Articles Posted in DUI Appeal

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In Illinois and most other states, people can be arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol, no matter how short of a journey they take. In some instances, though, extenuating circumstances may make a court view acts that are grounds for a DUI arrest more leniently. This was demonstrated in a recent California case in which the court dismissed DUI charges against a woman who drove 30 feet as she was attempting to flee an abusive boyfriend. If you are faced with accusations that you drove while intoxicated, you should meet with an Illinois DUI defense lawyer to determine your options.

The California DUI Case

It is reported that a California judge dismissed a DUI case against a woman who was charged with a misdemeanor DUI for driving 30 feet to escape an abusive boyfriend. The woman had called the police after being threatened and hit by her boyfriend, but officers left her with him in his van. Later, fearing for her safety, she moved her car to a different parking spot and was arrested for DUI. The initial trial ended in a mistrial when the jury could not agree on her culpability. The District Attorney’s Office sought a retrial, but the woman’s lawyer argued that she had moved her car out of necessity to protect herself.

Allegedly, the judge agreed with the woman’s lawyer and dismissed the case, citing the necessity defense, which is akin to self-defense in murder trials. The judge believed that the woman had acted out of necessity due to the danger she faced from her abusive boyfriend. He noted that while DUI is a serious offense, the circumstances mattered, and the woman had only driven a short distance late at night in an almost empty parking lot at low speed. Continue reading →

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Like all criminal defendants, people charged with DUI crimes have the right to a speedy trial. Among other things, the right to a speedy trial aims to prevent the spoliation of potentially exculpatory evidence. Even if critical evidence is lost during a delay in bringing a defendant to trial, though, it does not necessarily mean that the charges against the defendant should be dismissed. This was illustrated recently in a DUI case arising out of Oregon, in which the court found that the delay in question was unreasonable but ultimately not the cause of the destruction of evidence. If you are accused of commiting a DUI crime, it is in your best interest to confer with an Illinois DUI defense lawyer about your possible defenses.

The Oregon Case

It is reported that the defendant was arrested, booked, and charged by the state for DUI, which was classified as a misdemeanor offense. Five days after he was charged, the prosecutor dismissed the charges against him so that it could investigate whether he had any other DUI convictions that would increase the DUI to a felony.

Allegedly, the defendant was indicted on a felony DUI charge six weeks later. By then, the video taken from the jail on the night of the defendant’s arrest and booking had been overwritten. The defendant moved for dismissal of the charges against him, arguing that the video may have contained evidence in his favor and his inability to use the video was prejudicial. The court denied his motion, and he appealed. On appeal, the court affirmed the decision on the grounds that, while the absence of the video may have been prejudicial, the defendant failed to show that the destruction of the video was caused by the prosecution’s delays. Continue reading →

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Over the past few decades, states throughout the country have been legalizing medical and recreational marijuana use. Many states have subsequently altered their DUI laws as well to define the legal limits of marijuana with regard to the operation of motor vehicles on public roads. Determining how to investigate and prosecute marijuana-based DUI offenses has proved challenging for many states, as the process of evaluating impairment is not as straightforward as it is in cases involving alcohol use. Recently, however, professors at UCLA have made strides in developing a marijuana breathalyzer that they believe will cut down on unjust arrests. If you are accused of driving while under the influence of marijuana in Illinois, it is critical to confer with an Illinois DUI defense attorney regarding your options for protecting your rights.

The Marijuana Breathalyzer

It is reported that currently, marijuana is a Schedule I drug under federal law, which is the same Schedule as heroin and a higher Schedule than fentanyl. Approximately 20 states have legalized recreational marijuana use, though, and many other states permit medical marijuana use. The decriminalization of marijuana use has presented legal and scientific challenges with regard to the prosecution of DUI crimes, including how to accurately determine whether a driver is impaired due to marijuana use, as a person can test positive for marijuana days after they have ingested it.

Allegedly, though, UCLA chemistry professors believe they have uncovered a method for THC detection, however, similar to a breathalyzer test, that would provide more precise results and presumably cut down on DUI arrests and convictions for people who had positive THC levels while driving but were not actually impaired by marijuana use. It will likely be several years before the test will be available for use by law enforcement agencies, though. Continue reading →

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Due to relatively recent rulings by the United States Supreme Court, the police have to obtain a warrant to compel a DUI defendant to submit to a blood test. Nonetheless, law enforcement agents will sometimes try to circumvent the warrant requirement with a compulsory blood draw. While the results of such tests are generally inadmissible, it is not always clear whether they can be introduced at trial if the forced draw occurred after the police obtained a warrant. Recently, a Colorado court addressed this issue, ultimately ruling that the Colorado law requiring express consent to obtain a blood test from a DUI defendant only applied in cases without a warrant, but it is unclear how Illinois and other states will handle such issues. If you are charged with a DUI crime in Illinois, it is in your best interest to meet with an Illinois DUI defense attorney to discuss your possible defenses.

The Colorado Case

It is reported that a police officer responded to a report that a car was illegally parked in a handicapped parking spot. When the officer approached the car, he found the defendant sitting in the driver’s seat with the engine running. The officer spoke with the defendant, who exhibited visible signs of intoxication and smelled like alcohol but denied drinking. The officer asked the defendant to submit to field sobriety tests, but he declined.

Allegedly, the officer arrested the defendant for DUI and, pursuant to Colorado’s expressed consent law, asked him to submit to a blood or breath test. The defendant refused, and after learning the defendant had multiple DUI convictions, the officer sought and obtained a warrant to conduct a blood draw. The defendant still refused to cooperate, and his blood was forcefully drawn. The results of the test showed his BAC was well over the legal limit. The defendant was charged with felony DUI but moved to suppress the results of his test. The court denied his motion, and after he was convicted, he appealed. The court of appeals ruled in his favor, but the state supreme court reversed, finding that the expressed consent law barring forced blood draws did not apply when the draw was conducted pursuant to a warrant. Continue reading →

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In Wisconsin, as in many states, people face increased penalties for each subsequent DUI conviction after their first. In other words, a person found guilty of a fifth DUI offense can receive a harsher sentence than a person convicted of a fourth DUI offense. Until recently, Wisconsin law permitted prior license revocations for refusal to submit to chemical testing as a prior conviction for the purpose of increasing DUI penalties. The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently deemed the scheme unconstitutional, however, as it imposed criminal penalties on people who exercised their right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. As in Wisconsin, people convicted of multiple DUI crimes in Illinois face increased penalties, and it is smart for anyone charged with a second or higher DUI offense to consult a trusted Illinois DUI defense lawyer regarding their rights.

The Wisconsin Ruling

In the case that brought about the ruling, the defendant was charged with a DUI, which was his sixth offense. He had his driving privileges previously revoked for refusing to submit to a warrantless blood draw when he was stopped for suspicion of DUI, however. As such, following his conviction, he was sentenced for a seventh DUI crime, which carried greater penalties than a sixth offense, in accordance with Wisconsin’s increased penalty scheme. He subsequently appealed.

It is reported that the Wisconsin Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the statutory construction permitting the courts to count the revocation of driving privileges for refusing to submit to a blood draw in the absence of a warrant as a criminal offense for the purposes of increasing penalties for repeat DUI offenders was unconstitutional. Continue reading →

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Many people believe that, to a certain extent, behavior that may be illegal in a public place is lawful within the confines of their private property. For example, they may drive their cars around their property after consuming alcohol without considering that it may be prohibited. In some states, though, a person can be charged with a DUI offense for operating a vehicle while intoxicated on private property. Wisconsin is not one of those states, however, but that did not stop a man from being convicted for operating a vehicle while intoxicated in his own driveway. While Illinois’ DUI law differs from Wisconsin’s, it is important for anyone accused of a DUI offense to understand the elements of the crime and their potential defenses. If you are charged with a DUI, you should contact a knowledgeable Illinois DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible to assess your possible defenses.

The Wisconsin Case

Reportedly, police in Kenosha, Wisconsin visited the defendant’s home in response to a complaint from a neighbor, who stated the defendant was driving around intoxicated. When they arrived, they observed the defendant sitting in his car in his driveway. He smelled like alcohol and admitted to drinking alcohol in his house but refused to submit to breath or field sobriety tests. He was arrested and a warrant was obtained for a blood test. The results of the test revealed his BAC to be 0.214.

Allegedly, the defendant was subsequently charged with and convicted of DUI. He appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erroneously denied his motion to suppress the results of his blood test, as there was no evidence that he committed a crime. The court denied his appeal, stating that reasonable inferences allowed for the assumption that he drove on a public road. The court noted, however, that it was not unlawful to operate a vehicle while intoxicated on private property. Continue reading →

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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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