from the Circuit Court of Scott County, No. 18-CF-7; the Hon.
David R. Cherry, Judge, presiding.
Attorneys for Appellant: Michael Hill, State's Attorney,
of Winchester (Patrick Delfino, David J. Robinson, and James
Ryan Williams, of State's Attor- neys Appellate
Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.
Attorneys for Appellee: Todd M. Goebel, of Gates, Wise,
Schlosser & Goebel, of Spring- field, for appellee.
JUSTICE STEIGMANN delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Holder White and Justice Cavanagh
concurred in the judgment and opinion.
1 In May 2018, the State charged defendant, David E. Dunmire,
with two counts of aggravated driving under the influence
(625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(1), (2), 11-501(d)(1)(I) (West 2016)),
and two counts of driving under the influence. Id.
§ 11-501(a)(1), (2). In February 2019, defendant filed a
motion to suppress evidence, claiming the traffic stop that
resulted in his arrest was unlawful at its inception because
it was not supported by reasonable suspicion. Specifically,
defendant claimed that the police officer who stopped
defendant's vehicle did so based on his suspicion that it
had illegally tinted windows, but that officer lacked the
training or tools to ascertain whether the windows were, in
fact, illegally tinted.
2 In May 2019, the trial court conducted a hearing on
defendant's motion to suppress, at which the arresting
officer was the sole witness. The day after the hearing, the
trial court issued a written order granting the motion
because the officer "had no way to confirm his
suspicions of a window tinting violation."
3 The State appeals, arguing that the trial court erred by
granting defendant's motion to suppress because it
applied an incorrect standard applicable to the fourth
amendment. We agree, reverse the judgment of the trial court,
and remand for further proceedings.
4 I. BACKGROUND
5 A. The Charges and Defendant's Motion To Suppress
6 In May 2018, the State charged defendant with two counts of
aggravated driving under the influence (625 ILCS
5/11-501(a)(1), (2), 11-501(d)(1)(I) (West 2016)), and two
counts of driving under the influence. Id. §
11-501(a)(1), (2). In February 2019, defendant filed a
"motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence,"
claiming the traffic stop was unlawful because the officer
did not have a reasonable, articulable suspicion that the
windows of defendant's vehicle were illegally tinted,
which was the sole justification for the stop.
7 Defendant asserted that he was stopped on February 7, 2018,
for having illegally tinted windows. Defendant alleged the
officer did not observe defendant break any traffic laws.
Defendant also alleged that section 12-503 of the Illinois
Vehicle Code (Vehicle Code) permits the front-side windows
(those adjacent to the driver on either side of the vehicle)
to be tinted up to 35% "with a 5% variance observed by
any law enforcement official metering the light
transmittance." Id. § 12-503(a-5), (2).
8 Defendant argued that an officer needed specialized
training to be able to differentiate between legally and
illegally tinted windows in order to have reasonable
suspicion of a violation. Defendant noted the case was an
issue of first impression in Illinois but cited several
out-of-state cases in support of his position.
9 Defendant further contended that the officer did not have
probable cause to arrest him for driving under the influence
based on the field sobriety tests administered on the scene.
Defendant asked the trial court to "quash[ ]" his
arrest and to suppress "[a]ll evidence obtained from the
illegal stop, detention, search, and/or custodial
10 B. The Hearing
11 In May 2019, the trial court conducted a hearing on
defendant's motion to suppress. Officer Ryan Scott
Crowder of the Bluffs Police Department testified that he had
been a police officer since August 2017. On the night of
February 7, 2018, he was in his patrol car, which was parked
near the Bluffs High School. Crowder was facing south on
Highway 100. Defendant introduced into evidence a satellite
image, obtained from Google Maps, depicting where Crowder was
located prior to the stop. The map shows that the high school
is on the northern edge of Bluffs with a large wooded area
directly to the east, farmland to the northwest, and a
residential area to the south and west, across the street
from the school. On the map, Crowder is marked as being
parked adjacent to the roadway on the west side of the
southbound lane of Highway 100. Crowder is also adjacent to a
fairly large school building, which would have been on the
right side of his squad car.
12 At some point, Crowder became aware from his side mirror
that a car was approaching with its headlights on. Crowder
stated he first noticed the vehicle when it "was a
little bit behind me but more so directly parallel beside
me." Crowder did not turn around or look behind him. As
the car was parallel with him, he noticed that the side
windows were so dark he could not see into the vehicle.
Crowder pulled out and followed the vehicle but did not
observe it violate any traffic laws. Crowder initiated a
traffic stop because he believed the windows were illegally
13 Crowder testified that he believed the law in Illinois was
that a vehicle could have "30 percent tint all the way
around." When asked to explain what 30% tint meant,
Crowder stated, "I know that if you have 30 percent tint
the lower the number the darker the tint, like 5 percent,
zero percent is almost like limo tint. You can't see it
at all." Crowder testified that at 30% tint, "[he]
would probably say 70 percent" of light could pass
through the window. Defense counsel then read the language of
the window tint statute (see infra ¶ 61), and
the following exchange occurred:
"Q. The Statute says that only 30 percent of the light
has to pass through. So, you were mistaken about the law?
A. I know that I could not see into the window. I could not
see anyone in the vehicle.
Q. And you thought that was the standard?
* * *
Q *** Were you familiar with that [35%] portion of the
A. When I made the stop, I was under the impression that the
window appeared illegal.
Q. Based on what percentage were you dealing with?
A. It was the fact that I could not see into the vehicle,
which told me that evidently those tint, excuse me, those
windows must be illegal.
Q. Well window tinting is permitted in Illinois, correct?
* * *
Q. Your understanding was that 70 percent of the light had to
pass through, correct?
Q. And that's a lot of light that's passing through,
correct, more than half, correct?
Q. And the Statute actually says that only 30 percent of the
light has to pass through, which is less than half, correct?
Q. And you were under a mistaken believe [sic] about
the law, correct?
A. It appeared to be illegal at the time of the stop.
Q. You were under a mistaken belief about the law, correct?
14 Crowder testified he did one training exercise at the
police academy concerning tinted windows. Crowder said
instructors showed the trainees six different vehicles with
varying levels of tint-some legal, some illegal. Crowder
acknowledged he could not remember (1) the number of legal
versus illegal windows, (2) the percentage of tint on any
window, or (3) if any were at or near 35%. Crowder assumed
some of the cars were near the 35% limit because there were
so many variations. Crowder also could not recall if any of
them were "limo dark, *** allowing no more than 5
15 Crowder explained that the training occurred in the
afternoon and the vehicles were stationary. Crowder could not
remember how far away from the vehicles during his training
he was or if there were any light sources present other than
the sun. Crowder acknowledged he had no training on
identifying illegally tinted windows at night or on moving
vehicles. He did not receive any training "on whether or
not you should be able to see a person inside of a vehicle at
night on legal versus illegal tinting."
16 Crowder agreed that when he was in his squad car, his
"view of the windows next to [him was] not [illuminated]
with the spotlights [or] overhead lights." He further
agreed it was "pitch black" the night he stopped
defendant, and the only lighting in the area was a
"street light [sic] pole near the school,"
which was "probably less" than 100 feet away.
Crowder stated the light was just an "area light"