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People v. Kathan

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

August 13, 2014

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
TANYA KATHAN, Defendant-Appellant

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 11-DT-2830. Honorable Theodore S. Potkonjak, Judge, Presiding.

SYLLABUS

Defendant's conviction for " drug-driving" was upheld over her contentions that there was no evidence that the Xanax and Vicodin that she admitted taking were still in her system when she was arrested and that the State failed to prove the " unlawful use" of those substances, since defendant admitted using the substances before driving, her level of impairment was circumstantial evidence that the drugs were in her system while she was driving, especially when she was weaving, she could not locate her license when it was plainly visible in her wallet, she was " very confused" and " very incoherent," she could not explain the damage to her vehicle, and she swayed and could not keep her balance during field sobriety tests, and there was sufficient evidence of " unlawful use," despite her claim that she took the medications pursuant to a valid prescription, because she did not satisfy her burden of proof by presenting evidence of a valid prescription and that she used the prescribed dosage.

Thomas A. Lilien and Kerry Goettsch, both of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Elgin, for appellant.

Michael G. Nerheim, State's Attorney, of Waukegan (Lawrence M. Bauer and Mary Beth Burns, both of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

JUSTICE SPENCE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Schostok and Hudson concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Page 366

SPENCE, JUSTICE.

[¶1] Following a bench trial, the trial court found defendant, Tanya Kathan, guilty of " drug-driving" under section 11-501(a)(6) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Vehicle Code) (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(6) (West 2010)). The court sentenced defendant to 12 months' court supervision and imposed a $500 fine. On appeal, defendant argues that the State's evidence was insufficient to prove her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. We affirm.

[¶2] I. BACKGROUND

[¶3] On December 10, 2011, the State charged defendant under section 11-501(a)(6) of the Vehicle Code, which prohibits operating a motor vehicle while there is any amount of a drug, substance, or compound in a defendant's breath, blood, or urine resulting from the unlawful use or consumption of a controlled substance. A bench trial occurred on August 10, 2012.

[¶4] The State's only witness was Lake County police officer Jonathan Pedraja, who testified as follows. On December 10, 2011, around 6:30 p.m., Officer Pedraja received a report of a reckless driver in a green Toyota Corolla. Officer Pedraja drove to the reported area and observed the car " weaving" in its own lane and crossing over the white fog line. As a result, Officer Pedraja conducted a traffic stop and asked the driver, defendant, for identification. When defendant opened her purse, she " frantically looked" for her driver's license and could not locate it even though it was clearly visible in her wallet. Defendant said that she and her passenger had been at a party, and she denied drinking, although Officer Pedraja could smell the odor of alcohol emanating from the car.

[¶5] Officer Pedraja had defendant exit the car, at which time he noticed some damage to her vehicle's ...


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