Elmhurst DDT Client Found Not Guilty of DUI
In May 2019, an Illinois State Trooper executed a traffic stop on I-290 eastbound near the Saint Charles Road exit. The trooper found our client had an odor of alcoholic beverage about his person, as well as an open can of beer in the console of his truck. With these observations, the trooper began a DUI investigation, which begins with asking the driver if he consumed alcohol and where he was going.
At that point, if an officer find reasons to believe a driver is intoxicated, the DUI investigation continues with a field sobriety test, which consists of strictly controlled physical tasks a driver must complete and are meant to assist an officer in determining whether to continue with their DUI investigation.
In this case, our client refused all sobriety tests.
He was placed under arrest and offered an opportunity to complete a chemical test at the station to determine his blood alcohol content (BAC). In Illinois, DUI cases generally have two components: The criminal misdemeanor/felony charge, and the administrative suspension of a person’s driving privileges. When someone refuses to take a chemical test or the test shows they have a BAC greater than .08, the motorist’s driver’s license is suspended.
Because our client refused all field sobriety and chemical testing, his driver’s license was suspended for one (1) year by the Illinois Secretary of State, he was charged with a DUI and ordered to report to the DuPage County Judicial Center in Wheaton, Illinois.
After hiring Driver Defense Team, we proceeded to review his case. On the surface, it appeared the state had a strong case for trial. After all, the trooper found an open can of beer and our client refused all tests. The case law in Illinois indicates a prosecutor can argue a refusal means a person was fearful of the results of the test. In other words, the prosecutor can essentially say, “he didn’t take the test because he knew he would fail it.”
After reviewing the case, we discovered the state’s case was not as strong as it appeared. Our client speaks Spanish. After reviewing the reports and video, the state trooper made no indication of any language barrier during his investigation. Illinois law does not require a law enforcement officer to communicate in a language the suspect can understand. That being said, after speaking with our client, we determined we could counter the state’s argument that refusing the test was due to fear, and instead, point out our client was not aware he was being offered a test.
The case proceeded to trial at the DuPage Judicial Center. During the course of the trial, our attorney was able to obtain testimony from the state trooper indicating he did not speak Spanish, that he made no effort to obtain a translator for our client, and finally, that he was not aware of any policies or procedures which would allow him to communicate with our client. This effectively eliminated the state’s attorney’s ability to argue our client refused testing based on his fear of failing the test. As a result, the judge found our client innocent of DUI.