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People v. Grove

June 27, 2003

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
WILLIAM E. GROVE, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Wayne County. No. 01-CF-36 Honorable David L. Underwood, Judge, presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Chapman

As modified July 22, 2003.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
WILLIAM E. GROVE, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Wayne County. No. 01-CF-36 Honorable David L. Underwood, Judge, presiding.

Attorneys for Appellant: Hon. Kevin Kakac, Wayne County State's Attorney, Wayne County Courthouse, Fairfield, IL 62837; Norbert J. Goetten, Director, Stephen E. Norris, Deputy Director, Patrick D. Daly, Staff Attorney, Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor, Route 15 East, P.O. Box 2249, Mt. Vernon, IL 62864

Attorney for Appellee: Alan C. Downen, 204 North Washington Street, McLeansboro, IL 62859

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Chapman

UNPUBLIHSED

The State charged the defendant, William E. Grove, with driving while his license was revoked (625 ILCS 5/6-303(d) (West 2000)), after a routine traffic stop for apparently driving a car without a valid registration. The defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence, arguing that the police officer exceeded the permissible scope of the traffic stop by checking the defendant's license after discovering that the defendant's car registration was valid. The trial court granted the defendant's motion to suppress. The State appeals pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 604(a)(1) (188 Ill. 2d R. 604(a)(1)), arguing that the officer acted properly because checking a driver's license is standard procedure during a routine traffic stop. We reverse the trial court's ruling.

I. BACKGROUND

On February 3, 2001, at approximately 5:15 a.m., officer Jayson Murbarger observed the defendant's car. The registration tag was obscured by dust and dirt, so Officer Murbarger could not read it. To determine whether the defendant's registration was valid, Officer Murbarger checked the defendant's license plate number through a computer. While doing so, he followed the defendant's car. He estimated that he followed the defendant for approximately seven blocks. During this time, the defendant committed no traffic violations. The computer report indicated that defendant's registration had expired in November 1999 and that the license plate was registered to a car other than the car the defendant was driving. As a result of this information, Officer Murbarger stopped the defendant.

Officer Murbarger told the defendant the reason for the stop and asked him for his driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance. The defendant told the officer that he did have a valid registration for the car and gave him the requested documentation. Officer Murbarger took the documents back to his patrol car, where he looked at them and checked the defendant's driver's license number through the computer. Although the officer was not certain in which order he had looked at the documents, he unequivocally testified that he had requested all three at the same time. Upon inspecting the registration card, Officer Murbarger determined that it was valid for the car that the defendant was driving. At some point, he inspected the sticker on the defendant's plate and determined that it was valid as well, although he does not recall exactly when this occurred. As a result of checking the defendant's driver's license through the computer, Officer Murbarger discovered that it had been revoked. He issued the defendant a citation for that offense.

On February 9, 2001, the State charged the defendant by information with driving while license revoked (625 ILCS 5/6-303(d) (West 2000)). On July 12, 2001, the defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence against him, contending that Officer Murbarger impermissibly extended the investigatory stop beyond the time needed to discover that his registration was valid. The court held a hearing on September 19, 2001, at which time it granted the defendant's motion to suppress. The State filed a motion to reconsider, which the court denied on November 14, 2001. The State filed a ...


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