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People v. Paranto

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

January 14, 2020

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Michelle A. PARANTO, Defendant-Appellant.

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          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Tazewell County, No. 15-CF-138; the Hon. Richard McCoy, Judge, presiding.

          James E. Chadd, Peter A. Carusona, and Amber Hopkins-Reed, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Ottawa, for appellant.

          Stewart J. Umholtz, State's Attorney, of Peking ( Patrick Delfino, Thomas D. Arado, and Stephanie L. Raymond, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.


         McDADE, JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Defendant, Michelle A. Paranto, appeals following her convictions on three counts of aggravated driving under the influence (DUI). She argues that the statutory section under which she was convicted is unconstitutional on its face. She also contends that the circuit court erred in denying her request to be screened for drug court, considering improper factors in aggravation at sentencing, and calculating her fines. We affirm in part, vacate in part, and remand for further proceedings.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 On October 26, 2014, defendant was involved in a multi-car accident that resulted in the death of Amy Hardin and significant injuries to Karla Paranto and Sunna Brown. The State filed a three-count indictment on April 16, 2015. Each of the counts alleged that defendant committed DUI in that she operated a motor vehicle "while there was any amount of drug, substance, or compound" in her body "resulting from the unlawful use or consumption of cannabis." See 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(6) (West 2014). Each count ultimately charged defendant with aggravated DUI; count I alleged that the car accident was the proximate cause of Hardin's death ( id. § 11-501(d)(1)(F)), while counts II and III alleged that the accident was the proximate cause of great bodily harm suffered by Karla and Brown, respectively ( id. § 11-501(d)(1)(C)).

         ¶ 4 Prior to trial, defendant filed a motion requesting an eligibility screening for drug court. The State objected, arguing that defendant was strictly ineligible for drug court because she was charged with a crime of violence. The State also argued that drug court would otherwise be inappropriate for defendant. Defendant disagreed with the assertion that she had been charged with a crime of violence. She also argued that an eligibility screening was mandatory under the statute governing drug court and that the circuit court was therefore without discretion to deny her request.

         ¶ 5 The court subsequently issued a written order denying defendant's request on two grounds. First, the court, citing People v. Carron, 298 Ill.App.3d 676, 232 Ill.Dec. 794, 699 N.E.2d 241 (1998), found that aggravated DUI was a crime of violence, rendering defendant ineligible for drug court. Alternatively, the court found that it had discretion to deny the request and did so based on the seriousness of the charges against defendant.

         ¶ 6 The case proceeded to a stipulated bench trial on November 2, 2016. The stipulated evidence showed that defendant was driving with Karla as her passenger when,

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at a speed in excess of the posted limit, she proceeded through a red light at an intersection. Defendant's vehicle struck a vehicle driven by Hardin, and the two cars subsequently struck a number of stationary vehicles, including one occupied by Brown. A medical examination determined that Hardin died "from multiple blunt injuries due to a motor vehicle collision." Karla's injuries included a ruptured spleen, broken ribs, shattered bones in her leg, loose teeth, and head trauma— injuries that continued to limit her mobility. Brown's injuries included trauma to her head, neck, shoulder, and hip, including ongoing tendinosis and nerve damage. Defendant agreed to submit to a blood and urine test, which resulted in a positive finding of 8.3 nanograms per milliliter of Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and a positive finding of 210 nanograms per milliliter of Delta-9 carboxy THC.

         ¶ 7 The court found defendant guilty on all counts. Thereafter, defendant renewed her motion for a drug court eligibility screening. The court denied the request on the same grounds.

         ¶ 8 At sentencing, the State requested the maximum sentence of 14 years' imprisonment on the most serious charge of count I. Defendant renewed her request for a drug court screening, which was again denied. In imposing a sentence, the court observed: "[T]he Court finds that there are two statutory factors in aggravation, and those are No. 1, serious harm and death, and No. 2, deterrence." The court made no further reference to those factors and then sentenced defendant to terms of six years' imprisonment on each count, to be served concurrently. The court also imposed a fine of $10,305. The court pointed out that defendant would serve 1861 days in prison, and with a credit of $5 for each of those days, her fine would be effectively $1000.

         ¶ 9 II. ANALYSIS

         ¶ 10 On appeal, defendant raises the following four arguments: (1) the statute under which defendant was convicted was unconstitutional on its face, (2) the court committed error when it denied defendant's request to be screened for drug court, (3) the court improperly considered two factors in aggravation, and (4) the court's calculation of presentence custody credit and concomitant assessment of fines were erroneous.

         ¶ 11 A. Constitutionality of DUI Statute

         ¶ 12 Defendant contends that the aggravated DUI statute in effect at the time of her offense was unconstitutional on its face. More specifically, she asserts that the law failed to satisfy the rational basis test because "it was not a reasonable method of accomplishing the desired legislative objective of keeping cannabis-impaired drivers off the road."

         ¶ 13 Where a statute does not bear upon a fundamental constitutional right, it must only survive rational basis review to be deemed constitutional. Under that test, a statute will be upheld if it "bears a reasonable relationship to a public interest to be served, and the means adopted are a reasonable method of accomplishing the desired objective." People v. Adams, 144 Ill.2d 381, 390, 163 Ill.Dec. 483, 581 N.E.2d 637 (1991). Where a statute subjects wholly innocent conduct to a penalty, it "fails the rational basis test because it does not represent a reasonable method of preventing the targeted conduct." People v. Madrigal, 241 Ill.2d 463, 468, 350 Ill.Dec. 311, 948 N.E.2d 591 (2011).

         ¶ 14 Defendant was convicted of aggravated DUI in part under section 11-501(a)(6) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Code) (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(6) (West

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2014)).[1] At the time of defendant's offense in 2014, ...

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