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03/31/87 the People of the State of v. Joseph Griffith

March 31, 1987

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

JOSEPH GRIFFITH, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, SECOND DISTRICT

506 N.E.2d 430, 153 Ill. App. 3d 856, 106 Ill. Dec. 723 1987.IL.412

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. Ronald Mehling, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

Justice Inglis delivered the opinion of the court. Dunn and Reinhard, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE INGLIS

The defendant, Joseph C. Griffith (Griffith), appeals from the judgment of the circuit court which continued the statutory summary suspension of defendant's driving privileges pursuant to section 11-501.1 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Code) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-501.1). On appeal, Griffith sets forth several contentions which, he claims, require reversal of the trial court's judgment. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court.

On January 18, 1986, Griffith was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in violation of section 11-501 of the Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-501). On that date, he was given written notice of the summary suspension of his driving privileges pursuant to section 11-501.1 of the Code. Griffith was advised by a confirmation letter dated January 28, 1986, that he had the right to request a judicial hearing on the summary suspension by filing a petition with the circuit court clerk. The letter stated that the State would be ready for this hearing on the arraignment date which was set for February 18, 1986.

On February 18, 1986, Griffith filed a petition for a hearing pursuant to section 2-118.1 of the Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 95 1/2, par. 2-118.1). The petition acknowledged that Griffith refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. It sought the court to determine whether (1) he had been lawfully placed under arrest for an offense as defined in section 11-501; (2) the arresting officer had reasonable grounds to believe that he was driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol; and (3) he had been advised by the arresting officer that his privilege to operate a motor vehicle would be suspended if he refused to submit and complete the breathalyzer test.

At the hearing, Griffith's counsel informed the court that he was unprepared to go forward with the case. Witnesses were unavailable at that time, and he had been hired only one week prior to that date. The assistant State's Attorney advised the court that the arresting officer was present and that pursuant to administrative order No. 85 -- 46, summary suspension hearings should not be continued. The trial court ordered the suspension hearing to begin that afternoon and to be continued to March 4, 1986, so that Griffith could present his witnesses.

At the hearing, Griffith testified that on January 18, 1986, he was stopped by a police officer while he was stopped at the red light at St. Charles Road and Route 83. The officer asked him if he knew that his license plates had expired. He responded by producing a receipt demonstrating that a renewal had been applied for. The officer then questioned whether he knew that one of his headlights was brighter than the other. After responding affirmatively, he was asked if he had been drinking that night. He acknowledged that he had had some drinks earlier. The officer then asked him to exit his vehicle, whereupon he questioned whether the officer intended for him to leave the vehicle in the middle of the street at the stoplight. The officer instructed him to drive the vehicle across the street to the State Police weigh-in station. At the weigh-in station, the officer asked him to perform two field sobriety tests. Griffith recalled that after approximately six steps into the toe-to-heel test, the officer informed him he was doing it wrong and instructed him again on the procedure. After four more steps, he was informed that he had failed the test. Then, the officer requested that he balance on one leg. After balancing for approximately three seconds, he was informed that he was wobbling. He explained to the court that the reason he wobbled was because he had rheumatoid arthritis in his knees following knee surgery in 1979 and because the small shoes that he was wearing did not provide him any support on the gravel area in which they were standing. The police officer then informed Griffith that he would be cited for DUI. They went to the Villa Park police department where the officer issued a ticket for misuse of lanes and DUI. When the police officer asked Griffith if he would take the breathalyzer test, he responded that he would not. Finally, defendant testified that he felt that at the time he was not legally intoxicated, he was driving in a safe manner, not violating any traffic laws, and that he had performed the toe-to-heel test as well as the police officer.

The State moved for a directed finding claiming that the defendant had not sustained his burden of proof. The trial court denied this request.

Next, Officer Raymond Fisher testified. He stated that on January 18, 1986, at approximately 12:10 a.m., he saw a car with expired license plates. He followed this car for two blocks while he "ran the plates." During this time, the car was weaving across the yellow centerline. He stopped the car and spoke to the driver, whom he identified as Griffith. He observed a strong odor of alcohol on Griffith's breath. Griffith's speech was slurred and he mumbled. He asked Griffith to perform two sobriety tests. In the toe-to-heel test, he acknowledged that Griffith performed the test in the correct manner after a second attempt, but that he was still staggering, falling and swaying off the line while walking. In the one-leg stand, Griffith held his foot off the ground for only about three seconds before he began to fall down. The officer testified that he did not think that Griffith was fit to drive. He placed him under arrest and took him to the police station, where he refused to take the breathalyzer test after being informed of the consequences of refusal.

At the Conclusion of the hearing, the trial court found that Griffith had been placed under arrest for an offense as defined in section 11 -- 501, that the arresting officer had reasonable grounds to believe that Griffith was driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, and that he had been advised by Officer Fisher that the privilege to operate the motor vehicle would be suspended if he refused to submit to and complete the breathalyzer test. The court set the cause over until March 4 for a hearing on defendant's petition for a judicial driving permit.

At that hearing, Griffith's counsel argued that the burden of proof was on the State to demonstrate that the arresting officer had reasonable grounds to believe that defendant was driving under the influence of alcohol. After a Discussion of various cases and statutory provisions, the trial court adhered to its ...


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