On January 21, 2016, the Fourth District Illinois Court of Appeal upheld defendant Albert Fleming’s nine-year prison sentence for an aggravated DUI.
Fleming struck and killed pedestrian Anthony Pauls while he was crossing the street on October 12, 2012. The state alleged that Fleming’s driving under the influence was the proximate cause of Pauls’ death. Then, the 20-year-old Fleming was charged on October 15, 2012 of DUI and leaving the scene. The state later charged him with an additional count of aggravated DUI.
In June 2013, a jury convicted Fleming of aggravated DUI and leaving the scene of an accident involving death. In September 2013, the trial court sentenced the defendant to consecutive terms of nine years for the aggravated DUI and five years for leaving the scene. Afterwards, Fleming filed a motion to reconsider, which the trial court denied.
On appeal, Fleming argued that: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence of the blood draw; (2) the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his DUI was the proximate cause of the victim’s death; and (3) his nine-year sentence for aggravated DUI was excessive.
Prior to trial, the defendant filed a motion to suppress all evidence of his blood draw, arguing that it violated his rights under both the state and federal Constitutions. Specifically, he argued that he did not consent to the blood draw and that it was taken in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Missouri v. McNeely. McNeely stands for the proposition that a DUI arrest is not, alone, an exigent circumstance sufficient to justify an involuntary blood draw. The Illinois appellate court found that McNeely did not apply because Fleming consented to the blood draw. The record did not indicate that his consent was involuntary. Accordingly, the trial court did not err in denying the defendant’s motion to suppress.
The defendant next argued that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to establish that his DUI was a proximate cause of the victim’s death. Under section 501(d)(1)(F) of the Vehicle Code, a defendant commits aggravated DUI when his DUI results in a death, and the DUI is a proximate cause of the death. Fleming argued that the state failed to prove the proximate cause element because Fleming’s impairment was minimal, and the victim himself was intoxicated and cut in front of Fleming’s vehicle. The appellate court noted, however, that Illinois precedent indicates that the defendant’s intoxication is not required to be the sole cause of the accident. At Fleming’s trial, the state presented evidence that Fleming’s BAC was .11 over two hours after the accident and that he exhibited numerous signs of intoxication at the scene. Moreover, it was not unreasonable for the jury to conclude that a sober driver in the defendant’s place would have seen Pauls and taken steps to avoid the collision. Thus, the evidence was sufficient to prove Fleming’s DUI was a proximate cause of the accident.
Finally, the defendant argued that the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing him to nine years for the aggravated DUI. Specifically, he contended that his sentence was excessive because: (1) the trial court used deterrence as a sole factor in aggravation; and (2) the judge improperly used his personal policy of imposing significant prison terms for aggravated DUI offenders. The appeals court found, however, that the record revealed the trial court considered appropriate factors in aggravation and mitigation and chose a sentence within the statutory range. Thus, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing the defendant.
For these reasons, the sentence was affirmed.
If you have been charged with a DUI crime in Illinois, or you need a driver’s license, it is crucial to speak to an experienced Illinois DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Harvatin Law Offices, PC provides knowledgeable representation to people in Springfield and throughout Illinois. We have considerable experience defending individuals charged with DUI offenses and representing revoked drivers before the Illinois Secretary of State. To learn more and to set up a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 217.525.0520.
More Blog Posts:
New York DWI Charge Dismissed Because Defendant’s “Body is a Brewery,” Illinois DUI Lawyer Blawg, January 11, 2016.
New Illinois Law Lets Recent DUI Arrestees Drive, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blawg, January 4, 2016.
New Law Regarding Four-Time DUI Offenders Effective January 1, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blawg, December 21, 2015