Kane County DUI Decision Upheld on Appeal

The Second District Appellate Court recently published a decision upholding a lower court ruling granting a Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence. The case started with a citizen reporting to a police officer that a car was driving “recklessly and all over the road.” People v. Bianca, 2017 IL App (2d) 160608, ¶ 4. The citizen also provided the current location of the car, behind a liquor store, to the police officer. Id. At the time of receiving the report, the police officer was performing an unrelated traffic stop. Id. The police officer, taking the information provided by the citizen, proceeded to the liquor store and told the driver of the “reckless” vehicle, the defendant in Bianca, to “stay in that spot” while he completed his other traffic stop. Id. ¶ 6. When the officer returned to the defendant’s vehicle, defendant exited the vehicle to preform field sobriety tests. Following which, defendant was placed under arrest and eventually submitting to a Breathalyzer at the police station.

Regarding the timing of a seizure under a fourth amendment analysis, the court reasoned: “An individual is seized for fourth amendment purposes ‘only when, by means of force or a show of authority, his freedom of movement is restrained.’” People v. Almond, 2015 IL 113817, ¶ 57; quoting United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544, 553 (1980)). Such restraint is analyzed under the totality of the circumstances and is considered a seizure when a reasonable person would believe he or she was not free to leave. Id. There are four Mendenhall factors that indicate a seizure: “(1) the threatening presence of several officers; (2) the display of a weapon by an officer; (3) some physical touching of the person; or (4) using language or tone of voice compelling the individual to comply with the officer’s requests.” Id.; see also Bianca, 2017 IL App (2d) 160608, ¶ 17.

Even though the court took the time to cite to the Mendenhall factors, the court also pointed out that the factors in this case are not dispositive, stating: “the factors are not exhaustive. (See Luedemann, 222 Ill. 2d at 557).” Bianca, 2017 IL App (2d) 160608, ¶ 19. The court ruled that a seizure occurred at the time of the administration of the field sobriety tests and that “…there is ample authority to support a holding that submission to field sobriety testing is a seizure under the fourth amendment. See Village of Lincolnshire v. Kelly, 389 Ill. App. 3d 881, 886 (2009) (and cased cited therein).” Id.

The court upheld the trial court ruling, stating: “At the point where defendant submitted to the direction to exit the car to perform field sobriety tests, there was a seizure unsupported by a reasonable, articulable suspicion.” Id. ¶ 22.

For more information about this or other cases, please contact the author, James R. Doerr, at (847) 705-7555 or jdoerr@lavellelaw.com.