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10/18/96 CHRISTOPHER J. FINK v. GEORGE RYAN

October 18, 1996

CHRISTOPHER J. FINK, APPELLEE,
v.
GEORGE RYAN, SECRETARY OF STATE, APPELLANT.



The Honorable Justice Miller delivered the opinion of the court. Chief Justice Bilandic, dissenting. Justices Harrison and Nickels join in this dissent.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Miller

JUSTICE MILLER delivered the opinion of the court:

This appeal results from a final order entered in the circuit court of Lake County finding a portion of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/11-501.6 (West 1994)) unconstitutional under the fourth amendment of the United States Constitution.

The portion of the Vehicle Code found unconstitutional provided that if a traffic accident occurred in which death or personal injury resulted and a driver involved in the accident had been issued a Uniform Traffic Ticket for a nonequipment offense, the driver would be subject to chemical testing to determine whether the person was impaired by drugs or alcohol. See 625 ILCS 5/11-501.6(a) (West 1994). Following the circuit court's ruling, the Secretary of State appealed directly to this court pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 302(a). 134 Ill. 2d R. 302(a). We reverse and remand.

I. BACKGROUND

The circuit court found section 11-501.6 of the Illinois Vehicle Code unconstitutional. The statute provides:

"Any person who drives or is in actual control of a motor vehicle upon the public highways of this State and who has been involved in a personal injury or fatal motor vehicle accident, shall be deemed to have given consent to a breath test *** or to a chemical test or tests of blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining the alcohol or other drug content of such person's blood if arrested as evidenced by the issuance of a Uniform Traffic Ticket for any violation of the Illinois Vehicle Code or a similar provision of a local ordinance, with the exception of equipment violations contained in Chapter 12 of this Code, or similar provisions of local ordinances." 625 ILCS 5/11-501.6(a) (West 1994).

The statute further provides that a "personal injury shall include any type A injury." 625 ILCS 5/11-501.6(g) (West 1994). According to the statute, type A injuries "shall include severely bleeding wounds, distorted extremities, and injuries that require the injured party to be carried from the scene." 625 ILCS 5/11-501.6(g) (West 1994).

The circuit court's rationale in finding the statute unconstitutional was that the statute was "no different, substantively" than a predecessor statute (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-501.6) found unconstitutional by this court in King v. Ryan, 153 Ill. 2d 449, 180 Ill. Dec. 260, 607 N.E.2d 154 (1992). Because of the circuit court's reliance on King, a review of King is necessary.

This court in King held that the predecessor statute (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-501.6) violated

Page 305

the fourth amendment of the United States Constitution and article I, section 6, of the Illinois Constitution of 1970. The court found that the "special needs" exception to the fourth amendment did not apply to the predecessor statute. King, 153 Ill. 2d at 462. The court therefore believed the predecessor statute's provision for chemical testing of a driver absent a warrant or probable cause determination was unconstitutional.

As expressed by the Supreme Court, the "special needs" exception to the fourth amendment states: "we have permitted exceptions [to the fourth amendment] when 'special needs, beyond the normal need for law enforcement, make the warrant and probable-cause requirement impracticable.'" Griffin v. Wisconsin, 483 U.S. 868, 873-74, 97 L. Ed. 2d 709, 717, 107 S. Ct. 3164, 3168 (1987), quoting New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325, 351, 83 L. Ed. 2d 720, 741, 105 S. Ct. 733, 748 (1985) (Blackmun, J., concurring in judgment). The Supreme Court has found the warrant and probable cause requirement impracticable in a variety of circumstances. Some of these circumstances include: searches of government employees' desks and offices ( O'Connor v. Ortega, 480 U.S. 709, 94 L. Ed. 2d 714, 107 S. Ct. 1492 (1987)); searches of certain types of student property by school officials ( T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325, 83 L. Ed. 2d 720, 105 S. Ct. 733); roadblock searches identifying drunk drivers ( Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444, 110 L. Ed. 2d 412, 110 S. Ct. 2481 (1990)); roadblock searches identifying illegal immigrants ( United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543, 49 L. Ed. 2d 1116, 96 S. Ct. 3074 (1976)); chemical testing of railroad employees ( Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives' Ass'n, 489 U.S. 602, 103 L. Ed. 2d 639, 109 S. Ct. 1402 (1989)); and administrative searches of regulated businesses ( New York v. Burger, 482 U.S. 691, 96 L. Ed. 2d 601, 107 S. Ct. 2636 (1987)).

The court in King noted that under the "special needs" exception, a search or seizure may be reasonable absent individualized suspicion in two types of cases: (1) when the intrusion upon the person to be searched is minor; or (2) when the person to be searched has a diminished expectation of privacy. King, 153 Ill. 2d at 458-59. The court concluded that the person to be tested under the predecessor statute in King fell into neither of these two categories.

In addition, the King court believed that under the Illinois Constitution's right of privacy (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, ยง 6) a driver could not be subject to chemical testing when the driver had not been charged with an offense based upon probable cause. King, 153 Ill. 2d at 464-65. Accordingly, the court found that the statute violated the Illinois Constitution as well.

II. THE PRESENT CASE

On the evening of December 18, 1994, Christopher J. Fink drove his car into a telephone pole. Fink's friend, Jeffrey Almeit, was a passenger in the car. Fink and Almeit exited the car and found their way to a nearby house. Paramedics and the police were called. When the police arrived, paramedics were immobilizing Fink and Almeit with cervical collars and back boards. The two were transported to a local hospital. Before proceeding to the hospital, police officers investigated the accident scene.

At the hospital, Fink was issued a traffic ticket for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. See 625 ILCS 5/11-601(a) (West 1994). An officer requested that Fink submit to a blood-alcohol content test and Fink was warned of the consequences if he refused-the suspension of his driver's license. See 625 ILCS 5/11-501.6(c), (d) (West 1994). Fink consented to a blood test and a nurse drew a blood sample. The sample revealed a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.14. Later that night, Fink was released from the hospital.

The State attempted to proceed against Fink in two ways. First, the State sent Fink notice that his driver's license was to be suspended for three months pursuant to sections 11-501.6 and 6-208.1 (625 ILCS 5/11-501.6, 6-208.1 (West 1994)). Second, Fink was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). See 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(1) (West 1994). The DUI citation was premised upon the ...


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