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People v. Mucha

OPINION FILED JANUARY 31, 1986.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

JEANNETTE L. MUCHA, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. James W. Jerz, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE SCHNAKE DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Following a hearing conducted pursuant to the Illinois implied-consent statute (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-501.1), the trial court found that the State had met its burden on the issues required to be proved under that law. Defendant, Jeannette Mucha, appeals, contending (1) that she should not be deemed to have "refused to submit" to a breathalyzer test because her refusal was a result of confusion on her part between her Miranda rights and her rights under the implied-consent law, (2) that she had a constitutional and statutory right to consult an attorney prior to deciding whether to submit to the breathalyzer test, and that she was improperly denied that right, and (3) that the proceedings under the implied-consent law should have been dismissed when she subsequently pleaded guilty to driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI).

At the hearing under the implied-consent law, the State called Officer Carolyn Vallas of the Bloomingdale police department. She testified that on November 12, 1983, at about 1:30 a.m., as she was driving eastbound on Lake Street approaching Ridge Avenue, she observed a gold Mercedes Benz facing westbound and stopped about 40 feet east of the intersection. The car was over the double yellow line and extended about three feet into the eastbound lanes. The car's headlights were on, and its left-hand turn signal was blinking.

Vallas pulled up alongside the car. The motor was running. Defendant was slumped over the steering wheel. Vallas got out of her car and tapped on the driver's window of the Mercedes. There was no response. Vallas opened the driver's door and lifted defendant's head back. Defendant, whose eyes were closed, was drooling and making groaning sounds as if she was starting to wake up. At that time two other police officers, Polvere and Marker, arrived.

Marker turned the motor off. Then the officers aroused defendant enough to get her out of the car. Vallas took one of the defendant's arms, and Polvere took the other as they helped defendant exit the car. In the process defendant lost her balance. She then leaned back against the car. Vallas testified that defendant began mumbling something about just getting off the plane from Hungary, and that the police should check her passport. Vallas asked defendant if she knew where she was, and defendant replied that she did not. Vallas asked her if she knew what country she was in, and defendant said, no. Vallas placed her under arrest for DUI and put handcuffs on her. Vallas then escorted defendant to the squad car. At that point defendant was walking on her own.

After defendant had been placed in the squad car, Vallas read defendant her Miranda rights. Defendant did not respond. Vallas then drove to the police department. When they arrived Vallas removed the handcuffs from defendant and placed her in a cell.

Vallas stated that about an hour after she saw defendant on Lake Street, she returned to defendant's cell and served her with three traffic tickets. Vallas testified that she then read defendant the implied-consent warning from a card. She read defendant the warning twice because she felt that defendant maybe did not understand it the first time. Defendant acknowledged that she understood the warning. Vallas then asked her if she would take the breathalyzer test, and defendant replied, no. Subsequently, defendant requested to call her lawyer, and Vallas told her she could. Defendant subsequently told Vallas she could not contact her lawyer because she did not know his telephone number. She did call a friend to help post bond.

On cross-examination, the following colloquy occurred regarding defendant's response to the request that she take the breathalyzer test:

"Q. Officer, did you ask my client if she would take a test?

A. Yes.

Q. The breath test?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. Did she say, `You are violating my rights, I want to talk to my lawyer'?

A. She said, `No, I won't take the test.' She said, `You are violating my rights, I want to ...


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