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People v. Murphy





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. Angelo F. Pistilli, Judge, presiding.


The defendant, Erin B. Murphy, was indicted for the offense of reckless homicide as a result of an automobile accident which occurred in Will County on February 4, 1983. Prior to her scheduled trial, defendant filed a motion in limine to prevent the admission of the results of a blood-alcohol test performed upon her while she was a patient at Edward Hospital for injuries she had sustained in the automobile accident.

Following a hearing, the circuit court of Will County granted defendant's motion in limine and suppressed the blood-alcohol results. The People have appealed contending that the court erred in applying the requirements of section 11-501.2 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-501.2) to a reckless homicide proceeding. Alternatively, the People argue that even if the circuit court was correct in initially applying the foregoing statute to a reckless homicide case, the statute was nevertheless inapplicable in the final analysis because the chemical analysis of the defendant's blood was not made at the request of the police.

At the hearing on the defendant's motion in limine it was stipulated by the parties that the facts of the occurrence involved a one-car accident in which the defendant's vehicle left the roadway and struck a guard rail. The collision resulted in the death of a passenger in the defendant's motor vehicle.

It was further stipulated that the defendant was removed from the scene by ambulance and attended by paramedics en route to Edward Hospital in Naperville, Illinois, for treatment of her injuries. While in the emergency room, an attending physician ordered a blood sample be taken from the defendant for medical reasons. The blood sample was taken by a medical technologist.

It was finally stipulated that although the Edward Hospital laboratory was licensed by the Illinois Department of Public Health to conduct blood tests for its own medical purposes, neither the laboratory nor any of its technicians were certified to conduct blood-alcohol tests pursuant to the requirements of section 11-501.2, and the rules promulgated thereunder by the Illinois Department of Public Health, specifically sections 12.01 through 12.04 of the Standards & Procedures for Testing for Alcohol and/or Other Drugs by Breath, Blood & Urine Analysis, which was effective throughout Illinois as of January 1, 1982.

The People's brief contains a detailed description of the qualifications of the laboratory, the technician in question and the method she used to extract and test the defendant's blood sample. The trial court believed that despite the fact that the laboratory in question, as well as the individual technician involved in the removal and testing of the defendant's blood sample, were well qualified to do so for their own purposes, since neither possessed the certification required by the statute, it had no choice but to grant defendant's motion in limine.

In addition to the foregoing stipulations of fact, it would further appear that both sides acknowledge that the prior statute and case law interpreting it would support the decision of the trial court here, i.e., that section 11-501 et seq., commonly referred to as the DWI statute, also governed the admissibility of blood tests in reckless homicide prosecutions as well. See People v. Leffew (1975), 33 Ill. App.3d 700, 338 N.E.2d 480; People v. Weissinger (1980), 90 Ill. App.3d 700, 413 N.E.2d 497; People v. Todd (1975), 59 Ill.2d 534, 322 N.E.2d 447; and People v. Palmer (1983), 114 Ill. App.3d 454, 448 N.E.2d 1005.

The issue presented for review here is whether the new statutory amendments to section 11-501 et seq. change the law to the extent that its provisions no longer apply to reckless homicide prosecutions. The People contend the amendments indicate a legislative intent to abandon the former all-encompassing language of the statute which was relied upon by the various courts> of this State to conclude that reckless homicide prosecutions were governed by the same rules of evidence as DWI prosecutions with respect to the admissibility of blood tests. The defendant argues that the amendments do not change the applicability of the law to reckless homicide cases, but only clarify the fact that the new legislation applies to both civil and criminal cases and that evidence of a refusal to submit to a request for a blood-alcohol test is now admissible in both civil and criminal actions.

A comparison of the statutory language of the former enactment and the present amendment reveals the following:

"Sec. 11-501. Persons under the influence of intoxicating liquor or narcotic drugs.

(a) No person who is under the influence of intoxicating liquor may drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle within this State.

(c) Upon the trial of any action or proceeding arising out of the acts alleged to have been committed by any person while driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, evidence of the amount of alcohol in the person's blood at the time of the act alleged as shown by a chemical analysis of his breath, blood, urine, saliva or other bodily substance is admissible, as provided hereinafter in this paragraph (c) and the result of any such ...

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