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The People of the State of Illinois v. Bruce E. Wright

September 16, 2011


Appeal from Circuit Court of Livingston County No. 09CF170 Honorable Robert M. Travers, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Steigmann

No. 2011 IL App (4th) 100047

JUSTICE STEIGMANN delivered the judgment of the court with opinion.

Justice Turner concurred in the judgment and opinion.

Justice Cook specially concurred, with opinion.


¶ 1 Following an August 2009 bench trial, the trial court convicted defendant, Bruce E. Wright, of (1) driving while his privilege to operate a motor vehicle was revoked (DWR) (625 ILCS 5/6-303(a) (West 2008)) and (2) aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or more (625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(1)(G) (West 2008)). The court had earlier denied defendant's motion to suppress evidence of (1) the statements he made at the time of his arrest and (2) the toxicology results of his blood and urine tests. In October 2009, the court sentenced defendant to two extended-term sentences of four years in prison, to be served concurrently.

¶ 2 Defendant appeals, arguing only that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence. We disagree and affirm.


¶ 4 A. The State's Charges and Defendant's Motion To Suppress

¶ 5 In June 2009, the State charged defendant with DWR (625 ILCS 5/6-303(a) (West 2008)). In July 2009, defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence, arguing, in pertinent part, that because the arresting officer, Livingston County deputy sheriff Derrick Renken, did not inform him of his constitutional rights pursuant to the United States Supreme Court's holding in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602 (1966), when Renken placed him in the back seat of his squad car, any subsequent statements or evidence police obtained should be suppressed.

¶ 6 The State later filed an amended information, charging defendant with the following additional offenses: (1) aggravated DUI (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(2), (d)(1)(G) (West 2008)); (2) aggravated DUI with a BAC of 0.08 or more (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(1), (d)(1)(G) (West 2008)); and (3) aggravated DUI (combined influence of alcohol or intoxicating compound(s)) other drug(s) (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(5), (d)(1)(G) (West 2008)).

¶ 7 At the August 2009 hearing on defendant's motion to suppress evidence, Renken was the only witness. He testified that on June 22, 2009, he was traveling south in his patrol car when he saw defendant--whom he had known from previous encounters--driving north in a sport utility vehicle (SUV). Because Renken knew that defendant's driving privileges had been revoked, he decided to perform a traffic stop. After making a U-turn, Renken lost sight of the SUV. Renken surmised that defendant had turned at the approaching intersection. After turning west at that intersection and realizing that the SUV was not traveling westbound, Renken performed another U-turn and traveled east. After driving a short distance, Renken noticed that defendant was a passenger in a car that was driven by a woman, who Renken later determined was Geraldine Russo. Renken followed the car, which returned to the street where Renken initially saw the SUV, and observed that it pulled into a driveway a couple of houses away from defendant's home. As Renken drove past the driveway, defendant exited the car. Renken proceeded to the end of the block before returning to the driveway to speak with Russo.

¶ 8 Russo informed Renken that she saw defendant walking from the grocery store and offered him a ride, which he accepted. After defendant left Russo's car, he walked across the street to a home owned by Robert Morgan, Sr. Renken went there and informed Morgan that he wanted to speak with defendant. Defendant came out and told Renken that he had just been released from jail. Renken informed defendant that he had seen defendant driving and that he knew defendant's license had been revoked. Defendant responded that he was "going up to the grocery store to get his dog some bones." As defendant spoke, Renken noticed the odor of alcohol on his breath. Renken asked defendant if he had been drinking. Defendant responded that he had been drinking and then made a gesture with his hand that demonstrated he had consumed six inches of alcohol but did not otherwise identify the type of alcohol he had consumed. Renken asked defendant where his SUV was located. After defendant responded, Renken told defendant that we are "going to make contact with the [SUV]."

¶ 9 Renken acknowledged that when he contacted defendant outside of Morgan's residence, he knew defendant had violated the law by driving. Renken did not arrest defendant at that time because he wanted to investigate further based on defendant's admission that he had consumed alcohol, which was consistent with the alcohol odor emanating from his breath.

Renken stated that defendant voluntarily accompanied him to the grocery store parking lot in the backseat of his squad car, uncuffed, and with the rear windows down. Renken explained that he was complying with the county's safety policy by not transporting defendant in the front seat of his squad car. After a brief ride, Renken located the SUV. In response to Renken's question, defendant confirmed that he owned the SUV located in the grocery store parking lot.

ΒΆ 10 Renken then informed defendant that he would be administering a series of sobriety tests because he believed that defendant was intoxicated. After defendant failed three of four field sobriety tests, Renken asked him to submit to a preliminary breath-screening test, which he refused. Renken arrested defendant and transported him to the county jail. While there, defendant voluntarily attempted, unsuccessfully, to perform a Breathalyzer test but agreed to provide blood and urine samples. Renken acknowledged that (1) after defendant approached him in Morgan's front yard, defendant would not have been free to leave had he attempted to do so because Renken would ...

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