APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT
531 N.E.2d 451, 176 Ill. App. 3d 571, 126 Ill. Dec. 156 1988.IL.1737
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Livingston County; the Hon. Charles H. Frank, Judge, presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE McCULLOUGH delivered the opinion of the court. LUND and KNECHT, JJ., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCCULLOUGH
Defendant, David G. Call, was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 95 1/2, pars. 11-501 (a)(1), (a)(2).) Defendant raises two issues on appeal. Initially, defendant contends that the State failed to prove the corpus delicti of the offense with evidence other than defendant's out-of-court statements. Secondly, defendant argues that the State's evidence did not establish he was intoxicated beyond a reasonable doubt. As to both issues, we disagree.
On December 23, 1987, at approximately 11:30 p.m., a car was found in a ditch, standing upright on its nose, between Route 66 and Interstate 55, between Odell and Cayuga. The first person who arrived at the scene was another traveler. This traveler testified that shortly after he arrived, but while he remained in his car, he observed a white male exit from the driver's side of the car in the ditch and start to advance toward him. At this point, the traveler drove away. He further testified that he was not able to get a good look at this person's face and did not recall the clothing that he wore. When this traveler returned to the scene approximately five minutes later, he found a truck at the scene and someone looking under the car. This person promptly left the scene and a State trooper then arrived.
The State trooper, Officer Michael Snyders, found the car in the ditch had mud on it and damage to both sides as well as the roof of the car. Officer Snyders immediately checked the car and found no one in or around it. He spoke with the traveler and another person at the scene, Thomas Dunlap. Dunlap testified that he was a friend of the defendant and stopped because he recognized the car as belonging to the defendant. He further testified that he found no one in the car and then walked north and south along Route 66, calling the defendant's name. He never found or saw the defendant at the scene.
A few minutes later, another officer arrived at the scene and began searching for the driver of the car. After driving several miles north and then returning south on Interstate 55, the second officer picked up the defendant two miles north of where the car was found. At this point, it was approximately 15 minutes after the accident occurred. The officer testified that the defendant flagged down his car and told the officer he had an accident. The officer brought the defendant to the scene and turned him over to Officer Snyders.
Snyders testified that the defendant told him that he was the driver of the car; that there were no other passengers in the car; and that he was not injured. Snyders observed at that time that defendant's shoes and lower part of his pants were extremely muddy. Further, Snyders noticed immediately after meeting and talking with the defendant that his speech was slurred. The two then continued their conversation in Snyders' car. There, according to Snyders, the defendant stated his car rolled over and he left the scene to get help. In the car, Snyders detected a very strong odor of alcohol coming from defendant's breath as he spoke. Snyders then administered several field-sobriety tests, two of which, the walk and turn and the one-leg stand, defendant performed poorly on. After the tests, Snyders was of the opinion that the defendant was intoxicated and placed him under arrest. At that time, Snyders asked the defendant to take a breath test and the defendant agreed to take the test. The results of the test, conducted at the State Police Headquarters, indicated that the defendant's blood-alcohol level was .15. Defendant was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident.
At a bench trial, on March 25, 1988, the State presented four witnesses: the two officers who responded to the call concerning the accident, the traveler who first witnessed the accident, and Dunlap. All four testified as to the events of the evening of December 23. The traveler also testified that just prior to arriving at the scene, as he was driving north on Route 66, a gold-colored Lincoln passed him on the right at a high rate of speed. He also remembered almost all of the numbers in the license plate on this car. This car was the same one later found in the ditch.
At the close of the State's evidence, the defendant's counsel moved for a directed verdict of acquittal on both charges. The court granted defendant's motion with regard to the failure to reduce speed and denied the motion as to the DUI. The defendant presented no evidence, and the court found the defendant guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol. Defendant was sentenced on April 21, 1988, to one year's probation and four months' imprisonment with good time credit.
Defendant argues that the corpus delicti of the cause under sections 11 -- 501(a)(1) and (a)(2) was not proved by the State. Specifically, defendant contends that the State failed to prove the driving element of the offense with evidence independent of or corroborating defendant's statement at the scene that he was driving the car. In addition, defendant argues that the evidence at trial did not establish beyond a reasonable ...