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People v. Lidster

October 18, 2002


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Freeman

Docket No. 91522-Agenda 12-January 2002.

Following a bench trial, the circuit court of Du Page County convicted defendant of driving under the influence of alcohol (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(2) (West 1996)). The appellate court found that the roadblock where the police arrested defendant did not comply with the constitutional standards set forth in City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32, 148 L. Ed. 2d 333, 121 S. Ct. 447 (2000). Accordingly, the appellate court reversed defendant's conviction. 319 Ill. App. 3d 825. We granted the State's petition for leave to appeal (177 Ill. 2d R. 315(a)), and allowed the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police to file an amicus curiae brief in support of the State. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the appellate court.


On August 30, 1997, the Lombard police department set up a roadblock on North Avenue in Lombard, Illinois. A police officer stopped defendant at the roadblock and directed him to a side street where another police officer had defendant perform several field-sobriety tests. Defendant failed a number of the tests and was taken into custody.

Defendant was subsequently charged with the offense of driving under the influence of alcohol. He filed a motion to quash his arrest and suppress evidence. At the hearing on the motion, Detective Ray Vasil testified that Lieutenant Glennon, third in command at the Lombard police department, authorized the roadblock. The purpose of the roadblock was to obtain information from motorists regarding a hit-and-run accident that took place one week earlier, at the same location, and at the same time of day. In particular, the police wanted information regarding a Ford Bronco or full-sized pickup truck implicated in the accident.

The Lombard police department has a general order regarding the use of roadblocks. The order, however, does not contain guidelines regarding the use of roadblocks to obtain information from crime witnesses. The roadblock at issue was not videotaped. Further, the police did not publicize the roadblock.

Between 6 and 12 police vehicles participated in the roadblock. Detective Vasil wore an orange reflective vest with the word "Police" on it, and stood between the eastbound lanes of North Avenue, 15 feet from the roadblock. A line of cars formed at the roadblock. As each vehicle pulled up to Detective Vasil, he handed a flyer to the driver of the vehicle requesting information regarding the accident. Because defendant's Mazda minivan almost hit him, Detective Vasil requested defendant's driver's license and insurance card. Detective Vasil smelled alcohol on defendant's breath and noticed that defendant's speech was slurred. Detective Vasil directed defendant to a side street where Detective Roy Newton had defendant perform several sobriety tests.

The trial court denied defendant's motion.

At defendant's subsequent bench trial, Detective Newton testified that he was assigned to the corner of North Avenue and Craig. His duties were to ensure that drivers did not skirt the roadblock and to provide help to the officers in the event they experienced any problems with the vehicles or drivers stopped at the roadblock. The officers at the roadblock directed several cars, including defendant's vehicle, to Detective Newton's location. At Detective Newton's request, defendant produced a driver's license and insurance information. Detective Newton then had defendant perform several sobriety tests and placed defendant under arrest.

The court found defendant guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol. The court sentenced defendant to one year of conditional discharge and required that defendant participate in counseling, complete 14 days in the "Sheriff's Work Alternative Program," and pay a fine of $200.


As noted above, the appellate court relied on Edmond, 531 U.S. 32, 148 L. Ed. 2d 333, 121 S. Ct. 447, in finding the roadblock at issue invalid. In Edmond, the United States Supreme Court invalidated checkpoints set up by the police on Indianapolis roads in an effort to interdict unlawful drugs. Initially, the Court observed:

"The Fourth Amendment requires that searches and seizures be reasonable. A search or seizure is ordinarily unreasonable in the absence of individualized suspicion of wrongdoing. [Citation.] While such suspicion is not an `irreducible' component of reasonableness [citation], we have recognized only limited circumstances in which the usual rule does not apply. For example, we have upheld certain regimes of suspicionless searches where the program was designed to serve `special needs, beyond the normal need for law enforcement.' [Citations.] ***

We have also upheld brief, suspicionless seizures of motorists at a fixed Border Patrol checkpoint designed to intercept illegal aliens, Martinez-Fuerte, [428 U.S. 543, 49 L. Ed. 2d 1116, 96 S. Ct. 3074 (1976)], and at a sobriety checkpoint aimed at removing drunk drivers from the road, Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444[, 110 L. Ed. 2d 412, 110 S. Ct. 2481] (1990)." Edmond, 531 U.S. at 37, 148 L. Ed. 2d at 340-41, 121 S. Ct. at 451-52.

The Edmond Court then reviewed its decisions in Martinez-Fuerte and Sitz, detailing the need for the checkpoints at issue and the important governmental interests they served. The Court observed:

"We have never approved a checkpoint program whose primary purpose was to detect evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing. Rather, our checkpoint cases have recognized only limited exceptions to the general rule that a seizure must be accompanied by some measure of individualized suspicion. We suggested in Prouse that we would not credit the `general interest in crime control' as justification for a regime of suspicionless stops. [Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 659 n.18, 59 L. Ed. 2d 660, 671 n.18, 99 S. Ct. 1391, 1399 n.18 (1979).] Consistent with this suggestion, each of the checkpoint programs that we have approved was designed primarily to serve purposes closely related to the problems of policing the border or the necessity of ensuring roadway safety." Edmond, 531 U.S. at 41, 148 L. Ed. 2d at 343, 121 S. Ct. at 454.

The Edmond Court firmly rejected the suggestion that the Indianapolis checkpoints could be upheld pursuant to Martinez-Fuerte and Sitz:

"Petitioners propose several ways in which the narcotics-detection purpose of the instant checkpoint program may instead resemble the primary purposes of the checkpoints in Sitz and Martinez-Fuerte. Petitioners state that the checkpoints in those cases had the same ultimate purpose of arresting those suspected of committing crimes. *** Securing the border and apprehending drunk drivers are, of course, law enforcement activities, and law enforcement officers employ arrests and criminal prosecutions in pursuit of these goals. [Citations.] If we were to rest the case at this high level of generality, there would be little check on the ability of the authorities to construct roadblocks for almost any conceivable law enforcement purpose. Without drawing the line at roadblocks designed primarily to serve the general interest in crime control, the Fourth Amendment would do little to prevent such intrusions from becoming a routine part of American life." Edmond, 531 U.S. at 42, 148 L. Ed. 2d at 343-44, 121 S. Ct. at 454.

The Edmond Court concluded that the Indianapolis checkpoints were invalid, stating:

"The primary purpose of the Indianapolis narcotics checkpoints is in the end to advance `the general interest in crime control,' [citation]. We decline to suspend the usual requirement of individualized suspicion where the police seek to employ a checkpoint primarily for the ordinary enterprise of investigating crimes. We cannot sanction stops justified only by the generalized and ever-present possibility that interrogation and inspection may reveal that any given motorist has committed some crime." Edmond, 531 U.S. at 44, 148 L. Ed. 2d at 345, 121 S. Ct. at 455.

See also Ferguson v. City of Charleston, 532 U.S. 67, 81, 149 L. Ed. 2d 205, 218-19, 121 S. Ct. 1281, 1290 (2001) (in invalidating a program at a state hospital whereby urine samples from pregnant women were tested for drugs and the results communicated to the police, the Court stated: "Respondents argue in essence that their ultimate purpose-namely, protecting the health of both mother and child-is a beneficent one. In Chandler [v. Miller, 520 U.S. 305, 137 L. Ed. 2d 513, 117 S. Ct. 1295 (1997)], however, we did not simply accept the State's invocation of a `special need.' Instead, we carried out a `close review' of the scheme at issue before concluding that the need in question was not `special,' as that term has been defined in our cases. [Citation.] In this case, a review of the M-7 policy ...

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