APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, SECOND DISTRICT
531 N.E.2d 116, 176 Ill. App. 3d 348, 125 Ill. Dec. 937 1988.IL.1664
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County; the Hon. William D. Block, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE REINHARD delivered the opinion of the court. DUNN, J., concurs. JUSTICE INGLIS, Dissenting.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE REINHARD
Defendant, Gregory S. Anderson, was charged by information, filed March 6, 1987, in the circuit court of Lake County, with unlawful possession with intent to deliver more than 500 grams of a substance containing cannabis (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 56 1/2, par. 705(e)) and unlawful possession of more than 500 grams of a substance containing cannabis (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 56 1/2, par. 704(e)). Defendant moved to suppress the evidence seized during a warrantless search of his vehicle. After a hearing on July 10, 1987, the circuit court, finding the police officer's testimony less than credible, concluded that the officer's opening of the door of defendant's vehicle, presumably to determine the gross vehicle weight rating, was a sham for purposes of searching the interior of the vehicle for marijuana. The circuit court thereupon granted defendant's motion to suppress. The State filed a certificate of impairment and appeals pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 604(a)(1) (107 Ill. 2d 604(a)(1)).
We briefly summarize the relevant facts. At the suppression hearing, David Ronzani, a police officer for the Village of Gurnee, testified that on February 18, 1987, at approximately 7:45 p.m., he saw defendant driving a 1979 Chevrolet Blazer truck. The Blazer had oversize wheels, and the bumper height was equal to Ronzani's front driver's door window. Believing from his previous experience that defendant's bumpers exceeded the legal limit, the officer turned around to follow defendant, who pulled into a driveway at 3631 Glen Flora, Gurnee, Illinois. Defendant and his two passengers got out of the vehicle. The officer pulled his squad car into the driveway behind defendant's vehicle. Defendant approached the officer's open window, and Officer Ronzani explained to defendant that he was being stopped for improper bumper height. Ronzani got out of his car and measured the front bumper height, which he later determined to be in excess of the legal limit by four inches. He then measured the rear bumper height, which he subsequently determined to be in excess of the legal limit by four inches. While measuring the vehicle, Ronzani noticed a strong odor of marijuana smoke on defendant. He called defendant over to the squad car, opened up the Illinois Vehicle Code, and showed defendant the section regarding bumper heights. He then asked defendant what the gross weight of his vehicle was. Defendant replied that the weight was between 6,500 and 8,000 pounds.
Ronzani at first did not recall whether he, at that time, issued two uniform traffic citations charging violations of the height restrictions for bumpers found in the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 95 1/2, par. 12-608). However, he later testified that he believed he wrote the tickets before he went to the Blazer and that he opened the door because he wanted to write the exact gross weight of the vehicle on the back of the tickets so he could testify to it in court. Ronzani testified that, because defendant was uncertain of the gross weight of the Blazer, he went to the Blazer and opened the driver's door to check the Federal tag, without asking defendant's permission.
Although he first indicated the tag was on the doorjamb, he clarified that he first looked at the doorjamb and then saw the tag on the door edge containing the latch which meets the doorjamb.
As he used his flashlight to observe, the light shined into the Blazer, where Ronzani observed a small pipe on the floorboard between the bucket seats. He also observed residue inside the bowl of the pipe. He further smelled marijuana smoke inside the vehicle. Based on his experience, he concluded the pipe was used for smoking marijuana. Ronzani read defendant the Miranda warnings and then asked if there was any more marijuana. Defendant produced two cookie cans which contained marijuana and rolling papers. At that time, Ronzani informed defendant that he was under arrest and placed him in the squad car in handcuffs. Ronzani then searched the Blazer and found more marijuana and several pipes. When Ronzani confronted defendant with this additional evidence and asked him if there was anything else, defendant said there was a suitcase in the backseat area which contained marijuana. Ronzani opened the suitcase and discovered more baggies containing marijuana.
Theresa Bouma testified that defendant was her sister's fiance. She saw defendant drive into the driveway of her home, and Kathy Bouma, Micki Decaden, and defendant got out of the truck. Defendant approached the squad car and spoke to the officer for a minute or so. She saw the officer measure the front and rear bumpers and then observed him write the tickets and give them to defendant. Defendant and the officer continued talking for several more minutes, then walked back to the truck where the officer opened the driver's door. She said that the officer looked at the tag and then looked into the rest of the Blazer. She described a head movement, but said that he disappeared for 5 to 10 seconds, as if bending down, and that she was unable to see what he did. He then stood up and shut the door.
Phyllis Bouma testified that she observed the stop of defendant in the driveway from inside the house. She indicated that she saw defendant talk to the officer, saw the officer measure the bumpers, and saw the officer write something and hand it to defendant, who put it in his shirt pocket. She then moved away from the window of the house.
Defendant testified that, after he was stopped, he had a conversation with Officer Ronzani regarding the height restrictions for vehicle bumpers. Ronzani asked whether he knew the gross vehicle weight rating of the vehicle, and defendant responded that it was 6,500 pounds. The officer wrote the tickets and gave them to defendant, who put them in his pocket; then the officer walked to the Blazer, saying that he was going to verify the weight rating of the vehicle. Ronzani then opened the door and looked for the tag. Defendant said that the tag was on the door edge, at the level of the glass.
Ronzani turned on the flashlight and looked on the door frame of the vehicle first; he then scanned across the inside with the flashlight and bent over a little. Thereafter, he found the tag on the door edge and read defendant his rights. Defendant testified that the ...