Overturning a lower court’s decision, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld a part of the Illinois statute on alcohol testing which requires that a driver submit to blood, breath or bodily fluid testing for drugs or alcohol where an officer has probable cause to believe that the driver caused death or personal injury while driving under the influence.
The First District Appellate Court in the earlier People v. Eubanks had held that 625 ILCS 5/11-501.2(c) was facially unconstitutional. The defendant in that case caused a fatal accident. An officer asked defendant to submit to blood tests, which defendant refused. The officer then took defendant to a hospital where his blood was forcibly drawn. He was further threatened with a catheter if he did not submit a urine sample.
In the later People v. Eubanks, the Illinois Supreme Court considered whether a warrantless search based on exigent circumstances could be justified under the Illinois testing law. Exigent circumstances may exist where there is danger that evidence, such as blood alcohol levels, may disappear.
The court held that the testing law set out the type of general rule (testing required where officer has probable cause to believe a driver caused injury or death while driving under the influence) that will almost always support a warrantless blood draw. The general rule would not apply where the blood draw is solely for law enforcement purposes, and the police could not have reasonably judged that applying for a warrant would interfere with other pressing needs or duties.
While the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the law itself, the court still found the law unconstitutional as applied to defendant because of the lengthy delay in obtaining the testing. One factor in determining whether a warrantless search is reasonable is whether a warrant could have been obtained within a timeframe that preserves the opportunity to collect reliable evidence.
“Here, the police waited so long to get the blood and urine samples that defendant’s BAC was zero, even though he admitted to drinking Hennessy and he smelled of alcohol…. It simply defies belief that the police could not have attempted to gain a warrant without significantly delaying the time of the testing.” the Court wrote.
If you have been charged with DUI, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. In most cases, a judge will look at the totality of the circumstances. Under such totality, were the police justified in forcing you to take a blood, breath or urine test? Even if the police acted lawfully and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.
If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)