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Wisconsin Court Upholds DUI Conviction of Man Arrested in his Driveway

Many people believe that, to a certain extent, behavior that may be illegal in a public place is lawful within the confines of their private property. For example, they may drive their cars around their property after consuming alcohol without considering that it may be prohibited. In some states, though, a person can be charged with a DUI offense for operating a vehicle while intoxicated on private property. Wisconsin is not one of those states, however, but that did not stop a man from being convicted for operating a vehicle while intoxicated in his own driveway. While Illinois’ DUI law differs from Wisconsin’s, it is important for anyone accused of a DUI offense to understand the elements of the crime and their potential defenses. If you are charged with a DUI, you should contact a knowledgeable Illinois DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible to assess your possible defenses.

The Wisconsin Case

Reportedly, police in Kenosha, Wisconsin visited the defendant’s home in response to a complaint from a neighbor, who stated the defendant was driving around intoxicated. When they arrived, they observed the defendant sitting in his car in his driveway. He smelled like alcohol and admitted to drinking alcohol in his house but refused to submit to breath or field sobriety tests. He was arrested and a warrant was obtained for a blood test. The results of the test revealed his BAC to be 0.214.

Allegedly, the defendant was subsequently charged with and convicted of DUI. He appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erroneously denied his motion to suppress the results of his blood test, as there was no evidence that he committed a crime. The court denied his appeal, stating that reasonable inferences allowed for the assumption that he drove on a public road. The court noted, however, that it was not unlawful to operate a vehicle while intoxicated on private property.

Illinois DUI Law

In Illinois, like many states, the DUI law states that it is unlawful for a person to be in physical control of a vehicle if they have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher or are under the influence of alcohol. Notably, the law does not contain any terms defining where such operation is unlawful. The Illinois courts have held that it is illegal to operate a vehicle in violation of the DUI law anywhere in the State, irrespective of whether it is a public or private road.

Regardless of where a DUI crime allegedly occurs, the police must have just cause for stopping a person and arresting them for DUI. In other words, they must demonstrate that they held a reasonable suspicion that the person was engaging or about to engage in criminal activity prior to detaining them. If they cannot meet this burden of proof, the investigation that led to the arrest may constitute an unreasonable stop and seizure in violation of the person’s Fourth Amendment rights.

Confer with a Seasoned Illinois DUI Attorney

It is illegal to operate a vehicle while intoxicated on any road in Illinois, but simply because a person has been charged with a DUI crime does not mean that they will be convicted. If you are accused of committing a DUI offense, it is wise to confer with an attorney about your rights. Theodore J. Harvatin, of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is a seasoned Illinois DUI defense lawyer with the knowledge and experience needed to help you seek a just outcome, and if you hire him, he will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach Mr. Harvatin by calling 217.525.0520 or via the form online to set up a conference.

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