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St. Clair county DUI arrest results in contested hearing

A Belleville Illinois police officer arrested Fairview Heights police sergeant James Krummrich for the offense of Driving Under the Influence on St. Patrick’s Day. Because of the unusual evidence presented to him at a hearing related to the case, the judge quoted lyrics from a Buffalo Springfield song, “There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear.”

The police must have a reason to come in contact with you. Legally speaking, they are required to have a “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity in order to be in compliance with the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Terry v. Ohio 392 US 1, 20 L.Ed. 2d 889 (1968)

In this case, the accused was involved in a crash. Since not every driver who crashes is drunk, before the police can investigate a DUI charge, they must have a reasonable basis to believe the driver operated his motor vehicle while under the influence, since a mere “hunch” is not enough. People v. Drewes, 278 Ill. App. 3d 768, 215 Ill. Dec. 445 (3d. Dist. 1996)

The investigating officer told the judge that the accused admitted he was driving the truck that was involved in the crash. Moreover, the officer testified that the defendant smelled of alcohol, his eyes were glassy and he admitted he had a few drinks.

Nonetheless, the investigating officer stated in his police report that he did not believe Sergeant Krummrich was impaired. In addition, a passenger in the Krummrich vehicle, Collinsville Police Sergeant Charles Mackin, testified he did not believe his driver was intoxicated and that he would not have made an arrest for DUI if he had been the investigating officer.

The investigating officer testified he asked the driver to take a breath test and he refused. However, both the driver and his passenger denied such a request was made. The investigating officer’s supervisor, who was not present at the scene, ordered the arresting officer to make an arrest.

Adding further confusion, the officer who assisted the arresting officer testified he asked the driver to submit to standardized field sobriety tests (SFTS). However, that information was not in the assisting officer’s report, although it was in the investigating officer’s report.

The investigating officer testified that he had a video from his patrol car camera the driver’s refusal to take the FSTS. However, the prosecutors never turned over this video to the defense during discovery, as would be required under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) and People v. Kladis, 2011 IL 110920

In Illinois, once a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe you may be under the influence of alcohol, he will ask you to submit to a breath or blood test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). 625 ILCS 5/11-501.1. Upon a refusal to submit to testing, your driver’s license may be suspended for a period of 12 months if this is your first offense in the past 5 years. 625 ILCS 5/6-208.1
This suspension is known as a “statutory summary suspension” (SSS).The SSS is often referred to as being automatic but that is not actually true.

You are entitled to a hearing to contest the SSS on very limited grounds as set forth in 625 ILCS 5/2-118.1 provided you file the petition to contest the SSS within 90 days following service of the notice of SSS. 625 ILCS 5/11-501.1 The suspension itself takes effect on the 46th day following service of the notice. 625 ILCS 5/11-501.1(g)

One of the bases for contesting an SSS is that the officer did not have reasonable grounds to believe you were under the influence. The purpose of the hearing in Belleville was to determine if reasonable grounds existed. The judge did not immediately issue his decision.

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