Illinois Traffic Violation and DUI Lawyers
Case Result: Mr. Green Found Not Guilty of DUI at Trial
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Case Type: Driving Under the Influence, Cannabis
Courthouse: The Daley Center
Result: Not Guilty at Trial
Mr. Green* was driving his vehicle on the south side of Chicago in June 2016. The Chicago Police Department had positioned a DUI checkpoint roadblock on his route and he was selected to be interviewed by the Chicago Police. Mr. Green, knowing that he had nothing to be concerned about, promptly curbed his vehicle and began speaking with the attending officer.
Mr. Green provided his license, insurance card and registration to the attending officer. He told the officer that he was on his way home but had to drop off his two passengers. It was at this point that the officer stated that he smelled the odor of burnt cannabis coming from Mr. Green and he was asked to exit his vehicle. Minutes after exiting his vehicle, Mr. Green was handcuffed, placed into the back of the officer’s squad vehicle and taken to the police station. Making matters even worse, Mr. Green’s passengers had to get out of his vehicle because the police were towing and impounding his vehicle.
In July, Mr. Green retained our firm to represent him in his DUI case. The police only charged Mr. Green with a sole count of 625 ILCS 5/11-501A6, which is basically a DUI in which there is an allegation that there is any amount of illegal drug in the accused’s system. After two months and some negotiations with the State’s Attorney, there was an offer to plead to a petty, non-criminal offense of negligent driving. Upon consulting with Mr. Green, we decided that we liked our chances at trial and decided to decline the State’s offer and set the matter for a bench trial.
Month after month, Mr. Green and Driver Defense Team lawyers came back to court, answering ready for our trial. Unfortunately for Mr. Green, the State was never ready for trial because they could not get their officer into court. This delay by the State continued until the last possible moment. At day 160, the State finally answered ready for trial. One way or another, this case would be resolved and no further continuances would be granted.
Before the trial began, we explained to Mr. Green what the State had to prove, that their evidence was based solely on observations made at the scene and that if Mr. Green wished to testify, the case would come down to who the Judge believed to be more credible – the officer or Mr. Green.
We then proceeded to trial.
Both the arresting officer and Mr. Green were sworn in by the clerk. The State called their sole witness, the arresting officer, to testify. The officer answered the State’s questions to the best of his recollection and once they had concluded their questioning, we cross-examined the officer.
Cross-examination began by asking the officer about the nature of the stop. We established that Mr. Green was driving safely, committing no traffic offenses and complied with all the requests that were made of him that evening. We established that the officer never saw Mr. Green smoking cannabis, that no cannabis was found in his vehicle and, most importantly, that no cannabis was smelled coming from Mr. Green’s breath. The officer, to his credit, affirmed that he only smelled burnt cannabis coming from Mr. Green’s person and that he never smelled it on his breath. After our cross-examination was complete, the State rested their case.
At this point, we argued that the State had not met its burden of proof and that the Judge should dismiss the case outright. The reasoning for this argument was that there was no testimony that any amount of cannabis had been consumed by Mr. Green and that a smell coming from his person was in direct conflict with the statute that Mr. Green was accused of violating. Unfortunately, the Judge denied the motion, but the case was far from over.
After a break for lunch, court resumed. Mr. Green had to decide whether or not he wished to testify. We discussed his options and eventually decided that he should testify. Mr. Green was called to the stand and he told the Judge exactly what happened that evening. In short, Mr. Green stated that he had not smoked cannabis at any point in the day, that none of his passengers had smoked and that, most importantly, he couldn’t smoke anything due to a medical condition that he had been diagnosed with earlier that year. The State had their opportunity to ask him their questions as well, but Mr. Green relayed the same story and was never impeached by the State. At this point, we concluded our case and moved to closing arguments.
In close, we made arguments similar to those made in the motion to dismiss, but with the added evidence that it was impossible that Mr. Green had been smoking cannabis due to his medical condition. The State made their argument that the smell was enough to convict Mr. Green and that the Judge should find Mr. Green guilty.
In her ruling, the Judge pointed to the facts that the supposed smell of burnt cannabis was only observed on his person, and not his blood, breath, urine or other bodily fluid. For this reason, she ruled that the State had not met its burden of proof and found Mr. Green not guilty of the sole count of DUI. The Judge congratulated both the State and defense on the well-argued case and returned Mr. Green’s driver’s license to him. We exited the courtroom, shook hands and in Mr. Green’s own words, “it was worth every penny.”
*Client’s name and personal details have been changed to protect the client’s identity and personal information.