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People v. Colquitt

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District

September 20, 2013

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
GARRY COLQUITT, Defendant-Appellee.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. YT-242-966-968 Honorable Noreen Daly, Judge Presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE GORDON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Lampkin and Reyes concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

GORDON PRESIDING JUSTICE

¶ 1 Defendant Garry Colquitt was charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and blocking a roadway. Following a suppression hearing, the trial court granted defendant's pretrial motion to quash his arrest and suppress evidence of his statements and field sobriety and Breathalyzer test results. The trial court suppressed the arrest and the evidence on the grounds: (1) that defendant was seized, for fourth amendment purposes, at the moment when a police vehicle pulled behind defendant's vehicle, which was parked on the road, in a lane of traffic and without hazard lights; (2) and that the officer lacked either reasonable suspicion or probable cause to justify this alleged seizure.

¶ 2 On this appeal, the State argues: (1) that a seizure did not occur until a later point in time when the arresting officer noticed a strong smell of alcohol about defendant and observed that defendant's eyes were bloodshot and his speech was slurred; and (2) that, even if a seizure did occur at the moment when the officer pulled his vehicle behind defendant's parked vehicle, the officer had probable cause to arrest defendant for a traffic violation committed in his presence, namely, the blocking of the roadway. The State further argues that any alleged seizure was also justified under the community caretaking exception.

¶ 3 For the following reasons, we conclude that no seizure occurred when the police vehicle pulled behind defendant's parked vehicle. Since we decide the appeal on this ground, we do not reach the State's remaining arguments.

¶ 4 BACKGROUND

¶ 5 On May 3, 2011, the State charged defendant with DUI and with stopping, standing or parking upon a roadway outside of a business or residence district. 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a), 11-1301(a) (West 2010). Section 11-1301(a) states in full:

"Outside a business or residence district, no person shall stop, park or leave standing any vehicle, whether attended or unattended, upon the roadway when it is practicable to stop, park or so leave such vehicle off the roadway, but in every event an unobstructed width of the highway opposite a standing vehicle shall be left for the free passage of other vehicles and clear view of such stopped vehicle shall be available from a distance of 200 feet in each direction upon such highway." 625 ILCS 5/11-1301(a) (West 2010).

¶ 6 Defendant moved to quash the arrest and suppress evidence obtained as a result of his arrest. On January 26, 2012, the trial court held a suppression hearing. At the hearing, the evidence consisted of: (1) the arresting officer's testimony; (2) a video recording from the arresting police officer's vehicle; and (3) an audio police dispatch recording.

¶ 7 Officer Wood[1] of the Tinley Park police department testified that he had been a police officer for six years with the Tinley Park police department. On May 2, 2011, at 11:50 p.m., he was working alone in a marked police vehicle and driving southbound on 80th Avenue in Tinley Park when he observed defendant's vehicle traveling westbound on 183rd Street.

¶ 8 Wood testified he then made a left-hand turn on to 183rd Street heading eastbound. 183rd Street consisted of four lanes of traffic, two eastbound and two westbound lanes, which were separated by a median. Wood traveled less than a block on 183rd Street when he observed, in his rearview mirror, defendant's vehicle stopped in the roadway blocking the right-hand lane of 183rd Street. Wood completed a "U-turn" and parked behind the vehicle, which was parked 75 feet from the intersection of 80th Avenue and 183rd Street.

¶ 9 Wood testified that before he approached defendant's parked vehicle he advised dispatch of the vehicle's license plate number and location. He then approached the passenger side of the vehicle. He had a conversation with defendant, who was seated on the driver's side of the vehicle, and then advised dispatch of defendant's driver's license number. Defendant informed Wood that he was parked in the road because he dropped his wallet. Shortly thereafter two additional police officers arrived on the scene, Officer Dubish and Sergeant Popp.[2] Wood asked defendant to exit his vehicle and instructed defendant to complete various field sobriety tests. After defendant completed the tests, Wood placed defendant under arrest for DUI, and Sergeant Popp called for a tow truck to remove defendant's vehicle.

ΒΆ 10 Wood testified that defendant completed a Breathalyzer test once they arrived at the police station which showed defendant's blood alcohol content was 0.169. He asked defendant questions from the alcohol ...


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