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People v. Armer

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

October 27, 2014

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
JAKE P. ARMER, Defendant-Appellee

As Corrected.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Washington County. No. 12-DT-28. Honorable Eugene E. Gross, Judge, presiding.

SYLLABUS

In a prosecution for driving while under the influence of alcohol arising from a single-vehicle accident in which defendant's car rolled over and blood was drawn from him without his consent pursuant to an officer's directions after he was taken to a hospital, the trial court did not err in suppressing the results of the blood-alcohol analysis and prohibiting the State from presenting the incriminating evidence at defendant's trial, notwithstanding the State's contention that the exigent circumstances justified acting without a warrant, since the record showed that three officers were present to handle the situation, there was no evidence that securing a warrant would result in an unreasonable delay, and the officer who went to the hospital with defendant and directed that defendant's blood be drawn did not state that he faced an emergency and that crucial evidence would be lost if he took time to obtain a warrant; rather, he stated that a warrant was not necessary because he had probable cause and the implied consent law applied.

For Appellant: Hon. Heath Hooks, State's Attorney, Washington County Courthouse, Nashville, IL; Patrick Delfino, Director, Stephen E. Norris, Deputy Director, Patrick D. Daly, Staff Attorney, Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor, Fifth District Office, Mt. Vernon, IL.

For Appellee: Michael J. Pelletier, State Appellate Defender, Ellen J. Curry, Ellen J. Curry, Deputy Defender, Lawrence J. O'Neill, Assistant Appellate Defender, Office of the State Appellate Defender, Fifth Judicial District, Mt. Vernon, IL.

JUSTICE CATES delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Welch and Justice Chapman concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

CATES, JUSTICE.

Page 522

[¶1] The defendant, Jake P. Armer, was charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol in violation of sections 11-501(a)(1) and (2) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Code) (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(1), (2) (West 2012)). He filed a motion to suppress the results of a blood-alcohol analysis on grounds that his blood was drawn without his consent, without a warrant, and in the absence of exigent circumstances which would excuse the arresting officer from obtaining a search warrant. Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court found that the arresting officer was not faced with exigent circumstances that would justify acting without a warrant, and it granted the defendant's motion to suppress. The State filed a certificate of impairment and appealed. On appeal, the State claims that the trial court erred in finding that there was no exigency and in granting the defendant's motion to suppress, where the arresting officer could have reasonably believed that the time delay attendant to processing the motor vehicle accident and transporting the defendant to a hospital would lead to the destruction of evidence, namely the dissipation of alcohol from the defendant's blood. We affirm.

[¶2] The appeal was filed pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 604(a)(1) (eff. Jan. 1, 2013), and challenges the circuit court's order suppressing the results of a blood-alcohol analysis in a DUI case. Joshua Cross, a Washington County sheriff's deputy, was called by the defendant and was the only witness to testify at the

Page 523

suppression hearing. A summary of his testimony follows.

[¶3] Deputy Cross testified that he was dispatched to a rollover accident at 11:25 p.m. on June 30, 2012. He arrived at the scene at 11:35 p.m., and another officer, Corporal Bauer, pulled up moments later. Upon arrival, Deputy Cross observed a damaged vehicle. It had rolled over and was in a ditch. He also observed a man, later identified as the defendant, who was bloody, but walking around. An ambulance responded to the scene and transported the defendant to a hospital for evaluation. Deputy Cross followed the ambulance to the hospital, while Corporal Bauer remained at the scene. The ambulance departed the scene at 12:08 ...


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