People v. Quigley, 2018 IL App (1st) 172560 (November). Episode 565 (Duration 9:50)
He was plastered and sends his car air born on the expressway, nonetheless, he says his hospital blood can’t be considered in a civil suspension hearing.
Defendant was involved in a multi-car collision and was transported from the scene by ambulance to a hospital emergency room. At the hospital, a blood alcohol test was performed on defendant, and a doctor informed an Illinois state trooper of the results. The trooper placed defendant under arrest and issued him citations for driving under the influence of alcohol in violation of section 11-501(a)(2) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Code) (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(2)) and other traffic violations.
In addition, defendant was subsequently charged with driving while his blood alcohol level was 0.08 or greater under section 11-501(a)(1) of the Code. Id. § 11-501(a)(1).
Defendant’s driver’s license was, thereafter, summarily suspended by the Secretary of State.
The trooper arrived to the scene of a three car accident on a ramp of the Dan Ryan Expressway. Apparently, defendant swung across traffic in an effort to get on the exit ramp. He made it, then suddenly attempted to cross from the ramp to the local lanes, lost control, struck the barrier that separates the exit ramp from the local lanes, went airborne, and then struck 1 other vehicle which in turn hit a third car.
Talk To Defendant
Defendant, the sole occupant of the car that went airborne, was bleeding from lacerations on his forehead and face. The trooper asked defendant what had happened and if he was all right. Defendant gave the trooper his name and driver’s license but stated that he “wasn’t involved in any crash.” The trooper noticed that a “strong odor of alcoholic beverage was emanating from his breath.”
When fire department personnel asked defendant to exit his vehicle, defendant refused, stating that he was uninjured.
During a second conversation, the trooper asked defendant if he had been drinking alcohol, and defendant did not answer. He asked him again what had happened in the crash and defendant replied:
“What crash? I wasn’t involved in any crash. I didn’t hit anybody.”
At this point, fire department personnel joined in assisting defendant out of his vehicle and onto a gurney. Defendant repeatedly refused to leave his vehicle and said that he did not want to go to the hospital but wanted to call his parents and go home.
Eventually, defendant was taken by ambulance to the emergency room of Stroger Hospital.
At The Hospital
After defendant received treatment, the trooper spoke with defendant in his hospital room. Again, he smelled “a strong odor of alcoholic beverage emanating from his breath.”
A physician told the trooper that lab work had been done, the results of which indicated defendant’s whole blood alcohol content was 0.297. That number converted to a serum blood alcohol content of 0.251, which was over the legal limit of 0.08.
The trooper confirmed that the police had not directed anyone at the hospital to take defendant’s blood. After receiving this information, defendant was placed under arrest and read defendant the warnings to motorist.
Defendant filed a petition to rescind the statutory summary suspension.
On appeal, defendant first contends that the trial court erred when it allowed “into evidence,” over his objection, the results of the blood alcohol test conducted at the hospital. He argues that those test results were protected by the physician-patient privilege and that no exception to that privilege applies in proceedings to rescind a statutory summary suspension.
A Narrower Issue
The question then becomes whether, in the context of the statutory summary suspension proceeding, it was proper for the trooper and the trial court to consider those test results in determining whether reasonable grounds existed to believe defendant had been under the influence of alcohol while he was driving.
No published case in Illinois has addressed this exact question.
Statutory Summary Suspension Hearing Is Not A “Prosecution”
Specifically, he asserts that exceptions allowing for the admission into evidence of blood alcohol test results “in prosecutions” for certain offenses do not apply here because statutory summary suspension hearings are civil actions and not criminal prosecutions.
In response to defendant’s position that the physician-patient privilege protected the results of his blood alcohol test, the State maintains that exceptions to the physician-patient privilege, found in sections 8-802(4) and (9) of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/8 802(4),3 (9), and sections 11-501.4 and 11-501.4-1 of the Code allowed the disclosure of defendant’s blood alcohol test results and the testimony relating to the test.
Communications between a physician and patient were not protected from disclosure under common law. Parkson v. Central DuPage Hospital, 105 Ill. App. 3d 850, 852 (1982).
Section 8-802 of the Code of Civil Procedure codifies the physician-patient privilege and provides that
“[n]o physician or surgeon shall be permitted to disclose any information he or she may have acquired in attending any patient in a professional character, necessary to enable him or her professionally to serve the patient.”
735 ILCS 5/8-802.
The privilege, however, is not absolute.
Section 8-802, itself, enumerates 14 exceptions to the physician-patient privilege and “illustrates a ‘legislative balancing between relationships that society feels should be fostered through the shield of confidentiality and the interests served by disclosure of the information.’ ” Palm v. Holocker, 2017 IL App (3d) 170087, ¶ 21 (quoting People ex rel. Department of Professional Regulation v. Manos, 202 Ill. 2d 563, 575-76 (2002)).
Section 8-802(9) provides an exemption to the physician-patient privilege “in prosecutions where written results of blood alcohol tests are admissible pursuant to section 11 501.4 of the Code.” 735 ILCS 5/8-802(9).
The Illinois Traffic Code On Patient Confidentiality
Section 11-501.4 of the Code, to which section 8-802(9) of the Code of Civil Procedure refers, provides that
“the confidentiality provisions of law pertaining to medical records and medical treatment shall not be applicable” with regard to blood tests performed when receiving medical treatment in an emergency room and (under certain criteria) are admissible in the prosecution for any violation of section 11-501, a similar local ordinance, or for reckless homicide.
People v. Ogle, 313 Ill. App. 3d 813, 816 (2000) (quoting 625 ILCS 5/11-501.4(b)).
Additionally, section 11-501.4-1 of the Code provides an exemption with regard to individuals being treated in an emergency room after a motor vehicle accident and states:
“(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the results of blood, other bodily substance, or urine tests performed for the purpose of determining the content of alcohol, other drug or drugs, or intoxicating compound or compounds, or any combination thereof, in an individual’s blood, other bodily substance, or urine conducted upon persons receiving medical treatment in a hospital emergency room for injuries resulting from a motor vehicle accident shall be disclosed to the Department of State Police or local law enforcement agencies of jurisdiction, upon request. Such blood, other bodily substance, or urine tests are admissible in evidence as a business record exception to the hearsay rule only in prosecutions for any violation of [s]ection 11-501 of this Code or a similar provision of a local ordinance, or in prosecutions for reckless homicide brought under the Criminal Code of 1961 or the Criminal Code of 2012. (b). The confidentiality provisions of law pertaining to medical records and medical treatment shall not be applicable with regard to tests performed upon an individual’s blood, other bodily substance, or urine under the provisions of subsection (a) of this [s]ection.”
Here, a blood alcohol test was performed on defendant when he was being treated in an emergency room for injuries he sustained after a motor vehicle accident. Thus, under section 11 501.4-1 of the Code, the physician-patient privilege did not prevent disclosure of the blood alcohol test results to law enforcement. In fact, this section required that the results of defendant’s blood alcohol test be given to the trooper upon his request.
There is no question that the doctor acted properly in providing the trooper with defendant’s blood alcohol test results. The circuit court properly found the physician-patient privilege was not violated by the physician’s reporting of defendant’s blood alcohol test results.
We find that, by permitting and, in fact, requiring the release of the blood alcohol test results to law enforcement when there has been a motor vehicle collision, it is reasonable to conclude that the legislature, in enacting section 11-501.4-1, intended that the blood alcohol test results would be used by law enforcement to determine reasonable grounds to believe a defendant has been driving impaired for purposes of a statutory summary suspension.
We also find that the trial court properly allowed and considered the testimony of the trooper as to the blood alcohol test results in its decision to deny the petition to rescind. The trooper’s conclusion served as a basis for his arrest of defendant and to the trooper giving defendant the warnings to motorist. As a result, defendant’s license was subjected to a statutory summary suspension under the implied consent provision of the Code.
In keeping with Ernst and the language of section 11-501.4-1, we find no error in the troop’s consideration of the results of the hospital’s blood alcohol test in determining whether there were reasonable grounds to believe defendant was driving under the influence of alcohol.
The trooper testified that the results were a factor in his determination that there were reasonable grounds to arrest defendant for driving under the influence. In so finding, we reject defendant’s argument that, because statutory summary suspension proceedings are considered as civil in nature and are not “prosecutions,” the reasoning of Ernst should not apply here.
Trooper Krzysiak based his conclusion, in part, upon defendant’s reported blood alcohol test results and, therefore, this information is “essential” to a court’s determination as to whether reasonable grounds existed that defendant was driving under the influence.
See People v. Ernst
In People v. Ernst, 311 Ill. App. 3d 672 (2000), this court addressed the analogous question of whether, in the context of a motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence, it is proper to consider such results in determining whether probable cause to arrest for driving while impaired existed.
The legislative intent recognized in Ernst—that the police would use disclosed blood alcohol test results in determining whether there was probable cause to effectuate an arrest—applies just as equally in the context of a statutory summary suspension proceeding as in a probable cause hearing.
Our conclusion is supported by our supreme court’s recognition that the issues raised in a petition to rescind and in a motion to suppress are overlapping and share the same standard of review. People v. Wear, 229 Ill. 2d 545, 560-61 (2008). Specifically, when determining whether an officer had reasonable grounds to arrest a defendant in the context of deciding a petition to rescind statutory summary suspensions, Illinois courts utilize the probable cause analysis of the fourth amendment. See also Fonner, 385 Ill. App. at 539-40 (in proceedings on a petition to rescind a statutory summary suspension “reasonable grounds” is synonymous with “probable cause”).
- Illinois DUI Reference Page
- Episode 558 – People v. Williams, 2018 IL App (2d) 160683 (October) (A Recap Of Recent DUI Probable Cause Cases)
- Episode 461 – People v. Hayes, 2018 IL App (5th) 140223 (February) (implied consent not applicable when defendant was not ticketed for DUI and there was no clear consent to have his blood drawn)
- Episode 420 – People v. Durden, 2017 IL App (3d) 160409 (November) (do you have to give blood if yo pass the breathalyzer?)
- Episode 469 – A Review Of Blood Draws: Warrantless Blood Draws Coming To A Hospital Near You
- Episode 439 – People v. Sykes, 2017 IL App (1st) 150023 (December) (no police action when police hold a lady down in the hospital)
- Episode 423 – People v. Brooks, 2017 IL 121413 (November), (our supreme court recently held that mere police participation, absent the private actors acting as an agent or instrumentality of the State, is not state action)
- Episode 319 How Can Police Enforce A Blood Warrant | A Discussion With Anthony Cameron
- Episode 438 – People v. Eubanks, 2017 IL App (1st) 142837 (December) (really bad defendant held down in the hospital)
- Episode 462 – People v. Turner, 2018 IL App (1st) 170204 (February) (Nurse Acting In Behalf Of The Police Became A State Actor)
- Episode 491 – People v. Gill, 2018 IL App (3d) 150594 (April) (Nurse Acting In Behalf Of The Police Became A State Actor And They Needed To Go Get A Warrant)
- Episode 186 – Birchfield v. North Dakota, 136 S. Ct. 2160, 2174 (2016)
- Missouri v. McNeely v. 569 U.S. 141 (2013)
- People v. Rennie, 2014 IL App (3d) 130014 (May)