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People v. Harris

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

May 18, 2015

HARRIS, Defendant-Appellant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign County. No. 13CF1750. Honorable Richard P. Klaus, Judge Presiding.

James A. Martinkus (argued), of Erwin, Martinkus & Cole, Ltd., of Champaign, for appellant.

Julia Rietz, State's Attorney, of Urbana (Patrick Delfino, David J. Robinson, and Allison Paige Brooks (argued), all of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Pope and Justice Harris concurred in the judgment and opinion.



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[¶1] Following an April 2014 stipulated bench trial, defendant, Jackie V. Harris, was convicted of one count of aggravated driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and one count of aggravated driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of greater than 0.08 in violation of statute. 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a), (d)(2)(D) (West 2012). The trial court sentenced defendant to 13 years' imprisonment. Defendant appeals, arguing (1) the trial court erred in finding defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) the court erred in refusing to suppress evidence illegally seized; and (3) the court abused its discretion in sentencing defendant to 13 years' imprisonment. We affirm.


[¶3] Count I of the information, filed October 18, 2013, charged defendant with aggravated DUI, alleging defendant drove a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Count II, filed December 17, 2013, charged defendant with aggravated driving with a BAC greater than 0.08, alleging defendant drove a vehicle with a BAC greater than 0.08. Both charges alleged defendant had four times previously committed DUI, making the charges Class 1 felonies pursuant to statute. 625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(2)(D) (West 2012).

[¶4] After denying defendant's pretrial motion to suppress his BAC, the trial court held a stipulated bench trial based on a stipulation of facts drafted bye the State and signed by defense counsel. The trial court found defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on both charges. Defendant then filed a posttrial motion for a new trial and a motion to vacate the conviction and enter a judgment of not guilty notwithstanding the verdict. The court denied both motions and sentenced defendant to 13 years' imprisonment following a sentencing hearing. Defendant filed a motion to reconsider his sentence, which the court also denied.

[¶5] A. The Underlying Events

[¶6] On the evening of October 3, 2013, Cameron Garney called 9-1-1 to report a gray Volvo with Illinois license plate L845333 driving in the wrong lane of traffic and through stop signs without stopping. Urbana police officer Ronald Timmons received a dispatch at 9:35 p.m. concerning a possible DUI. Timmons found a gray Volvo in the reported area going approximately 10 miles per hour. Timmons attempted to initiate a traffic stop and activated his siren multiple times as he followed the Volvo. The Volvo entered the wrong lane of traffic, veered back into the proper lane, and came to a halt. Timmons approached the vehicle and knocked on the window to get defendant's attention.

[¶7] Upon initiating contact with defendant, Timmons observed the following indicators of impairment: defendant had coordination issues when trying to remove the keys from the vehicle's ignition; defendant spoke in a soft mumble; defendant smelled strongly of alcohol and had bloodshot eyes; defendant admitted drinking two beers; defendant lacked the basic dexterity to retrieve his driver's license and insurance

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without concentrated effort; and defendant had trouble following questions and answering appropriately. Timmons asked defendant to perform field sobriety tests and defendant agreed, but he advised the officer he had problems with the right side of his body due to a stroke, necessitating the use of a cane. Timmons explained and demonstrated the finger-to-thumb test before asking defendant to perform the test. After defendant was told to begin the test, he counted to four while touching the tips of his fingers to his tongue. Timmons again explained the test and defendant performed the test, touching his fingers to his thumb slowly and counting out of sequence.

[¶8] Defendant performed the ABC test with no issues. Finally, Timmons asked defendant to count backward from 77 to 54. " The defendant started with the test but quickly started mumbling. He recited some random numbers, some of which were not in the sequence requested or even in a counting manner." Timmons performed no further field sobriety tests because defendant was unable to stand or balance.

[¶9] Urbana police officers Shaun Cook and Matthew McKinney arrived at the scene at about 9:54 p.m. Timmons advised the officers he believed defendant was under the influence of alcohol. McKinney noticed the defendant smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot eyes, and had problems balancing. McKinney and Timmons arrested defendant and McKinney transported defendant to Carle Foundation Hospital at 10:10 p.m. Once there, McKinney wrote defendant a DUI citation and then read defendant the warning to motorist. He explained the chemical tests to be conducted and " defendant indicated he understood and was willing to provide the samples." At 11:31 p.m., Julie Hankins took a blood sample from defendant. At 11:36 p.m., Hankins took a urine sample from defendant. Ultimately, these samples showed defendant had a BAC of 0.303.

[¶10] At 11:43 p.m., McKinney advised defendant of his rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). Thereafter, defendant admitted he ate dinner around 5 p.m. and began drinking around 8 p.m. He stated he consumed three or four beers. He stated he was on his way to Merry Ann's Diner for breakfast. McKinney transported defendant to the Champaign County jail, where defendant was booked and given copies of his DUI citation and the warning-to-motorist form.

[¶11] B. Pretrial Motion To Suppress

[¶12] Prior to the stipulated bench trial, defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence of his BAC. Defendant argued no exigent circumstances justified a warrantless blood draw, and McKinney did not obtain a warrant for the blood test. Because the body naturally metabolizing alcohol does not present a per se exigency, nothing justified an exception to the warrant requirement. Defendant also argued he did not consent to the blood test and, even if he did consent, any consent was invalid as it was not informed consent nor was it voluntary consent. Because the warning to motorist did not inform the defendant the results of the blood test could be used against him in a criminal trial, his consent was not informed.

[¶13] At a hearing on the motion to suppress, defendant testified he was given a copy of the warning to motorist but no one explained the results of the blood test could be used against him in a criminal prosecution. He testified he was " [j]ust following orders" when he agreed to the testing, and he felt he had no choice in the matter. On cross-examination, defendant testified he did not tell the nurse or the

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officer he did not want the blood test or the urine test.

[¶14] McKinney testified he arrived at the scene after Timmons performed the field sobriety tests. He noticed defendant smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech. He arrested defendant for DUI and took defendant into custody. McKinney then placed defendant in the back of the squad car and took him to Carle Foundation Hospital. McKinney testified he provided defendant with the warning to motorist and Cook provided a lay explanation of the contents of the warning. McKinney further testified he did not recall explaining to defendant the results of the tests could be used against him in a criminal prosecution.

[¶15] The trial court found the only discrepancy in the testimony was whether defendant received an oral explanation of the warning to motorist. The court also found defendant's testimony, both on direct and cross, showed he consented to the testing. The court denied the motion to suppress. Following the court's ruling, defense counsel told the court, " There's a very high percent, ...

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