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The People of the State of Illinois v. Seth R. Hansen

April 3, 2012


Appeal from Circuit Court of Jersey County No. 11DT9 Honorable Eric S. Pistorius, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Steigmann

JUSTICE STEIGMANN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Appleton and Knecht concurred in the judgment and opinion.


¶ 1 On February 17, 2011, police arrested defendant, Seth R. Hansen, for driving under the influence (DUI) (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(2) (West 2010)). Prior to trial, defendant filed a petition to rescind his statutory summary suspension and a motion to "quash arrest." The trial court granted defendant's petition and motion, finding that the arresting officer lacked reasonable suspicion to stop defendant's truck.

¶ 2 The State appeals, arguing that the trial court erred by granting defendant's petition and motion. We reverse and remand.


¶ 4 In February 2011, defendant filed a petition to rescind the statutory summary suspension, arguing that Deputy Kevin Ayres did not have reasonable suspicion to effectuate the stop that later led to his being arrested for DUI because Ayres did not observe defendant committing a traffic violation. He further argued that the telephone call to dispatch was not sufficiently reliable to support an investigatory stop.

¶ 5 The following background was garnered from the March 2011 hearing on defendant's petition to rescind, at which (1) Ayres and defendant testified, and (2) the trial court admitted into evidence the contents of the 9-1-1 dispatch recording.

¶ 6 On February 17, 2011, at approximately 5:39 p.m., 12-year-old Carson Smith placed a 9-1-1 call from Fieldon, Illinois, reporting that a truck was doing "donuts" in the road- that is, the truck was being driven "quickly in repeated, tight circles" (see Chamblin v. State, 994 So. 2d 1165, 1166 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2008) (per curiam) (defining the phrase "spinning a donut")). Carson identified the vehicle as a single-cab, black, GMC truck, with "big rims," a black dog in the back, and a sticker on the rear window reading "All Types Landscaping." Carson also indicated that two men were in the front of the truck, adding that a "four-year-old" was in the backseat. After learning Carson was a minor, the 9-1-1 dispatcher directed Carson to put his mother on the telephone.

¶ 7 Pam Smith, Carson's mother, told the dispatcher that a black truck was "hot rodding" up and down the street and doing "donuts." She said she "heard the truck speeding up *** [and] came outside to see what was going on." Pam confirmed that the phrase "All Types Landscaping" was written on the truck's rear window. She further explained that (1) a black dog was in the back of the truck and (2) two men were in the cab. Pam doubted, however, a child was in the backseat. She told the dispatcher that she thought the vehicle was a black Ford pickup. The dispatcher asked Pam to clarify the make and model of the truck because Carson had identified it as a black GMC. Pam responded "the boys said a GMC, I wouldn't know." Finally, she reported that the men in the truck had been "running up and down through Fieldon," were "screaming and hollering," and that she "didn't know if they had been drinking."

¶ 8 Shortly thereafter, the dispatcher contacted Ayres and relayed the information that Carson and Pam had reported. After the first call to dispatch, but before defendant was stopped, the dispatcher received a second call from Carson with information that the truck had left Fieldon and was heading toward Jerseyville, Illinois, on Route 16. This information was also relayed to Ayres.

¶ 9 Ayres observed a black GMC truck traveling eastbound on Route 16, coming from the direction of Fieldon, with a black dog in the back, and the phrase "All Types Landscaping" written across the rear window. The truck did not have a backseat and defendant was the sole occupant. Ayres did not observe any other vehicles in the area that fit the description provided by dispatch. Ayres testified that he stopped defendant at approximately 5:45 p.m. (Defendant's ticket also indicated that he was stopped at 5:45 p.m.) After Ayres effectuated the stop, he detected a strong smell of alcohol emanating from defendant's breath and vehicle. Ayres subsequently arrested defendant for DUI.

¶ 10 On this evidence, the trial court granted defendant's petition, finding that (1) the time delay between the first and second 9-1-1 calls and (2) the presence of one individual in the truck instead of two as relayed in the calls supported the conclusion that the four factors for determining the reliability of an informant's tip as outlined in People v. Shafer, 372 Ill. App. 3d 1044, 868 N.E.2d 359 (2007), had not been met.

¶ 11 Defendant also filed a motion to "quash arrest." Regarding that motion, the trial court concluded that based upon its finding that Ayres did not have reasonable suspicion to stop defendant, any evidence that resulted from the stop would be "considered fruit of the poisonous tree." Because the court found that the State could not present any other evidence supporting its DUI claim, the court granted defendant's motion.

¶ 12 This appeal followed.


¶ 14 The State appeals, arguing that the trial court erred by granting defendant's petition and motion. Specifically, the State contends that (1) the quantity and detail of the information was such that Ayres could be certain that the vehicle stopped was the vehicle identified by Carson and Pam, (2) the time interval between the dispatch calls and the stop was sufficiently brief, (3) the tip was based on multiple contemporaneous eyewitness observations, and (4) the tip was sufficiently detailed to permit the reasonable inference that Carson and Pam actually witnessed what they described-namely, an ongoing motor vehicle offense. See Shafer, 372 Ill. App. 3d at 1050, 868 N.E.2d at 363; People v. Ewing, 377 Ill. App. 3d 585, 593, 880 N.E.2d 587, 594 (2007). We agree.

¶ 15 A. Standard of Review

¶ 16 Generally, a reviewing court will not reverse a trial court's decision on a petition to rescind a statutory summary suspension unless it is against the manifest weight of the evidence. Shafer, 372 Ill. App. 3d at 1053-54, 868 N.E.2d at 366. On appeal from a trial court's ruling on a motion to quash and suppress, the reviewing court "will accord great deference to the trial court's factual findings and will reverse those findings only if they are against the manifest weight of the evidence." People v. Close, 238 Ill. 2d 497, 504, 939 N.E.2d 463, 467 (2010).

However, the trial court's ultimate decision to grant or deny the motion is subject to de novo review. Id. The same standard of review applies to appeals from a trial court's ruling regarding a petition to rescind statutory summary suspension. Id.

¶ 17 B. This Court's Decision in Shafer

ΒΆ 18 In Shafer, the police received a call with information that an intoxicated person was causing a disturbance at the drive-thru window of a Wendy's restaurant. Shafer, 372 Ill. App. 3d at 1047, 868 N.E.2d at 361. The caller identified himself or herself as an employee of Wendy's. Id. This information was dispatched to a police officer. Id. That officer had no other information about the possible drunk driver or the Wendy's employee. Id. The officer quickly responded and arrived at the only Wendy's location in the area. Id. Upon arrival, the officer activated his overhead lights and stopped the vehicle. Id. The officer ...

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