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Illinois Appeals Court Holds Officer Need Not Readvise DUI Defendant of Implied Consent Law Before Blood Test

After failing field sobriety tests, an Illinois defendant was arrested for DUI. At the police station, an officer read the defendant the required admonitions, and the defendant submitted to a breathalyzer test, showing his blood alcohol content was within the legal limit. Then, the officer requested that the defendant submit to blood or urine testing. The defendant refused, and his driver’s license was suspended. He filed a petition to rescind the suspension, which the trial court denied. He appealed, arguing that his petition should have been granted because the officers (1) lacked a reasonable suspicion to request blood or urine testing and (2) failed to issue him a second warning before requesting blood or urine testing. In a case relevant to all Illinois DUI law, this fall, the Illinois Court of Appeals for the Third District affirmed.

At the hearing, the Shorewood police officer testified that while on patrol at around 1:12 a.m. on April 4, 2016, he observed the defendant commit multiple lane violations. The defendant’s vehicle veered toward his patrol car, crossed over the double yellow line three times, veered into the painted median twice, and veered toward the opposite lane of traffic. After observing the defendant commit “approximately five lane violations,” the officer effectuated a traffic stop.

The officer approached and asked the defendant for his license. In attempting to retrieve his license, the defendant’s hands slipped multiple times, and before handing the license to the officer, the defendant dropped it in his lap. He also dropped his cell phone in his lap. The officer asked the defendant if he had drunk alcohol or was on any medication, and the defendant answered in the negative to both.

The officer asked the defendant to step out of the car, at which point the officer smelled a “moderate” odor of an alcoholic beverage. The officer also observed that the defendant had “slurred speech, glossy, bloodshot eyes” and “unusual behavior.”

The officer requested that the defendant perform three field sobriety tests: horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn, and the one leg stand. The defendant did not properly perform any of the tests and was unable to follow instructions. The officer asked the defendant to submit to a portable breathalyzer test. He refused, and the officer arrested the defendant for DUI. The officer determined, based on the defendant’s slurred speech, very dangerous driving, and performance on the field sobriety tests, that the defendant was impaired. The officer placed the defendant under arrest and transported him to the Shorewood police department.

At the police station, the officer read to the defendant a warning that explained the consequences of taking or refusing to take a chemical test for intoxication. The written form, signed by the officer, was admitted into evidence at the hearing. At the station, another officer administered a breath test, which showed the defendant had a blood alcohol level of 0.035. This is below the legal limit. The officer then asked the defendant for a blood or urine sample, which the defendant refused to give.

The trial court denied the defendant’s petition to rescind, finding that the officer had reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant was driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, based on the defendant’s driving and a moderate odor of alcohol. The court further found that providing one “Warning to Motorist” was sufficient. The defendant filed a motion to reconsider, which the trial court denied.

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court should have granted his petition to rescind because the officers lacked a reasonable suspicion to support their request for blood or urine testing after his breath test showed that his blood alcohol level was less than the legal limit.

In disagreeing, the court reasoned that the officer pulled over the defendant because of erratic driving. After speaking to the defendant, the officer noticed that the defendant had glassy eyes, slurred speech, and difficulty handling small objects, such as his cell phone and driver’s license. The officer had the defendant perform three field sobriety tests, which he failed because he could not follow instructions. These observations, the court held, were sufficient to justify the defendant’s arrest for DUI. The appeals court further held that since the officers found the defendant’s actions and behavior inconsistent with his blood alcohol level, it was reasonable to request that the defendant undergo additional testing to determine if he was under the influence of drugs.

The defendant also argued on appeal that his petition to rescind should have been granted because the officer did not issue him a “Warning to Motorist” before asking him to submit to a blood or urine test. The appeals court disagreed, reasoning that in a similar case, in which a defendant’s license was revoked following his refusal to submit to a blood test after he passed a breath test, an Oklahoma appellate court rejected the defendant’s contention that officers had to readvise him of the provisions of the implied consent law before asking him to submit to the blood test. The Oklahoma court explained that the revocation of a driver’s license is civil, rather than criminal, in nature, and due process rights are built into the regulatory procedures for the revocation of driver’s licenses. Likewise, in Illinois, rescission proceedings are civil and administrative in nature, with due process safeguards in place. Thus, it was not necessary for the officer to provide the defendant with new warnings less than an hour after the defendant received the initial “Warning to Motorist.”

For these reasons, the lower court’s judgment was affirmed.

If you were asked to submit to a blood or breath test in Illinois under suspicion of DUI, you should speak with a DUI lawyer immediately. Harvatin Law Offices, PC has significant experience in DUI cases and will fight aggressively for your rights. To learn more, and to set up a free initial consultation, contact the office online or call 217.525.0520.

More Blog Posts:

Georgia Supreme Court Holds Officer Erroneously Correlated Field Sobriety Test Results with BAC, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, March 3, 2018.

Illinois Supreme Court Reverses Grant of DUI Defendant’s Suppression Motion, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, February 1, 2018

Washington Supreme Court Holds Random Urine Testing of DUI Probationer is Constitutionally Sound, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, November 2, 2017.