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The People of the State of Illinois v. Eric Arrendondo

March 9, 2012

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ERIC ARRENDONDO,
DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit Will County, Illinois, Circuit No. 10 DT 1590 The Honorable Robert Livas, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McDADE

JUSTICE McDADE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Justice Wright concurred in the judgment and opinion.

Justice Holdridge dissented, with opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 Defendant, Eric Arrendondo, was charged by uniform traffic citation with driving under the influence (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(4) (West 2010)). Following a hearing, the trial court granted defendant's motion to rescind his statutory summary suspension. We reverse and remand.

¶ 2 FACTS

¶ 3 Defendant was charged with driving under the influence (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(4) (West 2010)). Defendant refused to submit to chemical testing, and a statutory summary suspension was imposed. Defendant filed a petition to rescind the statutory summary suspension of his driver's license. The following evidence was adduced at the hearing on defendant's petition.

¶ 4 The only person to testify was Russell Prucnicki. Prucnicki was employed as a police officer with the Village of Plainfield (the Village). Prucnicki had been trained at Triton College, where he had been instructed in the identification of cannabis. He was later trained to identify cannabis in both its burnt and unburnt forms at a training run by the Village. Prucnicki has encountered both forms of cannabis many times in his career as a police officer. Based upon his training and experience as a police officer, Prucnicki could identify the smell of unburnt cannabis and the smell of burnt cannabis (two distinctly different smells), and he learned that glossy, bloodshot eyes were a possible indicator that a person had been smoking cannabis.

¶ 5 Prucnicki testified that he was on patrol duty when he noticed a motor vehicle being driven in front of him that did not have the rear registration plate light illuminated and had some objects hanging from the rearview mirror, which obstructed the view of the driver.

¶ 6 Prucnicki followed the vehicle for about half a mile before initiating a traffic stop. There was nothing unusual about the vehicle's speed or the manner in which it was being driven. The only traffic violations Prucnicki witnessed before stopping the vehicle were the obstructed view and lack of a registration light. The driver of the vehicle turned into a parking lot and pulled into a parking spot. Prucnicki identified defendant as the driver of the vehicle.

¶ 7 Prucnicki approached the vehicle. As Prucnicki approached, defendant rolled down the car window and Prucnicki smelled a strong odor of unburnt cannabis. Prucnicki requested defendant's driver's license and insurance information. Defendant seemed nervous, slightly agitated, and his hands were trembling a little bit, which Prucnicki found significant. Prucnicki informed defendant of the reasons for the stop and asked where he was coming from. Defendant said he was coming from a tavern in town and that he had consumed two beers over the course of about two hours.

¶ 8 As Prucnicki was speaking to defendant, Prucnicki could smell burnt cannabis on defendant's breath. Prucnicki could tell from the odor of cannabis on defendant's breath that there was some amount of cannabis in defendant's system, although he could not tell exactly how much cannabis.

¶ 9 Prucnicki then asked defendant if he had any drugs in the car. Defendant told Prucnicki that he had some weed, and defendant retrieved a one-hitter from his pocket and handed it to Prucnicki. A one-hitter is a small pipe used for smoking cannabis. The one-hitter contained a green, leafy substance along with some tar-like residue.

ΒΆ 10 After receiving the one-hitter from defendant, Prucnicki returned to his squad car, called for backup, and ran defendant's license which came up as suspended. Upon the arrival of another officer, Prucnicki approached the vehicle again. Prucnicki had defendant exit the vehicle and step to the rear of the vehicle, at which time he asked defendant if he had any other drugs on him. Defendant said he had some weed and handed Prucnicki a translucent bag containing about a gram of cannabis. Prucnicki ...


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