People v. Ciborowski

Decision Date03 June 2016
Docket NumberNo. 1–14–3352.,1–14–3352.
Citation404 Ill.Dec. 163,55 N.E.3d 259
Parties The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff–Appellee, v. Paul CIBOROWSKI, Defendant–Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

Sami Azhari, of Chicago, for appellant.

Anita M. Alvarez, State's Attorney, of Chicago (Alan J. Spellberg, John E. Nowak, and Brandon Hudson, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.


Justice GORDON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

¶ 1 After a bench trial, defendant Paul Ciborowski was found guilty of driving under the influence of drugs (DUI) and of failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident, and was sentenced to two years of probation and a suspended sentence of 364 days' incarceration. Defendant's conviction stemmed from a three-vehicle collision in Palatine, Illinois, on March 22, 2013.

¶ 2 On appeal, defendant contends, first, that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress evidence based on a lack of probable cause that he was driving under the influence of drugs. Second, defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion when it allowed Palatine Police Sergeant Gregory Hart's testimony for the limited purpose of discussing the general effects of the prescription drugs, citalopram and quetiapine. Lastly, defendant claims that the evidence was insufficient to show whether he was under the influence of drugs to a degree that it rendered him incapable of driving safely.

¶ 3 For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress and find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it allowed testimony from a drug expert witness to testify as to his opinion on the effects of certain drugs on individuals. The parties refer to this expert as a drug recognition expert. Lastly, we conclude that there was sufficient evidence to support defendant's conviction. Accordingly, we affirm defendant's conviction.

¶ 5 I. The Charges

¶ 6 Defendant was issued three separate traffic citations as a result of his involvement in the three-vehicle collision. Defendant was charged with: (1) failing to reduce his speed to avoid a collision (625 ILCS 5/11–601(a) (West 2014));1 (2) driving under the influence of drugs (625 ILCS 5/11–501(a)(4) (West 2014));2 and (3) failing to provide proof of valid insurance (625 ILCS 5/3–707(b) (West 2014)).3 The arresting police officer also noted on the citations that defendant was driving in excess of the 30 miles per hour speed limit at the time of the collision.

¶ 7 II. Defendant's Pretrial Motions

¶ 8 On April 1, 2014, defendant filed a petition to rescind his statutory summary suspension.4 Defendant alleged: (1) that Officer Bruce Morris did not properly place him under arrest for an offense as defined in section 11–501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/11–501.1 (West 2014) (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs)) or similar provision of a local ordinance; (2) that Officer Morris did not have reasonable grounds to believe that defendant was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs, or a combination of them; (3) that Officer Morris did not properly warn defendant as required by section 11–501.1(c) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/11–501.1(c) (West 2014));5 (4) that defendant did not refuse to submit to and/or complete the required chemical test or tests, pursuant to section 11–501.1(c) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/11–501.1(c) (West 2014)) upon the request of the arresting officer; (5) that the notice of summary suspension was not sworn to under oath as required by statute; (6) that defendant did not receive proper service of the citations issued; and (7) that the tests given to defendant did not conform to the requirements imposed by the Illinois Department of Health.

¶ 9 On May 9, 2014, defendant filed a motion to quash his arrest and suppress evidence for lack of probable cause. Defendant argued that his arrest was improper and the evidence obtained during it must be suppressed because: (1) Officer Morris was not justified in prolonging the traffic stop and detaining defendant in order to determine whether defendant was under the influence of drugs; (2) Officer Morris asked defendant to exit his vehicle without reasonable suspicion that defendant was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; and (3) Officer Morris was not a drug recognition expert and therefore did not have the requisite skills or training to testify regarding whether someone was under the influence of drugs.

¶ 10 III. Pretrial Hearing

¶ 11 On May 9, 2014, the trial court held a hearing on defendant's petition and motion to suppress. Officer Morris testified that he was dispatched to a three-vehicle collision. After arriving on the scene within minutes of the accident and speaking with the three drivers involved in the collision including defendant, the officer concluded that defendant had caused the accident by rear-ending the vehicle in front of him. Officer Morris testified that defendant's vehicle sustained severe damage to its front end, was leaking fluid, and was inoperable.

¶ 12 Officer Morris testified that, during his initial conversation with defendant, who was seated in the driver's seat, defendant gave conflicting answers about where he lived. Defendant initially told Officer Morris that he lived in Arlington Heights and then told him that he lived in Palatine, Illinois. Defendant also gave conflicting answers about how the accident occurred. First, defendant admitted that he had struck the vehicles in front of him with his motor vehicle and then he claimed that the vehicles had struck his vehicle. When the officer asked defendant for an insurance card, defendant handed him his AARP bond card.

¶ 13 Officer Morris described defendant as having a disheveled appearance:

ASSISTANT STATE'S ATTORNEY (ASA): And his general—He was disheveled, wasn't he?
OFFICER MORRIS: Yes. His shirt was untucked and unbuttoned and his hair was mussed, and—
ASA: And his general movements, they seemed deliberate and lethargic, didn't they?
OFFICER MORRIS: Yes, they did.”

¶ 14 Officer Morris testified that he eliminated the possibility that defendant was under the influence of alcohol because defendant did not have the odor of alcohol on his breath, and did not have bloodshot or glassy eyes. Officer Morris never suspected defendant of being under the influence of cannabis, nor did he observe any type of controlled substance.

¶ 15 Officer Morris testified that he asked defendant to step out of his damaged vehicle and sit in the backseat of the police vehicle, in order to ensure defendant's safety as the officer prepared a crash report. During this time, Officer Morris and defendant were engaged in a free-flowing conversation, and the officer observed that defendant's pupils were dilated and that defendant had difficulty keeping his eyes open. Defendant looked sleepy and his speech was mush-mouthed and slurred. Officer Morris inquired whether defendant was taking any drugs:

“ASA: And then you asked him if he had taken any drugs, right?
OFFICER MORRIS: I asked him if he were—Yeah. If he were prescribed medication.
ASA: And he told you that he takes Zoloft, Ambien, and Celexium, correct?
OFFICER MORRIS: That was his statement at the time.”

¶ 16 Officer Morris then asked defendant to take field sobriety tests. The first test was the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test where the officer looks into defendant's eyes with a flashlight. During this test, defendant was wobbling, waving, swaying, and had a hard time standing up, to the point where the officer was concerned that defendant would fall over and onto the pavement. The second test was the walk-and-turn test. Defendant could not walk heel-to-toe, could not remember directions, took 18 steps instead of 9 steps, swayed while walking, and had a hard time keeping his balance. Officer Morris terminated the test to ensure his and defendant's safety. The third test was the one-leg stand test. During this test, defendant leaned against the police vehicle and fell over before even attempting the test. Defendant had to be helped to prevent a fall, during each of the three times that he attempted to lift his foot. Again, Officer Morris terminated the test to ensure his and defendant's safety. After defendant's performance on these three field sobriety tests, Officer Morris arrested defendant because he “believed that based on the totality of the circumstances that he was under the influence of some kind of drug.”

¶ 17 Officer Morris testified that, although he worked extensively in illegal narcotics, he never dealt specifically with prescription medication. Throughout his career with the Palatine police department, he had observed people under the influence of alcohol. Officer Morris received training at the police academy on drug and alcohol detection. However, he was not a drug recognition expert.

¶ 18 On cross-examination, Officer Morris testified that, in his professional experience, he had observed hundreds of people under the influence of drugs. The spectrum of drugs ranged from illegal drugs “such as cocaine and crack [where] you get erratic, irrational behavior” to “the other end of the spectrum such as anti-depressants and sleeping aids, [where] you get people that are tired and sleepy.”

¶ 19 On redirect examination, Officer Morris testified about his knowledge of the prescription drugs Zoloft, Ambien, and Celexium, and their side effects:

“DEFENSE COUNSEL: What is Zoloft ?
OFFICER MORRIS: I want to say an anti-depressant?
OFFICER MORRIS: I can't say for certain.
DEFENSE COUNSEL: Do you know what effect it has on someone?
OFFICER MORRIS: Well, if it's an anti-depressant that would indicate that somebody is feeling down and sad, and Zoloft would probably perk them up.
DEFENSE COUNSEL: That is assuming it is an anti-depressant?

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