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People v. Ewing

November 29, 2007


Appeal from Circuit Court of Coles County No. 07DT19 Honorable Brian O'Brien, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Myerscough

In January 2007, defendant, James C. Ewing, was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(2) (West 2006)). Defendant's driving privileges were thereafter summarily suspended by the Secretary of State, pursuant to sections 11-501.1(e) and 6-208.1(a)(3) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/11-501.1(e), 6-208(a)(3) (West 2006)).

In January 2007, defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence and a petition to rescind the statutory summary suspension. Following a February 2007 hearing, the trial court granted the motion and petition.

The State appeals, arguing the trial court erred by granting defendant's motion to suppress because the police officer had a reasonable, articulable suspicion to justify a Terry stop (Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 20 L.Ed. 2d 889, 88 S.Ct. 1868 (1968)). We agree and reverse.


At the February 2007 hearing, Officer Michael Sanders testified he was employed by the Coles County sheriff's department. On January 23, 2007, at approximately 12:56 p.m., Officer Sanders overheard a dispatch from the 9-1-1 dispatch center to the Charleston police department. When asked what he heard over the dispatch, Officer Sanders testified:

"I believe it was that an employee of Crestline Veterinary Clinic believed that the defendant was intoxicated and he left in a green pickup truck with another white male heading eastbound possibly toward Paris, Illinois[,] and the driver, Mr. Ewing, was possibly intoxicated."

Officer Sanders also heard a license plate number and vehicle description.

Officer Sanders further testified he overheard a Charleston police officer state that he was going to try to intercept the driver of the vehicle. Officer Sanders cut short his lunch, got in his squad car, and headed eastbound. Officer Sanders waited for the suspect vehicle at Harrison Street and Route 16. Within a matter of seconds, Officer Sanders saw the suspect vehicle. Charleston police officer Hank Pauls was in a vehicle behind the suspect vehicle. Officer Sanders did not notice any traffic infractions by the suspect vehicle. However, Officer Sanders activated his overheard emergency lights and pulled onto Route 16 traveling eastbound ahead of Lieutenant Pauls. The driver of the vehicle, defendant, pulled over.

Officer Sanders notified dispatch of the location.

Officer Sanders walked up to the vehicle to address defendant. Officer Sanders did not conduct any field-sobriety testing. No questions were asked of Officer Sanders about what occurred after he addressed defendant.

On cross-examination, Officer Sanders further testified that the information he had when he stopped defendant's vehicle included the license plate number, the registered owner, the type of vehicle, the direction and the place the vehicle was traveling, and that the call was made by an employee of Crestline. Officer Sanders knew Crestline was a veterinary clinic between Charleston and Mattoon.

Lieutenant Pauls of the Charleston police department testified that on January 23, 2007, he heard a dispatch to another officer, "Officer Craig," that two intoxicated individuals had left Crestline and were proceeding eastbound on Route 16 in a green Chevrolet pickup truck with license plate 2377GJ. The dispatch originated from the multijurisdictional central-dispatch service located near the airport. Lieutenant Pauls asked the dispatcher whether an employee of Crestline had made the phone call. The dispatcher informed Lieutenant Pauls that, "'Yes, indeed, an employee had called.'" Based on that dispatch, Lieutenant Pauls attempted to locate the vehicle.

Lieutenant Pauls located the vehicle at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue (we take judicial notice of the fact that in this area of Charleston, Route 16 is also known as Lincoln Avenue) and First Street heading eastbound. Lieutenant Pauls radioed the location to dispatch. At one point, Lieutenant Pauls was stopped at Fourth Street and Lincoln Avenue while the suspect vehicle was stopped at Ninth Street and Lincoln Avenue. Lieutenant Pauls was able to get into a position to observe the vehicle closely at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Hawthorn, near the Wal-Mart Superstore. Lieutenant Pauls confirmed then that it was the suspect vehicle. Lieutenant Pauls did not observe the vehicle commit any traffic infractions.

After Officer Sanders effectuated a stop of defendant's vehicle, Officer Sanders approached the vehicle. Lieutenant Pauls also approached the vehicle and stood at the right rear corner of the vehicle. Defendant, the driver, made a statement that he "could not do any field[-]sobriety testing at the scene."

On cross-examination, Lieutenant Pauls testified he encountered a lot of traffic on Lincoln Avenue and had difficulty catching up to the vehicle because of the traffic.

The defense rested. The State called Adam Brazzell. Brazzell testified he was employed with Coles County 9-1-1. His duties included receiving emergency and non-emergency calls, some of which go to law enforcement and other emergency agencies.

Brazzell testified that on January 23, 2007, at approximately 12:45 p.m., he received a call. Brazzell testified that calls are recorded in the database. He listened to the recording of the call before coming in to court, and it accurately depicted the conversation he had with the caller at that time.

After receiving the phone call, Brazzell "disseminated that to our Charleston officers with the Charleston radio frequency." When asked whether he gave the officers any information about who placed the call, Brazzell testified he "advised them that it was an employee of Crestline."

The State sought to admit the audiotape of the 9-1-1 call and resulting dispatch. Defendant objected, arguing that the only relevant evidence is what the officers said was the basis of their stop. The State argued the tape was relevant to the question of the caller's reliability. The State also argued that information known to the dispatcher could be imputed to the ...

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