People v. Gocmen, 2017 IL App (3d) 160025 (March). Episode 331 (Duration 7:57)
Officer untrained in the use of narcotics doesn’t know enough to make this DUI drug arrest.
Officer responds to the scene of an unconscious person in a vehicle.
He finds a Ford Explorer with its passenger side tires on the grass and part of the vehicle still on the road.
Paramedics were already present, attending to defendant. He finds Red Bull can cut in half with burn marks on the interior. He runs a cocaine swipe on it and comes back positive.
There is also a used one millimeter syringe in the vehicle.
A brown, granular substance was also found in a small baggy in defendant’s wallet, for which test results were not available at the time of the hearing.
There were no signs of alcohol use, but the paramedics did say that there was a fresh track mark on defendant’s arm where a needle would have been used. The paramedics also noted that defendant was sweating, had pinpoint pupils, and had a heart rate of 144 beats per minute.
Defendant was also in and out of consciousness.
This officer had zero training in the detection of narcotics use.
Defendant was able to tell the officer he was a diabetic.
The officer arrested defendant for DUI drugs at the hospital.
The trial court granted the motion to rescind the statutory summary suspension.
The State stressed defendant’s physical symptoms: that defendant was sweating, had pinpoint pupils, and had a heart rate of 144 beats per minute.
However, the officer admitted that he never observed defendant and only knew these symptoms by speaking to the paramedics. As he never observed these symptoms and did not have any training or experience in DUI of drugs, his opinion as to the cause of said symptoms is tenuous at best.
Specifically, the State argues “the unfortunate explosion in illicit drug use throughout all sectors of our society has made the effects of drugs on people common knowledge.”
The State exaggerates the pervasiveness of drug use. It defies logic and borders on insulting to say that the average person in Illinois is so familiar with illicit drug use that he or she is able to recognize its effects.
The dissent says that there was also a baggie of what field tested as positive for drugs, as well as an uncapped syringe lying on the passenger seat.
Paramedics advised the officer that defendant had not only a hole in his arm from a recent injection, but also track marks on his arm. One need not be a 20-year police veteran or drug expert to connect these dots.
Track marks are a common sign of a drug abuser who injects his or her drug of choice repeatedly, ultimately causing collapse of veins and distinct marks in the affected area.
Defendant is not the first drug user to tell police he is a diabetic upon being found with a hypodermic syringe.
The reviewing court agreed noting that the main problem was that the officer had no training or experience that would enable him to distinguish between a diabetic reaction and a drug reaction.
Moreover, the officer further based his arrest on the residue found at the bottom of the Red Bull can.
Though he conducted a “NARK Cocaine ID Swipe” of the residue, which he said tested positive for opiates, we find it curious that a “Cocaine ID” test would be used to test for opiates when cocaine is not an opiate. See People v. Vernor, 66 Ill. App. 3d 152, 154-55 (1978) (finding that opiates are narcotic drugs while cocaine is not).
Therefore, it is unclear whether the officer even administered the correct type of test, and if so, whether he administered it correctly.
This officer would not have known the difference between a diabetic reaction and a reaction to drugs.
Though a layperson can testify regarding intoxication from alcohol, the effects of drugs are not commonly known, and training and experience are necessary to understand their effects on people.
No Drugs On Him
Finally, the substance found in defendant’s wallet carries no evidentiary weight as test results were not available at the time of the hearing.
While an officer need not necessarily have “advanced training” or be certified as an expert, some training and experience in DUI of drugs is necessary.