Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Third Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 17 C3 30219
Honorable Steven M. Wagner, Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE HOWSE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Ellis and Justice Cobbs concurred
in the judgment and opinion.
1 Following a bench trial, defendant, Stacey Groebe, was
convicted of aggravated driving under the influence of
alcohol (aggravated DUI) for committing DUI while having
three previous convictions for DUI or an equivalent offense.
Due to defendant's prior convictions, she was sentenced
as a Class 2 offender to three years in prison. On appeal,
defendant contends that (1) her right to a public trial was
violated when the video recording of the traffic stop and
field sobriety tests preceding her arrest was viewed by the
trial court in chambers and was not played in open court, (2)
the evidence was insufficient to show she was under the
influence of alcohol, and (3) the trial court's remarks
summarizing its ruling erroneously shifted the burden of
proof to the defense. We affirm.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 Defendant was charged with the Class 2 felony version of
aggravated DUI for driving under the influence of alcohol
while having three previous DUI violations (625 ILCS 5/11-
501(d)(1)(A), (d)(2)(C) (West 2016)). Defendant also was
charged with the Class 4 felony version of aggravated DUI for
driving under the influence of alcohol while her driving
privileges were revoked or suspended for a prior DUI
violation or for a similar offense (id. §
4 At trial, Roselle police officer David Hourigan testified
that at about 2 a.m. on April 1, 2017, he was in a police
vehicle in the area of Plum Grove Road and Nerge Road.
Hourigan saw two people leave the Strike Ten Lanes &
Lounge at closing time and get into a blue Ford Escape. The
individuals sat in the vehicle with the headlights on for
about 15 minutes.
5 Hourigan drove past the Escape and saw three people seated
inside. He parked across the street and started to run a
registration check on the Escape. Meanwhile, the Escape left
the parking lot and drove north on Plum Grove Road. Hourigan
followed the Escape as it turned onto Oriole Road. The Escape
parked on the right side of the street with the interior
6 Hourigan drove past the Escape, proceeded two blocks and
turned around on Oriole Road, passing the Escape from the
other direction and noting the interior lights were still on.
Hourigan drove back to Plum Grove Road, parked, and continued
to run a registration check on the vehicle. Hourigan drove to
where the Escape had been parked and noted it was no longer
there. A few minutes later, he saw the Escape turn back onto
Oriole and saw the headlights turn off; Hourigan lost sight
of the vehicle again and then saw it with its headlights back
7 Hourigan followed the Escape north onto Plum Grove Road.
The Escape was in the left lane, moved to the right lane
after the right turn signal was engaged, and then returned to
the left lane. According to Hourigan, it "straddled the
lane line for maybe a hundred feet, 200 feet" with no
turn signal on. The Escape then returned to the right lane.
8 Hourigan activated his vehicle's emergency lights to
initiate a traffic stop. The Escape continued driving for
about two blocks before stopping on the right side of Plum
Grove Road. When Hourigan approached the Escape, he observed
defendant in the driver's seat, a man in the passenger
seat, and a woman in the back seat behind the man.
9 Defendant told Hourigan she was "looking for my
insurances [sic]" and spoke in a slurred
manner. He asked her to step out of the vehicle. Hourigan
testified that the defendant's eyes were "glassy and
red and there was a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage
coming from the vehicle and her breath." Hourigan told
her to walk to the rear of the Escape and asked for her
driver's license, which she said was at home. Defendant
told Hourigan she was driving a friend home to Orland Park.
10 When Hourigan asked defendant's name, she initially
responded, "Stacey Groebe." She then told Hourigan
her name was Ashley Neven and stated she was just married.
She gave Hourigan her date of birth. Defendant said she was
from Palos Hills, which she described as being "just
down the road like 15 minutes." Hourigan performed an
Internet search for Palos Hills and learned it was "35
to 39 minutes" away from the location of the traffic
stop. Defendant denied consuming alcohol when asked by the
11 Hourigan administered field sobriety tests, starting with
the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. He testified he had
performed "thousands" of HGN tests and had received
training in performing that test in accordance with National
Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) standards.
The test was administered by the officer holding a pen and
moving it in front of the subject's face. Hourigan told
defendant to watch the pen with her eyes only and watch it
move from side to side without moving her head. Defendant was
able to follow his instructions and her eyes equally tracked
the pen; however, Hourigan observed "in both eyes [ ] a
lack of smooth pursuit" and "a distinct and
sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation." Hourigan
testified those factors indicated that defendant had consumed
12 Hourigan next administered the one-leg stand test,
directing defendant to keep her hands at her sides and hold
one foot straight about six inches off the ground while
counting aloud for 30 seconds. Hourigan demonstrated the test
to defendant. He testified that when performing the test,
defendant "hopped" and "lifted her arms [ ]
almost to a 90-degree angle." Defendant swayed and was
unable to maintain her balance, and she lowered her foot on
counts 9 and 12. Also, after counting for 30 seconds,
defendant counted to 48, at which point Hourigan told her to
13 Hourigan then administered the walk-and-turn test. He
directed defendant to stand on the white line at the
road's edge with one foot in front of the other and her
hands at her sides. Hourigan demonstrated nine steps,
touching his heel to his toe and counting aloud with each
step, and he turned and walked back the same way. Defendant
said she understood those instructions. Hourigan stated that
defendant initially "was unsteady on her feet, swaying
from side to side" and "went down to count 5 and
then just stopped and appeared to [ ] lose her balance."
Defendant returned to the starting point and began again,
stepping off the line and not touching her heel to her toe at
several points. After defendant turned, her feet "were
out of alignment from side to side and she was using her
arms." Hourigan could not hear defendant counting aloud.
14 Hourigan asked defendant to take a preliminary breath
test, which she refused. Defendant was arrested. An open,
half-full bottle of vodka was recovered from the front
passenger side of the vehicle, along with an Illinois
identification card for Stacey Groebe displaying a different
date of birth than the date she gave Hourigan. Defendant also
refused to take a breath test at the police station.
15 Hourigan testified that defendant was under the influence
of alcohol based on her failure to complete the sobriety
tests and her "slurred speech, the odor of alcoholic
beverage on her breath, the glassy red eyes, her responses to
questions." Hourigan further noted the "time and
location" of the traffic stop, the fact that defendant
drove over the lane lines, her failure to immediately stop
when he activated his emergency lights, and the fact that she
was driving in "the opposite direction from home."
Hourigan also based that opinion on "the observations I
made on the [HGN] test" and defendant's failure to
properly complete the one-leg stand test and the
16 The State referred to a video recording of the traffic
stop and defendant's performance of the field sobriety
tests taken from the dashboard camera in Hourigan's
police car. Hourigan stated that he had reviewed the
video prior to his testimony and that the video represented a
true and accurate recording of the events. Defense counsel
said it would "stipulate to the video."
17 On cross-examination, Hourigan described his
administration of the HGN test. He said he took into account
defendant's statement to him that she was on three
prescription medications. Hourigan did not see defendant fall
or stumble when walking from the bowling alley to the car,
and she got out of the car without assistance during the
traffic stop. Defendant committed a traffic violation of
improper lane usage.
18 After Hourigan's testimony, the State asked to admit
into evidence a copy of defendant's certified driving
abstract, which indicated that she had two prior DUI
convictions in Illinois and that her driver's license was
revoked when these events occurred.
19 After defense counsel initially objected to the admission
of the driving abstract, the court stated it would "take
the opportunity during the lunch break not only to watch the
video but of course to review any case law" regarding
the admission of the driving abstract. Further discussion
took place, after which defense counsel stated that the
defense had "no objection" either to the admission
of the video recording or the driving abstract.
20 The video recording, defendant's driving abstract, and
other exhibits were admitted into evidence. The court stated
that the video would be "admitted into evidence and
published to the court." Before adjourning for lunch,
the court again remarked that it would "watch the
21 When the case was recalled, the court stated it had
watched the video. The State rested its case-in-chief, and
the defense moved for a directed verdict, which the court
22 The defense called three witnesses who were with defendant
on the night of these events. Amy Joslyn testified that she
lived in Palos Hills and had known defendant for five years.
She, defendant, Bhavik Patel (who sometimes went by the name
"Bob"), and Jonathan Kermer went to Strike Ten and
left at about 2 a.m.
23 Patel, who was Joslyn's boyfriend, began having an
epileptic seizure, and the group remained in the parking lot
until about 2:30 a.m. After leaving the parking lot,
defendant stopped on a street off of Plum Grove Road because
Patel said they were going the wrong way to his house, where
he needed to retrieve medication. Joslyn called Uber for a
ride for Patel, and he was picked up while they remained on
the side street. Joslyn testified she called a ride for Patel