People v. Kavanaugh, 2016 IL App (3d) 150806 (December). Episode 276 (Duration 4:49)
Trial judge reversed for rescinding this SSS; you just can’t ignore the traffic accident and the stench of weed.
Trooper responds to the scene where Defendant had cut-off another driver forcing the other driver into a ditch.
When the trooper approached the defendant, he detected the odor of burnt cannabis. He asked defendant if she had anything illegal in the car, and she eventually admitted that she had cannabis. The trooper noted the odor of cannabis was “more freshly burnt” than stale.
Defendant also had a pipe and a grinder in her car.
The trooper testified that the cannabis was located under the seat.
Defendant told him she smoked cannabis approximately one week prior to the incident.
He was trained in detecting drug and cannabis use.
She Passed The Fields
The trooper did not observe that defendant had any difficulty walking when she exited her vehicle, and he did not smell cannabis on defendant’s breath.
He had defendant perform several field sobriety tests, including the walk-and-turn and one-leg stand tests. Trooper said she failed them all.
He also observed strong lack of convergence in defendant’s left eye indicative of drug impairment.
On video, the fields don’t actually look bad.
The State argues that the trial court erred in granting the petition to rescind statutory summary suspension.
In the instant case, the issue was whether the arresting officer had reasonable grounds to believe that defendant was driving while under the influence of cannabis under section 2- 118.1(b)(2) of the Code (which only requires reasonable grounds).
Trial Court’s Findings
The trial court granted the rescission of the suspension.
The trial court gave great deference to the fact that when the defendant was outside the vehicle, there was no odor of burnt cannabis on her person or otherwise on her breath. Further, the trial judge found the field sobriety tests were actually favorable to the defendant.
The trial court stated that it placed “significant weight” on the fact that the tests were performed on the shoulder of the interstate with heavy traffic passing within 10 to 15 feet of defendant.
The trial court also noted that there was a lack of evidence as to defendant’s demeanor, including whether she had red eyes or slurred speech.
First of all, the reviewing court said the trial court properly refused to consider the trooper’s testimony regarding the convergence test.
Nevertheless, the reviewing court found that, even accepting the trial court’s factual findings, the evidence was that there was reasonable grounds to believe defendant was driving while under the influence of cannabis.
Defendant admitted that she failed to check her blind spot before changing lanes, causing another vehicle to drive into the ditch. The trooper also detected a strong odor of burnt cannabis in defendant’s car and located a pipe, grinder, and cannabis under defendant’s front passenger seat.
The reviewing court concluded that the facts of defendant’s erratic driving, the strong odor of burnt cannabis in her vehicle, and the presence of cannabis and paraphernalia in her vehicle were sufficient “to lead a reasonably cautious person to believe” defendant was driving while under the influence of cannabis.
Reviewing court is basically saying you just can’t ignore the accident and the stench of weed.