contact an Illinois DUI defense lawyer to determine your rights.

The Ramifications of Missouri’s Open Container Laws

Missouri differs from many states in that it has not criminalized the act of driving a car with an open container of alcohol in the passenger area. While it is lawful to have open alcoholic beverages in a car under Missouri law, it violates federal safety statutes. As such, since 2001, a substantial portion of federal funds that would typically be used for highway construction and repairs have been diverted to safety programs. In total, approximately $370 million in funds have been reallocated.

While many people would expect that Missouri’s lack of an open container law would lead to increased DUI-related fatalities, the opposite seems to be true. In fact, while the national rate of motor vehicle fatalities fell by 14% between 2001 and 2019, Missouri’s rate of traffic fatalities fell by 20% during the same period. Continue reading →

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People accused of committing DUI offenses, like all criminal defendants, are afforded numerous rights under the United States Constitution. For example, under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment, they have the right to examine their accusers at trial. If the State violates a criminal defendant’s Constitutional rights, the violation may constitute grounds for an appeal. The question of whether the use of two-way video conferencing violated the rights granted under the Confrontation Clause was the topic of a recent ruling issued in Montana. While the opinion does not impact the prosecution of DUI cases in Illinois, it provides insight into how courts may rule on similar issues. If you are accused of a DUI crime, it is smart to meet with an Illinois DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your rights.

The Montana Case

It is reported that the defendant was stopped by the police for suspicion of a DUI. He was subsequently arrested and charged with DUI. The case proceeded to trial before a jury. The arresting officer was not present in the courtroom during the trial but appeared via two-way video. The jury convicted the defendant, and he appealed, arguing, in part, that the court violated his right to confrontation by permitting the officer to testify through two-way video conferencing instead of appearing in court in person.

The court agreed, noting that in criminal prosecutions, defendants have the right to meet the State’s witnesses face to face and to fully examine them. The court elaborated that confrontation ensures that the evidence offered against a defendant is reliable. Thus, pursuant to Montana’s confrontation clause, witnesses may only testify via two-way video when securing the witness’ presence is impossible or impractical. The court ultimately found that the State failed to prove that the use of two-way video was warranted.  As such, it reversed the defendant’s conviction. Continue reading →

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In any criminal matter, the prosecution bears the burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, each element of the underlying offense. Thus, if the government cannot establish the corpus delecti or body of the crime, it should not be able to obtain a conviction. An Illinois appellate court recently discussed the concept of corpus delecti in a case in which it reversed the defendant’s DUI conviction. If you are faced with charges, you committed a DUI crime, it is important to speak to a Illinois DUI defense lawyer to evaluate what evidence the state must produce to prove your guilt.

The Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the police were dispatched to a courtyard in response to a report of a domestic disturbance. Upon arrival, they found the defendant and two men standing near a car. The defendant indicated she had an argument with her boyfriend and was trying to locate him. She advised the police that she drove the white car to its current location in hopes of finding her boyfriend and then called the police.

Allegedly, when the police spoke with the defendant, they noticed she smelled of alcohol, her eyes were bloodshot, and her speech was slurred. Thus, they administered field sobriety tests. Based on the defendant’s performance on the tests, they arrested her and charged her with DUI. The trial court found her guilty, and she appealed, arguing that the prosecution failed to offer proof of corpus delecti. Continue reading →

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It is the obligation of the police to uphold and enforce the law. Unfortunately, some officers go beyond the scope of their duties in a manner that violates the rights of the suspects they are investigating. For example, it was recently revealed that a police officer in Phoenix was altering police reports to make it more difficult for criminal defendants to prepare their defenses. While the revelation does not impact cases pending in Illinois, it highlights issues in the criminal justice system that can make it difficult for defendants to obtain a fair trial. If you are charged with a DUI offense, it is in your best interest to engage a skilled Illinois DUI defense lawyer to help you fight to protect your rights.

Phoenix DUI Police Officer’s Tactics Called into Question

It is reported that the most senior DUI motorcycle officer on the Phoenix police force engaged in tactics designed to make it more difficult for defense attorneys to defend their clients. Specifically, the officer was caught on camera explaining that in every report issued in a DUI case, he lists any passengers in the suspect’s vehicle as a victim rather than a witness. While Arizona law allows defense attorneys to interview witnesses, it precludes them from interviewing victims.

In many instances, witnesses will be able to offer information indicating that the defendant was not driving erratically or otherwise lacked indications of impairment or reckless driving that would warrant a traffic stop. Thus, the officer manipulated the reports for the sole purpose of making it more difficult for defense attorneys to obtain information in support of their client’s defenses. Continue reading →

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The police generally cannot stop a person absent a suspicion the individual is committing a crime or enter a person’s home without a warrant. There are exceptions to the general rule, however, such as cases in which the police are actively pursuing a criminal suspect who is attempting to evade them. In such instances, a search conducted without a warrant may be deemed proper. A California court recently heard arguments as to whether the hot pursuit exception to the warrant requirement applied in matters involving the investigation of a misdemeanor crime, in a case in which the defendant argued that the search that led to his DUI arrest was unlawful. If you are charged with a DUI offense, it is smart to speak with a dedicated Illinois DUI lawyer to evaluate your options.

The California Arrest

Reportedly, the defendant was playing music loudly and repeatedly honking while driving his car, both of which are misdemeanor offenses. An officer began to follow the defendant but did not activate his lights or sirens. When the defendant arrived at his home, he began to pull into his garage. The officer activated his lights before the defendant’s garage door closed, but the defendant ran into his garage. The officer then activated the door’s sensor with his foot, forcing the door to stay open.

Allegedly, the officer entered the garage and began questioning the defendant. He noticed the defendant smelled like alcohol and subsequently arrested him for DUI. Before the defendant’s trial, he filed a motion to suppress the State’s evidence, arguing the officer’s search violated his Constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure. The court denied his motion on the grounds the officer was in hot pursuit when he conducted the search. The defendant was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing the hot pursuit exception does not apply to misdemeanor crimes. The appeals court upheld his conviction, and he then appealed to the California Supreme Court, which heard arguments on the matter but has not yet issued a ruling. 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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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 theory, police officers should only investigate crimes or make traffic stops due to a reasonable suspicion of unlawful activity. Unfortunately, though, in some cases, the police may have incentives to charge people with criminal offenses other than the desire to uphold the law—for example, some cities reward officers for issuing citations or have rules establishing ticket quotas. As demonstrated in a recent Illinois ruling, such rules are likely to lead to unjust DUI arrests and other citations and are unlawful. If you were charged with a DUI offense, it is prudent to meet with a seasoned Illinois DUI defense attorney to assess your options.

The Ticket Quota

It is alleged that the City of Sparta had a policy in place that assigned points to certain activities and used the points to evaluate the performance of its officers. Under the policy, all full-time police officers were required to meet a monthly points minimum. Officers who worked the night shift were obligated to obtain 65 points, while those working the day shift needed 82 points. Different activities garnered different points, and issuing citations had a two-point value. Officers that failed to meet the minimum monthly points would be disciplined in a progressive manner. Further, points were used to determine the officer of the month and of the year.

Reportedly, the Policeman’s Benevolent Labor Committee (Union) filed a declaratory judgment action seeking an opinion that the activity-points policy established an unlawful ticket quota that violated Section 11-1-12 of the Illinois Municipal Code. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the City of Sparta, and the Union appealed. The appellate court reversed, finding in favor of the Union. The City then appealed.

Continue reading →

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