Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed April 21, 2011

 

 

No. 109102     People v. Martin

Appellate citation: No. 3-07-0263 (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).

 

      JUSTICE THEIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

      Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Garman, Karmeier, and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.

 

      Two deaths occurred in Peoria in 2004 when defendant driver missed a curve, crossed the center line, and collided head-on with another vehicle. Injured himself, he was hospitalized and consented to blood and urine tests. Alcohol was not found in his blood, but his urine contained methamphetamine. In the circuit court of Peoria County, a jury found guilt of aggravated DUI, and he received a sentence of six years.

      The defense had introduced expert testimony that the amount of methamphetamine found in the urine was only a trace. Trial testimony that defendant had admitted to being a user of “crystal meth” gave no indication as to when he had used it. He had denied using it that night.

      The defendant appealed to the appellate court. That reviewing body found no causal connection between the trace amounts of the drug found in defendant’s urine and the accidental deaths. It remanded for resentencing for misdemeanor DUI. The State appealed.

      In this decision, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed. The court noted that impairment based on alcohol is measurable by determining how much alcohol is in the blood, but that, with drugs such as this one, there is no test for any level which produces impairment. Methamphetamine is itself an illegal substance, and the legislature has made it a crime to drive with any amount of that illegal substance in the body. In this case, it was shown that defendant driver caused the accident. Thus, there was no need to prove that he suffered from any degree of impairment which caused the accidental fatalities. The supreme court reinstated the conviction and sentence entered in the circuit court for aggravated DUI.