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Illinois Court Finds the Motor Vehicle Code Does Not Impose Implied Consent to Chemical Testing Absent an Arrest

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.

Burden Shifting Analysis

A defendant arguing evidence should be suppressed bears the initial burden of proving that a search took place and that the search was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. The burden then shifts to the state to show that the search was valid.  Whether evidence will be precluded depends on whether the court ultimately determines the search was permitted under one of the delineated exceptions.

Implied Consent Under the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code

The court noted that the blood test in question was a search as contemplated by the Fourth Amendment. For a search to be reasonable, it must be conducted with a warrant or fall under one of the clearly defined exceptions to the requirement of a warrant. Here, it was undisputed that the defendant did not consent to the blood test. The state argued, however, that the defendant impliedly consented under the implied consent laws of the Illinois motor vehicle code.  The court disagreed, finding that the implied consent provisions state that a driver will be deemed to consent to chemical testing if he or she is arrested for a DUI, or involved in a car accident in which there is a fatality and he or she is arrested for violating the motor vehicle code.

Here, the court noted that the implied consent provisions of the Illinois motor vehicle code were inapplicable because the defendant was not under arrest at the time his blood was taken. Further, the court was not persuaded by the state’s argument that the motor vehicle provision that allowed for a blood draw where an officer has probable cause to believe a defendant is under the influence of alcohol in cases involving fatalities should apply. First, the court noted that the provision only applied to defendants who are under arrest. Further, the state did not produce evidence that the investigating officer had probable cause to believe the defendant was under the influence of alcohol prior to his testing. As such, the court affirmed the trial court ruling granting the motion to suppress.

Retain a Skilled Illinois DUI Attorney to Represent You Today

If you are charged with a DUI you should consult an experienced Illinois DUI attorney as soon as possible to analyze the facts or your case and discuss your available defenses. Attorney Theodore J. Harvatin, of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC will vigorously advocate on your behalf to help you retain your rights. Set up a free and confidential consultation by calling us at 217.525.0520.

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