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People v. Hruza

March 17, 2000

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
V.
LOUIS HRUZA, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 98--CF--112 Honorable Michael J. Burke, Judge, Presiding.

JUSTICE GALASSO

Defendant, Louis Hruza, appeals his conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) (625 ILCS 5/11--501(a)(2), (d)(1)(D) (West 1998)) and felony driving while license revoked (625 ILCS 5/6--303(a), (d) (West 1998)). He contends that (1) the trial court should have dismissed the indictment, which allegedly resulted from perjured testimony; (2) the trial court erred in applying retroactively an amended statute (625 ILCS 5/2--123 (West 1998)) regulating the transmission and evidentiary use of driver's license abstracts; and (3) he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Gregory Compton of the Westmont police department was stopped at a red light at Naperville Road and Cass Avenue on August 7, 1997, when he saw a red Taurus make a wide left turn onto Cass Avenue. The car straddled two southbound lanes for about 100 feet. When the road narrowed to one lane, the car crossed the double yellow line for about 10 feet. The car continued weaving within its lane for about five blocks.

Compton followed the red car. He saw it change to the curb lane and continue to weave within that lane. It also straddled the white fog line for about 40 feet. At 55th Street, the officer activated his emergency lights. The driver of the car turned onto 56th Street and stopped the car without difficulty.

As Compton approached the car, he noticed that the driver, whom he identified as defendant, had red, bloodshot, and glassy eyes; red cheeks; and a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage. Compton asked defendant for his driver's license and proof of insurance. After thumbing through his wallet for several minutes, defendant produced an Illinois state identification card. In response to the officer's question, defendant said that he did not believe his license was currently valid. Defendant also said that he had drunk several beers at a golf outing earlier in the day.

Defendant got out of the car, using the top of the door for support. Compton observed that defendant swayed slightly as he walked to the rear of the car. Defendant correctly recited the alphabet, "stopping briefly" between letters. Compton administered the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. According to Compton, defendant's eyes did not follow smoothly, indicating a possibility that defendant was under the influence of alcohol.

Compton also administered the finger-to-nose test. Defendant started twice before the instructions were finished. On the left-handed rotations, he touched his face below the nostril and once he put his arms down. Compton concluded that defendant failed the test. Defendant declined to perform the one-leg-stand and walk-and-turn tests, citing a hip injury. Compton then arrested defendant for DUI. Defendant refused to take a breathalyzer test.

Defendant's brother, Alan Hruza, testified that he and defendant played golf from 11 a.m. until 4 or 4:30 p.m. that day. After the round, they each had one beer in the clubhouse. They went to Alan Hruza's house to change clothes and drop off their clubs. They proceeded to the Plantation restaurant for a banquet and then played cards. Defendant had beer during dinner but switched to coffee during the card game. They left the restaurant about 11 p.m., with defendant driving a rental car. Defendant's driving, speech, and gait seemed normal.

Defendant corroborated much of his brother's testimony. He testified that he has knee, back, and hip injuries. He denied driving erratically or being under the influence of alcohol that night.

Over defendant's objection, the State introduced his driver's license abstract, which had been electronically transmitted from the Secretary of State's office. The State introduced additional documentation of defendant's prior convictions to support the enhanced DUI charge. The trial court found defendant guilty of DUI and driving while license suspended.

Defendant moved to dismiss the indictment based on a due process violation and later filed a motion for a new trial. The trial court denied both motions and sentenced defendant to 15 months' imprisonment. Defendant filed a timely notice of appeal.

Defendant first contends that the court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the indictment. He argues that he was denied due process because Officer Compton committed perjury in his grand jury testimony. The factual basis for this claim is as follows.

At the grand jury hearing, Compton was asked whether defendant failed the field sobriety tests. He responded, "The ones he did perform for me, he did fail." At trial, Compton testified that defendant correctly recited the alphabet. He said that during such a test he listens to the suspect to determine whether his or her speech is slurred. As defendant performed the tests, Compton noticed some slurring and ...


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