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People v. Massie

June 01, 1999

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ROBERT MASSIE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice O'mara Frossard

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County

Honorable Joan Pucillo, Judge Presiding.

Defendant, Robert A. Massie, appeals the trial court's denial of his petition to rescind the statutory summary suspension of his driving privileges following his arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol. On July 31, 1997, defendant filed a petition to rescind his statutory summary suspension. Defendant contends that the trial court erred in finding that: (1) his blood was tested in the ordinary course of emergency room medical care; (2) he was properly arrested under section 11-501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Code) (625 ILCS 5/11-501 (West 1996)); (3) the arresting officer had reasonable grounds to believe that he was driving or in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol; (4) the arresting officer properly warned him; (5) defendant's blood test revealed a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .10 or more; and (6) the rescission hearing was held within 30 days after defendant filed his petition.

The question we address is what standards of admissibility must the State follow in order to lay the foundation for admitting evidence of blood test results when the State rebuts a prima facie case for rescission based on the unreliable results of a physician-ordered blood test. We hold that the State in a rescission hearing must comply with the standards of admissibility of section 11-501.2(a)(1) of the Code in order to lay the foundation for admitting the blood test results in evidence. 625 ILCS 5/11-501.2(a)(1) (West 1996).

We reverse the trial court's denial of defendant's petition to rescind because the foundational requirements for admitting the results of the blood test were not properly provided by the prosecution after defendant established a prima facie case of the unreliability of the results of the physician-ordered blood test. We therefore need not address defendant's five other issues on appeal.

I. FACTS

At the rescission hearing, defendant testified that on June 27, 1997, at 8:30 p.m., he arrived at the emergency room of MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn after being involved in a motor vehicle accident. He received medical treatment, diagnostic tests, and a blood test. A woman swabbed his arm with alcohol, drew blood, and placed his blood into two vials. At the time of the blood test, there were no police officers present. Defendant testified that he was not under the influence of alcohol at the time he submitted to the blood test and that he had not consumed any alcohol for approximately three hours prior to operating a motor vehicle. Defendant admitted that he, in total, drank two shots of kahlua at approximately 4 p.m.

Defendant testified that after the blood test, a police officer arrived at the hospital. The police officer arrested him and although he had already submitted to a blood test, the officer gave him warnings about submitting to or refusing to submit to a chemical test. The officer also asked defendant to sign a release form, which defendant did. Defendant then consented to submit to a chemical test. Defendant, however, did not receive any additional chemical test. On cross-examination, defendant stated he sustained a head injury and was bleeding from the head as a result of the accident. Over objection on cross-examination, defendant testified that he was told that the blood test at the hospital revealed a BAC of over .24.

Defendant's mother, Wendy Massie, testified that between 10 p.m. and 10:15 p.m., she saw defendant at the MacNeal Hospital emergency room. She noticed that defendant had a head injury but did not witness any medical treatment given to defendant. Wendy Massie also testified that she saw a police officer arrive at the hospital and saw defendant sign something in front of the police officer. Wendy Massie did not smell any alcohol on defendant's breath and did not believe that defendant was under the influence of alcohol. The defendant then rested on the petition to rescind the statutory summary suspension. The State moved for a directed finding. After arguments, the trial court denied the State's motion for a directed finding on all grounds of defendant's petition.

The State called Berwyn police officer Thomas Skyrd. Officer Skyrd testified that around 7:45 p.m., he received a call about a car accident in Berwyn and went to the scene of the accident. Officer Skyrd observed two vehicles involved in the accident, a van and smaller car, which appeared to be a Honda. Officer Skyrd saw defendant walk toward the Honda and sit in the vehicle. Defendant was bleeding from his head. While sitting in the Honda, defendant told Officer Skyrd that he was sorry and that the accident was his fault because he was driving too fast. Officer Skyrd did not smell any alcohol on defendant's breath and noted that fact in his alcohol influence report. Officer Skyrd did not request defendant to perform any field sobriety tests and did not ask defendant to take a breathalyzer test. Officer Skyrd did not place defendant under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol. Defendant was transported to the hospital, and Officer Skyrd remained at the accident scene to fill out reports.

Over defendant's hearsay objection, Officer Skyrd testified that Dr. Mallman of the MacNeal Hospital emergency room told him on the phone that, in his opinion, defendant appeared intoxicated. Dr. Mallman also stated that he had ordered a blood test. Officer Skyrd admitted that he was not present at the time of the blood test and he did not know the exact reason for the test. Officer Skyrd then proceeded to the hospital.

Although the defendant had submitted to the blood test before Officer Skyrd arrived, Officer Skyrd nonetheless read defendant a warning to motorist at 10:15 p.m. Defendant consented to submit to a chemical test; however, Officer Skyrd did not request defendant to submit to any additional tests. Officer Skyrd then received the results of defendant's physician-ordered blood test and gave notice to defendant of the summary suspension of his driving privileges.

II. ANALYSIS

In a summary suspension proceeding, the motorist must show by a preponderance of the evidence that he is entitled to rescission. People v. Scott, 249 Ill. App. 3d 596, 600, 619 N.E.2d 809 (1993). The defendant has the burden of proof and only if the defendant establishes a prima facie case for rescission does the burden shift to the State to present evidence justifying the suspension. People v. Smith, 172 Ill. 2d 289, 295, 665 N.E.2d 1215 (1996). The trial court is responsible for weighing the evidence and judging the credibility of witnesses. Smith, 172 Ill. 2d at 295. On appeal, the trial court's decision will not be disturbed unless it is against the manifest weight of the evidence. Smith, 172 Ill. 2d at 295.

A. Prima Facie Case

Defendant argues that he is entitled to rescission because he sustained his burden of proof and established an unrebutted prima facie case that his blood-alcohol test result was not reliable. People v. Orth, 124 Ill. 2d 326, 336-37, 530 N.E.2d 210 (1988). A summary suspension hearing is a swift civil administrative procedure to address the status of a motorist's driving privileges as the result of an arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or other chemical substance. Orth, 124 Ill. 2d at 336-37. Due to the nature of this proceeding, courts are reluctant to place too great a burden on the State in a rescission hearing. People v. Wise, 282 Ill. App. 3d 642, 646-47, 669 N.E.2d 128 (1996). Thus, only if the defendant establishes a prima facie case with credible evidence of the unreliability of a chemical test does the burden shift to the State to rebut the prima facie case. The State is then required to lay a foundation for the admission of the chemical ...


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