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Village of Algonquin v. Tilden

December 6, 2002


Appeal from the Circuit Court of McHenry County. No. 01-TR-48324 Honorable Michael T. Caldwell, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Byrne

The Village of Algonquin (the Village) appeals from the trial court's order rescinding the statutory summary suspension of the driving privileges of defendant, Joan Tilden. On appeal, the Village contends that the trial court committed reversible error when it excluded defendant's incriminating statements made before the arrest and barred the Village from calling defendant as an adverse witness at the hearing. We reverse.


At 2:49 p.m. on November 5, 2001, Algonquin police officer Timothy Wilkin arrested defendant for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) (625 ILCS 5/11--501(a)(1) (West 2000)) after she failed several roadside sobriety tests and chemical testing revealed that her blood-alcohol concentration was 0.223. The Secretary of State summarily suspended defendant's driving privileges pursuant to section 11--501.1(e) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Vehicle Code) (625 ILCS 5/11--501.1(e) (West 2000)). The three-month statutory summary suspension was to begin on December 21, 2001. See 625 ILCS 5/6--208.1(a)(2) (West 2000).

On November 21, 2001, defendant petitioned to rescind the suspension under section 2--118.1 of the Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/2--118.1 (West 2000)). The petition alleged several statutory grounds for a rescission, but at the hearing, defendant argued only that Wilkin lacked reasonable grounds to believe that defendant was driving or in actual physical control of her vehicle upon a highway while under the influence of alcohol or another drug. See 625 ILCS 5/2--118.1(b)(2) (West 2000).

Wilkin testified that he was at the Shell gas station in Algonquin when an unidentified person approached Wilkin, pointed to defendant, and stated that she was "bombed." Defendant was sitting in the driver's seat of her car and the engine was running. Defendant was parked at the gas station, and Wilkin never observed defendant driving on a public highway or violating any traffic law. Wilkin testified that he approached defendant and asked her how she arrived at the gas station. However, because Wilkin had failed to advise defendant of her rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694, 86 S. Ct. 1602 (1966), before questioning her, the court did not allow him to testify to what she said. The court permitted Wilkin to describe his other observations.

When he spoke with defendant, Wilkin detected a strong odor of perfume but he did not smell alcohol. Defendant's eyes were "glassy, glazed-over, and bloodshot." Defendant stuttered and slurred her speech, and she could not answer simple questions quickly. Wilkin saw that defendant's front passenger-side tire was flat and had a two-inch tear. Wilkin's sworn report noted that defendant admitted consuming four vodka drinks before leaving home on the date of the arrest, but this information was suppressed at the hearing.

Defendant exited the vehicle and submitted to several field sobriety tests. Defendant was directed to complete the one-legged stand test, but she could not even lift her foot off the ground. Defendant also failed the "finger-to-nose" and horizontal gaze nystagmus tests. After a portable breath test revealed that defendant's blood-alcohol concentration was 0.223, Wilkin arrested her.

The Village called defendant to testify as an adverse witness, and she objected, citing the right against self-incrimination prescribed by the fifth amendment to the federal constitution. The court sustained the objection, only briefly commenting that defendant did not waive her rights by filing the petition to rescind the suspension. The court rescinded the statutory summary suspension after concluding that Wilkin lacked probable cause to arrest defendant for DUI. This timely appeal followed.


Officer Wilkin formally arrested petitioner after she told him that she had consumed four vodka drinks before driving to the gas station, and the trial court suppressed these statements. On appeal, the Village contends that (1) Wilkin did not violate defendant's Miranda rights and, therefore, the trial court erroneously suppressed the incriminating statements; (2) even if Wilkin did not comply with Miranda before questioning defendant, the statements were admissible at the statutory summary suspension hearing because the proceeding was civil rather than criminal; and (3) defendant waived her right to decline to testify when she filed her petition to rescind the statutory summary suspension of her driving privileges.

Generally, a reviewing court will reverse a trial court's decision on a motion to suppress statements only if that ruling is manifestly erroneous. However, de novo review is appropriate if neither the facts nor the credibility of the witnesses is at issue. People v. Patel, 313 Ill. App. 3d 601, 603 (2000). We apply a de novo standard of review in this case because the trial court accepted the testimony of Officer Wilkin, who was the only person to testify at the hearing. See Patel, 313 Ill. App. 3d at 603-04.

In Miranda, the Supreme Court held that the State may not use statements made during a suspect's custodial interrogation unless procedural safeguards were used to preserve the privilege against self-incrimination. The Court held that suspects interrogated while in police custody must be told that they have a right to remain silent, that anything they say may be used against them in court, that they are entitled to the presence of an attorney at the time of the interrogation, and that if they cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for them. Patel, 313 Ill. App. 3d at 604, citing Miranda, 384 U.S. at 444, 16 L. Ed. 2d at 706-07, 86 S. Ct. at 1612.

The Village concedes that defendant did not receive any Miranda warnings before she made the incriminating statements. However, the Village asserts that the arresting officer nevertheless complied with Miranda because defendant was not "in custody" when she was questioned. We need not decide the issue because we conclude that any noncompliance with Miranda would not require excluding defendant's statements in this case. We follow the Fourth and Fifth Districts of the Illinois Appellate Court, which have held that statements made in violation of Miranda, which would be otherwise inadmissible in a criminal proceeding, may be considered in a proceeding to ...

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