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People v. Smith

January 09, 2004

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
PAUL A. SMITH, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
GEORGE NELSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 01--CF--3030 Honorable George J. Bakalis, Judge, Presiding.; Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 02--CF--559 Honorable George J. Bakalis, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Gilleran Johnson

PUBLISHED

In case No. 01--CF--3030, the defendant, Paul Smith, was convicted of aggravated driving while license revoked (DWLR) (625 ILCS 5/6--303(a), (d) (West 2000)), a Class 4 felony. Smith was sentenced to 60 days' imprisonment in the Du Page County jail and two years' probation. On appeal, Smith argues that, in sentencing him as a Class 4 felony DWLR offender, the trial court improperly considered a prior conviction of driving under the influence (DUI) that had resulted from a bond forfeiture.

In case No. 02--CF--559, the defendant, George Nelson, was convicted of aggravated DUI (625 ILCS 5/11--501(a)(2), (c-1)(3) (West 2002)), a Class 2 felony, and of obstructing justice (720 ILCS 5/31--4(a) (West 2002)), a Class 4 felony. Nelson was sentenced to two concurrent terms of six years' imprisonment in the Illinois Department of Corrections. On appeal, Nelson argues that, in sentencing him as a Class 2 DUI felony offender, the trial court improperly considered a prior conviction of DUI that had resulted from a bond forfeiture. He additionally argues that the trial court erred in imposing an extended-term sentence for his obstructing justice conviction.

At issue in both case No. 01--CF--3030 and case No. 02--CF--559 is whether a trial court may consider a conviction that arose from a bond forfeiture in imposing an enhanced sentence. Therefore, on July 18, 2003, we consolidated the two cases to facilitate review of that issue.

BACKGROUND

Case No. 01--CF--3030

On October 26, 2001, Smith was charged by indictment with aggravated DWLR (625 ILCS 5/6--303(a), (d) (West 2000)). The indictment alleged that (1) Smith had committed the offense while his driver's license was revoked for DUI and (2) Smith previously had been convicted of DWLR.

The trial court conducted a bench trial. Wheaton police officer Dennis Smith testified that on October 26, 2001, he observed a vehicle traveling on Butterfield Road at a high rate of speed. Officer Dennis Smith used a handheld radar device and determined that the vehicle was traveling 62 miles per hour. The speed limit on Butterfield Road was 40 miles per hour. Officer Dennis Smith stopped the vehicle, which was driven by Smith. When officer Dennis Smith asked Smith for his license, Smith stated that his license was revoked.

The State introduced a driver's abstract from the Illinois Secretary of State's office. The driver's abstract revealed that Smith's driver's license had been revoked since 1986 due to a DUI conviction. The 1986 conviction and subsequent revocation resulted from a bond forfeiture. The driver's abstract further revealed that Smith had previously committed offenses of DWLR in 2000 and in August 2001. Following the trial, the trial court found Smith guilty of DWLR.

At the sentencing hearing, the trial court determined that the 1986 bond forfeiture conviction of DUI and subsequent revocation could be considered for purposes of enhancing Smith's DWLR offense under section 6--303(d) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Vehicle Code) (625 ILCS 5/6--303(d) (West 2000)). In considering Smith's prior DUI conviction, along with his previous convictions of DWLR, the trial court sentenced Smith, as a Class 4 DWLR offender, to 60 days' imprisonment in the Du Page County jail and 2 years' probation. Smith thereafter filed a timely appeal.

Case No. 02--CF--559

On March 26, 2002, Nelson was charged by indictment with aggravated DUI (625 ILCS 5/11--501(a)(2), (c-1)(3) (West 2002)). The indictment alleged that (1) Nelson committed the offense while his driver's license was revoked for DUI and (2) Nelson had previously committed three or more violations of DUI. Nelson was also charged by indictment with obstructing justice (720 ILCS 5/31--4(a) (West 2002)).

The trial court held a stipulated bench trial on the aggravated DUI charge. At the trial, the State proffered that on January 7, 2002, Wheaton police officer Claiendo conducted a traffic stop on a motor vehicle driven by Nelson for improper lane usage and failure to signal. Officer Claiendo observed that Nelson had red and glassy eyes, a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, and slurred speech. Nelson had difficulty performing field sobriety tests. Nelson admitted to Officer Claiendo that he had been drinking. Following the introduction of this stipulated evidence, the trial court found Nelson guilty of DUI.

Nelson pleaded guilty to the obstructing justice charge. According to the State, when Nelson was arrested on January 7, 2002, for DUI, he told police that his name was Charles Racer. Nelson also presented police with false identification.

At the sentencing hearing, the State presented a driver's abstract from the Illinois Secretary of State's office. The driver's abstract revealed that Nelson's driver's license had been revoked since 1966 for DUI. The driver's abstract further revealed that Nelson had five prior convictions of DUI, two in 1966 and one in 1971, 1986, and 1995. Nelson's convictions of DUI in 1966 and 1971 were the result of bond forfeitures.

The trial court determined that the bond forfeiture convictions of DUI could be considered for purposes of enhancing Nelson's DUI offense under section 11--501 (c-1)(3) of the Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/11--501(c-1)(3) (West 2002)). The trial court subsequently sentenced Nelson, as a Class 2 DUI offender, to a term of six years' imprisonment in the Illinois Department of Corrections on the aggravated DUI conviction. The trial court sentenced Nelson to a maximum extended term of six years' imprisonment in the Illinois Department of Corrections on the obstruction of justice conviction. The court ordered that Nelson's sentences run concurrently. Following the denial of his motion to reconsider sentence, Nelson filed a timely appeal.

DISCUSSION

Case No. 01--CF--3030

On appeal, Smith contends that the trial court improperly considered a prior DUI conviction and revocation that had resulted from a bond forfeiture in sentencing him as a Class 4 felony DWLR offender. Section 6--303(a) of the Vehicle Code ...


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