People v. Relwani, 2018 IL App (3d) 170201 (February). Episode 471 (Duration 7:01)
In this Illinois DUI prosecution, Defendant loses his SSS hearing because he didn’t establish the Walgreen’s parking lot was privately maintained.
Defendant lost his motion to rescind statutory summary suspension.
Defendant was asleep in the driver’s seat of his vehicle in the parking lot of a Walgreens drug store in Joliet, Will County, Illinois. Defendant was the only person in the vehicle at the time. The keys to the vehicle were in the ignition, and the engine was running.
Police officers approached the vehicle, woke defendant, and subsequently arrested defendant for DUI.
After defendant was arrested, he was taken to the police station, where he allegedly refused to submit to some form of chemical testing. Defendant’s driver’s license was later summarily suspended by the Secretary of State.
The Private Parking Lot Rule
Defendant contends further that the State did not present any evidence in this case to show that defendant was observed driving on a public street or that the parking lot in question was publicly owned or was maintained by a government entity as was necessary to establish that the parking lot was a public highway.
Defendant contends that there is a long line of cases, which unequivocally held that the summary suspension statute (also known as the implied consent statute) cannot be applied to an individual who was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle in a private parking lot, rather than on a public highway (referred to hereinafter as the private parking lot rule).
The State asserts that under the established law, a parking lot on privately owned property may constitute a public highway for purposes of the summary suspension statute and that it was defendant’s burden, therefore, to present evidence to establish that the parking lot in this case was not a public highway, which defendant failed to do.
Specifically, according to the State, defendant failed to present any evidence to show that the parking lot was privately owned and privately maintained, and the mere fact that the parking lot was a Walgreens parking lot, in and of itself, was insufficient to establish that the parking lot was not a public highway.
How’d He Get There?
In addition, the State maintains, the fact that the vehicle was in the Walgreens parking lot and that defendant was the only person in the vehicle gave rise to an inference that defendant had driven the vehicle to that location on the public streets, as did defendant’s statement to the police that he had come back to Joliet in the vehicle from a restaurant in Chicago.
Defendant’s Prima Facie Case
The defendant bears the burden of proof at the hearing to establish a prima facie case for rescission and must present some evidence on every necessary element of the ground asserted.
If the defendant does so, the burden shifts to the State to come forward with evidence to justify the summary suspension.
However, if the defendant fails to establish a prima facie case, a directed finding should be granted for the State on the petition to rescind.
Implied Consent Statute
Under the summary suspension statute (also known as the implied consent statute), any person who drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle on a public highway is deemed to have given his or her consent to a chemical test or tests of blood, breath, other bodily substance, or urine for the purpose of determining the content of alcohol, drugs, intoxicating compounds, or any combination thereof in the person’s blood if the person is arrested for any offense as defined in section 11-501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (DUI), a similar provision of a local ordinance, or section 11-401 of the Vehicle Code (a motor vehicle accident involving death or personal injury). See 625 ILCS 5/11-401, 625 ILCS 5/11-501.1, People v. Culbertson, 258 Ill. App. 3d 294, 296 (1994).
As the language of the statute indicates and defendant asserts, the summary suspension statute only applies to individuals who were driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle on a public highway.
The summary suspension statute does not generally apply to a person who was driving or in actual physical of a motor vehicle on private property.
Pursuant to the established case law, however, a parking lot on privately owned property may constitute a public highway for the purposes of the summary suspension statute. Helt, 384 Ill. App. 3d at 288; Culbertson, 258 Ill. App. 3d at 296-97. If the parking lot is open to the public for use for vehicular travel and publicly maintained, it will constitute a public highway for summary suspension purposes, even if the parking lot is on privately owned property. See 625 ILCS 5/1-126 (defining the term, “highway,” as used in the Vehicle Code).
In the present case, defendant did not dispute that he was in actual physical control of the motor vehicle in the Walgreens parking lot and presented no evidence whatsoever to show that the parking lot was on privately owned property and that it was privately maintained.
The mere fact that the parking lot in this case was for a Walgreens drug store did not provide any further evidence as to who actually owned or maintained the parking lot.
Thus, the trial court’s ruling— that defendant had failed to establish a prima facie case for rescission based upon the private parking lot rule—was not against the manifest weight of the evidence. We need not determine, therefore, whether the facts of this case created an inference that defendant had driven on the public streets, as suggested by the State.