People v. Harrison

Decision Date18 February 2016
Docket NumberNo. 5–15–0048.,5–15–0048.
Citation405 Ill.Dec. 362,58 N.E.3d 623
Parties The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff–Appellee, v. Stephen HARRISON, Defendant–Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

Hon. Brendan F. Kelly, State's Attorney, St. Clair County Courthouse, Belleville, IL, Patrick Delfino, Director, Stephen E. Norris, Deputy Director, Patrick D. Daly, Staff Attorney, Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor, Mt. Vernon, IL, for DefendantAppellant.

Paul M. Storment, III, Storment Law Offices, Belleville, IL, for PlaintiffAppellee.


Presiding Justice SCHWARM

delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion:

¶ 1 After refusing to submit to a breath test following his arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), the defendant, Stephen Harrison, was taken to a hospital where samples of his blood were drawn without a warrant or his consent. Testing of the samples revealed that more than two hours after the defendant had been driving, his blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) was over twice the legal limit of 0.08. The defendant later moved to suppress the test results, arguing that the blood samples had been illegally obtained. Following the trial court's denial of the defendant's motion, the cause proceeded to a jury trial where the defendant was convicted on two counts of aggravated DUI.

¶ 2 On appeal, the defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress. In support of this contention, the defendant relies on Missouri v. McNeely, 569 U.S. ––––, 133 S.Ct. 1552, 185 L.Ed.2d 696 (2013)

, and People v. Armer, 2014 IL App (5th) 130342, 386 Ill.Dec. 359, 20 N.E.3d 521, both of which stand for the propositions that the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream is not a per se exigent circumstance justifying a warrantless, nonconsensual draw of a DUI suspect's blood and that the reasonableness of such a draw must be decided on a case-by-case basis by considering the totality of the circumstances. Citing Davis v. United States, 564 U.S. 229, 131 S.Ct. 2419, 180 L.Ed.2d 285 (2011), and People v. Jones, 214 Ill.2d 187, 291 Ill.Dec. 663, 824 N.E.2d 239 (2005), the State counters that because prior to McNeely and Armer, a warrantless, nonconsensual draw of a DUI suspect's blood was authorized by binding precedent interpreting section 11–501.2(c)(2) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (section 11–501.2(c)(2)) (625 ILCS 5/11–501.2(c)(2) (West 2010)), the trial court properly denied the defendant's motion on the basis that the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule was applicable under the circumstances. For the reasons that follow, we agree with the State and affirm the trial court's judgment.


¶ 4 On March 3, 2011, at approximately 9:30 p.m., the defendant was driving his pickup truck home from a bar when he “T-boned” an oncoming motorcycle while making a left turn across Lebanon Avenue at Center Plaza Drive in Belleville. The motorcycle's rider, Jason Wilson, sustained a massive injury to his left leg as a result and was transported by ambulance to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Belleville. A witness to the accident described Wilson's leg as “pretty much amputated” at the scene, and Wilson later recalled that he had panicked when he “thought [he] saw bone sticking out of it and blood squirting out.” Wilson was ultimately airlifted to St. Louis University Hospital, where his left leg was surgically amputated at the knee.

¶ 5 Officer Anthony Branchini of the Belleville police department responded to the scene of the accident shortly after it occurred. Branchini spoke with the defendant and two independent eyewitnesses but was unable to talk to Wilson “because of the condition that he was in.” While speaking with the defendant, Branchini noticed that the defendant had red, glossy eyes and an odor of alcohol emanating from his person. Acknowledging that he had struck Wilson with his truck, the defendant told Branchini that he had just left a bar in Shiloh where he had consumed “two beers.” Branchini subsequently administered various field sobriety tests, all of which the defendant failed. Believing that the defendant had been operating his vehicle under the influence of alcohol, Branchini placed him under arrest for DUI.

¶ 6 After the defendant refused to submit to a breath test at the Belleville police department, Branchini transported him to St. Elizabeth's Hospital so that samples of his blood could be drawn for toxicological testing. At trial, Branchini indicated that he had obtained the blood samples [d]ue to the severity of [Wilson's] injuries” and that there were “special laws” that allowed him to do so.

¶ 7 At 11:45 p.m., a nurse at St. Elizabeth's drew two samples of the defendant's blood at Branchini's request. Although the defendant did not agree to the procedure, he was apparently cooperative while the samples were collected. A forensic toxicologist later analyzed the samples, and the analysis revealed that the concentration of ethanol in the blood was 0.161 grams per deciliter.

¶ 8 On October 29, 2014, the defendant filed a motion to suppress the test results derived from the blood draw. Citing Armer, the defendant maintained that the blood draw was a nonconsensual, warrantless search and seizure and that “there were no exigent circumstances which would excuse the need for a warrant.”

¶ 9 At the hearing on the defendant's motion to suppress, the State argued that Armer was distinguishable from the present case because it had not involved an accident resulting in death or personal injury to another. Citing Jones, the State further argued that Branchini had acted in good-faith reliance on established precedent holding that warrantless, nonconsensual blood draws were permissible pursuant to section 11501.2(c)(2). The State maintained that under Davis, the exclusionary rule was therefore inapplicable.

¶ 10 On November 5, 2014, the trial court entered a written order denying the defendant's motion to suppress. Citing Davis and Jones, the trial court held that Branchini had properly complied with section 11–501.2(c)(2) and that [e]ven if [section 11–501.2(c)(2)] is deemed unconstitutional,” Branchini had acted in good-faith reliance on prior precedent upholding its validity.

¶ 11 On November 18, 2014, a jury found the defendant guilty on two counts of aggravated DUI (625 ILCS 5/11–501(a)(1)

, (d)(1)(C) (West 2010)). Specifically, the jury determined that on March 3, 2011, the defendant had driven a motor vehicle while his BAC was 0.08 or more, that the defendant had been involved in a vehicular accident resulting in great bodily harm and permanent disability to another person, and that the defendant's driving with a BAC of 0.08 or more had been the proximate cause of the great bodily harm and permanent disability to the other person. See Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions, Criminal, No. 23.48 (4th ed.2000).

¶ 12 On January 12, 2015, after denying the defendant's motion for a new trial, the trial court merged the defendant's convictions and sentenced him to serve two years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. On January 29, 2015, the defendant filed his timely notice of appeal.


¶ 14 At the outset, we note that the defendant does not argue that Branchini acted without probable cause to arrest him for DUI or that the means employed to obtain his blood were unreasonable. Additionally, the State concedes that the defendant's blood was drawn without his express or implied consent and that given the instructions that the jury received, he would not have been convicted in the absence of the evidence that he had driven while his BAC was 0.08 or more. The only issue we must decide is whether the trial court properly determined that Branchini had acted in good-faith reliance on binding precedent when he obtained the samples of the defendant's blood. This is a purely legal question that we review de novo. People v. Turnage, 162 Ill.2d 299, 305, 205 Ill.Dec. 118, 642 N.E.2d 1235 (1994)


¶ 15 “The fourth amendment of the United States Constitution, applicable to the states through the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment, guarantees to all citizens the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.” In re Lakisha M., 227 Ill.2d 259, 264, 317 Ill.Dec. 690, 882 N.E.2d 570 (2008)

. The fourth amendment thus protects an individual's personal privacy and dignity from unwarranted intrusions by the State. Winston v. Lee, 470 U.S. 753, 760, 105 S.Ct. 1611, 84 L.Ed.2d 662 (1985). To that end, evidence obtained in violation of fourth amendment principles is susceptible to suppression under the judicially created “exclusionary rule.” Davis, 564 U.S. at ––––, 131 S.Ct. at 2426. Because the “sole purpose” of the exclusionary rule is to deter future violations of the fourth amendment, however, its applicability requires some degree of police culpability, and “the deterrence benefits of suppression must outweigh its heavy costs.” Id. at ––––, 131 S.Ct. at 2426–29. As a result, there is a well-recognized “good-faith exception” to the rule. Id.

¶ 16 In Davis, the United States Supreme Court applied these principles when holding that [e]vidence obtained during a search conducted in reasonable reliance on binding precedent is not subject to the exclusionary rule.” Id. at ––––, 131 S.Ct. at 2429

. In People v. LeFlore, 2015 IL 116799, 392 Ill.Dec. 467, our supreme court adopted the reasoning in Davis and held the same.

¶ 17 “Reasonableness under the fourth amendment generally requires a warrant supported by probable cause.” People v. Flowers, 179 Ill.2d 257, 262, 227 Ill.Dec. 933, 688 N.E.2d 626 (1997)

; see also Kentucky v. King, 563 U.S. 452, 459, 131 S.Ct. 1849, 179 L.Ed.2d 865 (2011). Nevertheless, “the warrant requirement is subject to certain reasonable exceptions.” King, 563 U.S. at 459, 131 S.Ct. 1849. One such exception is the “exigent-circumstances exception” (Welsh v. Wisconsin, 466 U.S. 740, 749, 104 S.Ct. 2091, 80...

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