Articles Posted in DUI Appeal

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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.

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Generally, in DUI cases, the State’s main witness will be the officer that arrested the defendant. Thus, if the officer is unavailable, the State’s case may fall apart, resulting in the dismissal of the defendant’s charges. This scenario unfolded in Albuquerque recently, when over a dozen DUI cases were dismissed after the officer-involved was fired when it was revealed that he made false statements and arrested people for DUI without cause. If you are charged with an Illinois crime, and you believe your rights may have been violated during your arrest, it is advisable to consult an experienced Illinois DUI attorney about your case.

The Albuquerque Arrests and Dismissals

It is reported that approximately nineteen DUI cases were dismissed after the officer that made the arrests in the cases was terminated for cause. Several other cases are currently under investigation to determine whether they should be dismissed as well. The officer’s termination arose after he arrested a woman for DUI without probable cause. The impetus for his false arrests was not disclosed, and he is currently appealing his termination. It was disclosed, though, that the officer violated procedure and made false statements in the course of the arrest that initially called his integrity into question. Thus, all of the pending charges in which he made the initial arrest are under scrutiny, as the evidence in those cases may be tainted as well.

DUI Arrests in Illinois

Under Illinois law, a person who operates a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or who drives with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher can be charged with a DUI offense. In Illinois, as in other states, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed or a traffic violation has occurred prior to stopping a driver. If an officer stops a person without just cause, the stop may be unconstitutional, and any subsequent detainment may be considered a false arrest. Further, charges that arise out of an improper arrest may constitute malicious prosecution.

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Typically, when a person who has been convicted of a crime is sentenced to probation, the sentencing court will impose certain conditions on the probation, in part to prevent the defendant from engaging in criminal activity. The court does not have boundless discretion with regards to what conditions it may impose, however. Rather, the conditions generally must bear some relationship to the underlying offense as well as to future criminality. If a condition does not fall within these parameters, it may be invalid, as demonstrated in a recent California case in which a court overturned a marijuana-related probation condition following the defendant’s conviction for car theft. If you are charged with an Illinois DUI offense, it is important to understand your rights, and you should confer with a trusted Illinois DUI defense attorney regarding your charges.

The California Case

It is alleged that the defendant was arrested for taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent and receiving a stolen vehicle. He pled guilty to the first count, and the second count was dismissed. Prior to sentencing, he admitted that he smoked marijuana occasionally and had smoked it on the day of his arrest. He was sentenced to probation, and one of his probation conditions prohibited him from smoking marijuana and required him to submit to chemical testing. He appealed, arguing that the marijuana-related conditions were invalid. The appellate court agreed, noting that a condition is invalid if it has no relationship to the underlying crime, relates to conduct that is not criminal, and forbids or requires conduct that is not related to future criminality. As the defendant’s crime was not related to drug use, and it was not illegal to consume marijuana in California, the court found that he had proved each prong of the test. As such, the conditions related to marijuana were found to be improper and were stricken.

Illinois Law Regarding Probation Conditions

Similar to California, Illinois law requires that for a probation condition to be valid, it must reasonably relate to the state’s interest in rehabilitation and reformation. In other words, a condition that burdens the exercise of a fundamental constitutional right must be narrowly tailored to focus on the goal of rehabilitation. As such, a condition will be deemed overly broad if it restricts a defendant’s rights more than is necessary. Generally, this means that the condition must relate to the criminal nature of the underlying offense. While earlier cases ruled on in Illinois included marijuana-related probation conditions, they were issued for crimes committed prior to the legalization of recreational marijuana use. As such, going forward, a defendant would likely have strong arguments that a marijuana-related probation condition is invalid.

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The United States Constitution affords people in every state numerous rights, including the right against unreasonable search and seizure. What constitutes a violation of that right varies, but in many states, a person cannot be arrested for a misdemeanor crime absent a warrant or an observation by a police officer of the person committing the crime, and any evidence produced after the arrest may be dismissed. This was demonstrated recently in Idaho, in a case in which felony DUI charges were dismissed due to the unlawful nature of the misdemeanor DUI arrest that led to the felony charge. If you were recently charged with DUI in Illinois following an arrest, it is prudent to speak to an experienced Illinois DUI defense attorney to determine whether your arrest was improper and whether you may be able to avoid a conviction.

The Idaho Case

Reportedly, the police received a call regarding an erratic driver that was allegedly intoxicated. Subsequently, the police observed the defendant’s vehicle, which was parked in the defendant’s driveway. The defendant was not in his vehicle at the time. The defendant was arrested for misdemeanor DUI and transported to the police station, where he underwent a breath test. Following the breath test, it was revealed that the defendant had prior DUI convictions, and therefore, his charge was increased to a felony.

The defendant filed a motion to suppress the results of his breath test, arguing it constituted an illegal search and seizure as, under Idaho law, an officer cannot arrest a person for a misdemeanor absent an observation of a crime or a warrant. The court granted the motion and ultimately dismissed the felony DUI charge, due to the fact that the misdemeanor arrest was illegal, as the officer did not have a warrant or observe any illegal activity.

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When most people contemplate what constitutes grounds to charge a person with DUI, they think of driving while intoxicated due to the consumption of alcohol. In many states, however, a person can be convicted of DUI for driving while under the influence of other substances, such as illicit or prescription drugs. In some cases, misinterpretation of DUI laws allowing for charges to arise out of driving while under the influence of drugs leads to absurd results, as demonstrated in a recent Pennsylvania case in which a man was convicted of DUI for having metabolites of a prescribed narcotic in his system, despite the fact that it was not illegal to drive under the influence of the narcotic. If you live in Illinois and were charged with a DUI due to evidence of metabolites in your blood, you should consult a seasoned Illinois DUI defense attorney regarding what actions you can take to protect your rights.

Facts of the Pennsylvania Case

Allegedly, the police responded to a call from the defendant’s father, who observed the defendant’s car in his driveway but could not find the defendant. The police ultimately found the defendant by a ravine in his parent’s backyard. He appeared intoxicated and admitted to consuming several beers after he arrived at his parents’ house, to build up the courage to tell his parents his father had terminal cancer. He was arrested for DUI and transported to a police station, where he underwent a blood test that revealed, in part, metabolites of fentanyl in his blood.

It is reported that the defendant was subsequently charged with multiple DUI offenses, including DUI-metabolite. Following a trial, he was convicted of DUI-metabolite, after which he appealed. Upon consideration of the evidence on appeal, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction, finding that the defendant could not be found guilty of DUI for driving with the metabolite of a prescribed substance in his blood when driving while under the influence of the controlled substance was not illegal.

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It is not uncommon for a person that observes someone driving erratically to call 911 to report reckless driving. If a police officer stops a driver based on an anonymous tip, however, and the driver is subsequently charged with DUI, an issue often arises regarding whether a 911 call in and of itself is grounds for reasonable suspicion that a crime or traffic violation was committed. Despite a United States Supreme Court ruling addressing the issue of whether an anonymous tip is sufficient to warrant a traffic stop, the law largely remains unsettled throughout the country as shown by a recent Ohio case in which the court stated it would hear oral arguments regarding whether a bystander’s warning is adequate cause for effectuating a traffic stop. If you were charged with DUI in Illinois after being stopped due to a 911 call, it is prudent to speak with an assertive Illinois DUI defense attorney to discuss your rights.

Facts of the Ohio Case

Allegedly, the defendant was stopped by a police officer and charged with DUI after a passerby yelled to the officer that the defendant was drunk. In response to the assertion, the officer stopped the defendant and noticed she had signs of intoxication, including slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and an odor of alcohol. The passerby was never identified. The defendant argued that the stop was not justified, as the officer was only acting on an anonymous tip of uncertain reliability and, therefore, did not have reasonable suspicion that the defendant was committing a crime. The lower courts found in favor of the defendant, noting that the tip lacked any details regarding why the passerby believed the defendant was intoxicated.

Rulings Regarding DUI Arrests Arising Out of Anonymous Tips

In Navarette v. California, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a tip provided by an anonymous source in a 911 call was sufficiently reliable to justify a traffic stop, as it provided details regarding the make and model of the car and details regarding the fact that the car was being driven erratically. The Court further stated that because the call made through the 911 system it was reliable because the calls are recorded, and people may be prosecuted for making false reports.

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One of the tenets of DUI law throughout the country is that the police must have reasonable suspicion that a person operating a vehicle committed a crime or violated a traffic law prior to effectuating a traffic stop. Thus, if an officer lacks sufficient grounds to stop a motorist, any evidence obtained during the stop may be precluded at a subsequent DUI trial. What constitutes sufficient grounds to effectuate a stop varies from State to State, but generally, more than mere suspicion is required, as demonstrated in a recent Pennsylvania case. If you live in Illinois and were stopped without just cause and subsequently charged with a DUI crime, it is in your best interest to speak with a trusted Illinois DUI attorney regarding your potential defenses.

Details of the Pennsylvania Case

Allegedly, an officer stopped the defendant due to a “hunch” that she was doing something illegal. Specifically, the officer, who was dispatched on another call, stopped the defendant because he believed she was trying to evade him because she turned several times. The officer admitted, however, that the defendant did not exhibit any signs of intoxication while driving, did not violate any traffic laws, and there were no defects on her car that would cause suspicion. Following the stop, the defendant was charged with and convicted of DUI. After her conviction, she appealed, arguing that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to stop her. The appellate court overturned her conviction and remanded the case to the lower court, ordering suppression of the evidence obtained during the stop.

Reasonable Suspicion Under Illinois Law

Under Illinois law, stopping a vehicle is considered a search and seizure. For a stop to be lawful, an Illinois police officer must possess a rational belief that the person stopped has committed or intends to commit a crime. The suspicion must be both articulable and reasonable. In other words, a totality of the facts present at the time of the stop must be sufficient to inspire the belief in a person of ordinary caution that the stop was appropriate, which requires more than a hunch or vague suspicion that criminal activity has occurred or is about to occur. While Illinois does not have a bright-line rule for whether a stop is reasonable, and each case is evaluated on its particular facts, it is likely that in Illinois a stop based on a hunch, with no evidence of illegal activity or a violation of a traffic law, would be deemed improper.

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