People v. Aaron Martin
At a term of the Appellate Court, begun and held at
on the 1st Day of January in the year of our
nine, within and for the Third District
ice X
July 28,
IT REMEMBERED, that afterwards on
2009 the order of the Court was filed
in the Clerk's Office of said Court, in the words and figures
following viz:
AD., 2009
Appeal from the Circuit Court
of the 10th Judicial Circuit
Peoria County, Illinois
No. 05-CF-757
Honorable Stuart P. Borden,
Judge, Presiding
Following ajury trial, defendant Aaron Martin was convicted ofaggravated driving under the
influence (625 ILCS 5/1 1-501(d)(l(F) (West 2004)). He was sentenced to a six-year term of
imprisonment. Martin appeals from the trial court's denial ofhis posttrial motion for a new trial. We
reverse and remand for re-sentencing.
Defendant Aaron Martin went to ajury trial on the felony charge ofaggravated driving under
the influence, a violation of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Code) (625 ILCS 5/1 1-501 (d)(l)(F) (West
2004)). The charge stemmed from a fatal two-vehicle accident Martin was involved in on Christmas
night, 2004. Martin was the driver ofone ofthe vehicles and the two people in the other vehicle were
killed. Prior to trial, the trial court granted the State's motion in limine and directed Martin to refrain
from presenting any evidence related to whether a correlation existed "between the methamphetamine
present in [his] urine, at the time of the fatal accident, and [his] ability to drive, i.e. 'impaired driving'
or 'under the influence' of methamphetamine."
The State's argument at the motion hearing and other pretrial documents in the record
indicate the State's position with respect to the aggravated driving under the influence charge was
that an impairment of driving caused by the methamphetamine is not an element of the offense and
that the State need prove only that Martin's driving was the proximate cause ofthe deaths. The State
argued that section 11-501(d)(l)(F) ofthe Code did not add any additional element to the proofs and
that proximate cause, as specified in the section, refers to the State's burden of showing Martin was
driving and that the driving caused the deaths. The trial court also ruled on Martin's motion to
dismiss. The trial court denied the motion, however, the trial court stated it agreed that in order to
prove the underlying misdemeanor charge of driving with any amount of methamphetamine in "the
person's breath, blood, or urine resulting from the unlawful use or consumption of [it], the State was
required to prove scienter, or knowing use."
At the jury trial, the following evidence was adduced. Tiffany Graham testified that she had
visited with Martin at Mad Dogs Wisconsin Tap in Peoria on the night of December 25, 2004. The
two were together from around 7:30 or 7:45 p.m. until approximately 10:00 p.m. when Graham
walked with Martin to his truck before he left. Graham testified that Martin had come out to meet
her that night at her insistence. He initially tried to beg off, stating to her that he was "so tired"
because he had been going to different family members' houses all day. She saw no indication that
night that he had been using any kind of drug. Graham stated she received information the next
morning that Martin had been involved in an accident. She cancelled her flight out of Chicago
O'Hare and went to the hospital to visit him. She continued to visit him in the hospital and after he
was released, at his home. After his release from the hospital Graham organized a benefit, in part,
to help pay Martin's medical costs. The benefit was to be held in March of2005. Graham stated that
before the benefit was to take place, she received an anonymous phone call from Colorado in which
the caller asked her how she could plan an event to raise money for someone who killed two people
while on "crystal meth." Graham stated she yelled at the caller, stating something like, "my friend was
not on crystal meth that night." Later that evening, Graham confronted Martin about the phone call
and he told her, "I have done crystal meth before, but I was not on crystal meth that night." He did
not indicate to her when in the past he had used crystal meth. When Graham asked why she had
received the anonymous phone call, Martin replied "my drug test came back positive." Graham
cancelled the benefit and returned the collected donations.
Edwin Carrington testified he witnessed the accident. He stated that at the time he was
driving southbound on Route 29 toward Chillicothe. Carrington was traveling behind a white car in
the southbound lane approaching a curve in the road when he observed a truck traveling in the
northbound lane make a "slow move over" into the southbound lane and collide head-on with the
white vehicle in front of him. Timothy Ford also witnessed the accident. Ford was traveling in the
vehicle behind Carrington's. He had departed for home from Hopewell, at approximately 10:00 p.m.
Ford recalled the roadway was clear ofice and snow. He stated he witnessed a small truck traveling
in the northbound lane; as the truck approached the "turn" in the road the truck's driver continued
straight into the white vehicle in front of Carrington, as "he didn't know * * * when the turn was
coming around." Ford identified Martin in court as the driver of the truck.
Lieutenant Jim Pearson, a certified accident reconstructionist testified he responded to the
accident on Route 29 north of Chillicothe. Pearson testified that based upon his training and the
information gathered during his investigation he concluded the point of impact between the two
vehicles occurred in the southbound lane ofthe roadway very close to a point where the northbound
lane begins a very long, gentle curve to the right. Pearson stated the evidence indicated both vehicles
were traveling at similar speeds and neither vehicle attempted to brake, an indication that the accident
occurred very quickly. Although an examination ofthe truck revealed a broken drive shaft, Pearson
could not say whether the damage had occurred before or as a result of the accident. Pearson also
stated he noted no visual obstructions for northbound drivers approaching the area of the accident.
Violet Hnilica, a forensic pathologist, testified that both victims' fatal injuries were consistent with
a high-impact motor vehicle collision.
Ronda Guyon, a Peoria County sheriff's deputy, testified she responded to the scene of the
accident on November 25, 2004, after 10:00 p.m. She testified she found no evidence of drugs,
alcohol, or drug paraphernalia in Martin's vehicle. She did not search his person or his clothing.
Guyton spoke to Martin at approximately 2:00 a.m. at St. Francis hospital. She issued him two traffic
citations, one for improper lane usage and one for driving on the wrong side of the road, and she
placed him under arrest. Martin consented to her request for blood and urine samples. She recalled
the results of the tests done on Martin's urine indicated the presence of methamphetamines and
amphetamines. Guyton testified she was able to understand the words Martin spoke to her and he
appeared to understand her. She stated that other than the injuries he sustained in the accident he
appeared to "be okay."
Megan Sparks, a registered nurse at St. Francis Hospital, testified that on December 25,2004,
she treated Martin in the emergency room. Treatment began at approximately 11 :20 p.m. As part
of the treatment, Sparks administered to Martin the drug Fentanyl, a narcotic opiate for pain. She
administered five intravenous doses to him. The first dose was administered at 11 :25 a.m., and the
last dose was administered at 2: 15 a.m. Sparks collected blood and urine from Martin as part of his
routine emergency room care and again for a "DUI kit" as requested by the Peoria County sheriff s
deputies. The first DUI kit collection ofblood and urine occurred at 2:03 a.m. It was determined the
DUI kit had expired and another collection was made at 2:26 a.m. Sparks turned the kits over to the
Peoria County Sheriffs Department. Sparks testified Martin received antibiotics but he was not
administered methamphetamine.
Following the State's chain ofcustody evidence, Cathy Anderson, a forensic scientist for the
IIlinois State Police, testified. Anderson stated she tested the samples from the two DNA kits that
were taken from Martin. She tested Martin's blood samples for volatile substances such as alcohol,
isopropanol and methanol. She found no volatiles in the blood. She also found no amphetamine or
methamphetamine in the blood, although she tested for their presence.
Anderson testified she also tested Martin's urine samples. She began with a preliminary
screening test, looking for the presence ofany ofseveral different classes ofdrugs, including cocaine,
amphetamine, methamphetamine, and opiates. Anderson testified the results indicated "possibly some
sort of drug of the amphetamine class that may have been present." Anderson testified she marked
the result of the general screen as a "plus minus," indicating the result was not positive and not
negative, rather somewhere in between the negative calibrator, which would indicate negative
presence and the low calibrator, which would indicate a small positive presence. Anderson stated her
laboratory did not quantify results according to cutofflevels, or numerical indicators ofthe quantity
ofdrug present, although the manufacturer's recommendations to non-forensic laboratories that use
the general screening test refers to cutoff levels.
Next, Anderson performed a gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GeMS), a technique
she described as one which separates drugs out ofthe sample. She was still testing for a wide variety
of drugs. Anderson stated that she did not "find anything * * * of significance that [she] put in [her]
report." Anderson then did a more specific GeMS to look for drugs in the amphetamine class. She
stated she found methamphetamine, a controlled substance in Illinois, in the urine samples from both
of the DUI kits. Anderson explained, based on her experience, that methamphetamine can be
indicated in the urine and not be indicated in the blood. Anderson explained that as a result of the
process ofabsorption in the body, the last place a substance would be found is in the urine, where it
is excreted. Anderson's test results did not indicate what amount of methamphetamine was present
in the urine. She stated that the other substances she found in the urine, hydroxycotinine, caffeine,
possible weak chlorpheniramine, and possible SMAs, or sympathomimetic amines, which are drugs
that are within the class ofamphetamine and methamphetamine, would not trigger a false indication
of methamphetamine. Her final conclusion was that methamphetamine was detected in Martin's
Martin's expert, Dr. Alfred E. Staubus, a forensic toxicologist, testified he reviewed
Anderson's test findings and observed that the results of testing ofMartin's urine indicated results
very close to the negative control levels used in the State's laboratory. Staubas stated the results from
Martin's urine indicated a "slight elevation" above the negative controls, and were closer to the
negative calibrator than the low calibrator. Staubus questioned Anderson's conclusion that the
general drug screen test indicated a plus or minus response. Staubus stated the result should have
been reported as a negative and the testing concluded at that point. Staubus explained, "you can
analytically measure trace amounts ofjust about anything."
Staubus also criticized Anderson's gas chromatography analysis; he stated the State crime lab
did not use standards ofknown concentrations or calibrators along with control samples in order to
quantitate the amount of a compound present in the unknown samples. According to Staubus, the
accepted standard forensic laboratory procedure is to work with a cutofflevel of500 nanograms per
milliliter of methamphetamine and at least 200 nanograms per milliliter of amphetamine, which, as a
breakdown product from the body of methamphetamine, should also be present. He admitted that
the scientific standards to which he referred were not necessarily the legal standards used in Illinois.
Staubus opined that Martin's urine sample did not contain "detectable amounts, realistic amount of
amphetamines. "
The jury returned a verdict ofguilty. Martin filed a posttrial motion for a new trial which the
trial court denied. The trial court sentenced Martin to six years' imprisonment. Martin follows with
this appeal.
In his first argument on appeal, Martin asserts the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt of aggravated driving under the influence (625 ILCS 5111-501(d)(1)(F) (West
2006)). When a defendant challenges his conviction based on the sufficiency ofthe evidence, the
standard ofreviewis whether viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any
rational trier offact could have found the essential elements ofthe offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
People v. Allen, 375 Ill. App. 3d 810, 815, 873 N.E.2d 30,34 (2007). Section 11-50(d)( I)(F) ofthe
Code, states, in relevant part:
"(1) "Every person convicted of committing a violation of this Section shall
be guilty of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs,
or intoxicating compound or compounds, or any combination thereofif: * * * (F) the
person, in committing a violation of subsection (a), was involved in a motor vehicle
* * * accident that resulted in the death of another person, when the violation of
subsection (a) was a proximate cause ofthe death." 625 ILCS ] 1-501(d)(1)(F)(West
At the time Martin was charged, the relevant subsection of subsection (a), the underlying offense for
the felony offense ofaggravated driving under the influence, stated, "[a] person shall not drive or be
in actual physical control of any vehicle within this State while: * * * (6) there is any amount of* *
* a drug, substance, or compound in the person's breath, blood, or urine resulting from the unlawful
consumption of * * * a controlled substance listed in the Illinois Controlled Substances Act. 625
ILCS 11-501(a)(6) (West 2004).1
Martin essentially contends that because the state laboratory's test results indicated "so little"
methamphetamine in his system, and the State failed to provide a time frame regarding how long the
methamphetamine Martin admitted to using would have stayed in his system, the State has failed to
prove that Martin was driving under the influence of the unlawful consumption of any amount of
lEffective January I, 2008, the subsection was amended to include the unlawful use or
consumption "of methamphetamine as listed in the Methamphetamine Control and Community
Protection Act." Pub. Act 95-355 eff January I, 2008.
methamphetamine. We conclude the State has met its burden in proving Martin guilty of section 11­
In People v. Fate, 159 Ill. 2d 267, 269, 636 N.E.2d 549, 550 (1994), the supreme court
reviewed the section of the Code that prohibits a person from driving with "any amount of a drug,
* * * [in the person's] blood or urine resulting from the unlawful use or consumption of * * * a
controlled substance listed in the Illinois Controlled Substances Act." The court acknowledged the
section creates aper se violation without regard for the amount ofcontrolled substance that may have
an impairing effect on any given driver. Fate, 159 Ill. 2d at 269-70,636 N.E.2d at 550. The court
considered the flat prohibition against driving with any amount of a controlled substance in one's
system was not a violation of due process where the legislative history of the statue indicated there
was no standard measure by which it could be determined that a driver is under the influence. Fate,
159 Ill. 2d at 269-70.636 N.E.2d at 550. Thus, it is well established that subsection 11-501(a)(6)
speaks to any amount ofa drug and makes no distinction whether the amount detected is substantial,
minimal, or even trace.
In the instant case, although Martin's expert, Staubus, disputed the conclusion ofAnderson,
the State's forensic laboratory expert, he did not dispute that she had found at least a small amount
of methamphetamine in Martin's urine. Staubus stated he would have documented the test results
as negative, in part, because it is analytically possible to measure trace amounts of "just about
anything." Staubus did not personally perform any tests on the urine samples. It was not unreasonable
for the jury to conclude, based on Anderson's evidence and without regard to quantity, that there was
any amount of methamphetamine in Martin's urine.
As for the element of"unlawful use or consumption," the State presented testimony indicating
that none of the other substances found in Martin's urine would trigger a false indication of
methamphetamine. This finding was not disputed by Martin. Furthermore, Martin admitted to
Graham that he had used "crystal meth" in the past. There is no dispute that such use was unlawful.
See People v. Gassman, 251 Ill. App. 3d 681,691,622 N.E.2d 845, 853 (1993) (defendant who
admitted to the intentional ingestion of cannabis lacked standing to raise the argument that the
subsection unjustly created criminal liability for those who ingested controlled substances
inadvertently or unknowingly). The timing ofthe unlawful use goes only to the issue ofwhether there
was any amount of the methamphetamine in Martin's system, a question that was addressed in the
first part ofthis analysis.
Martin's second argument on appeal is that the State failed to prove his violation of
subsection 11-501(a)(6) was the proximate cause ofthe deaths in the instant case. On this issue, we
agree with Martin. As stated above, the pertinent part of subsection 11-501 (d)(l )(F) requires the
State, in order to obtain a conviction for aggravated driving under the influence, to prove that the
violation of subsection (a) was a proximate cause ofthe resulting deaths. 625 ILCS 11-501(d)(l)(F)
(West 2004). The subsection does not state, as the State asserted subjudicia, that the State need only
prove that the violator's driving caused the deaths. We believe that ifthe legislature had intended the
State's interpretation, it would have stated the proposition differently.
The principles ofstatutory construction dictate that the language ofa statute be given its plain
and ordinary meaning and when the language of the statute is clear and unambiguous, the court
should not add exceptions, limitations, or conditions that the legislature did not express. First Bank
& Trust Co. a/O'Fallon, Illinois v. King, 311 Ill. App. 3d 1053,1058-59,726 N.E.2d 621,625
(2000). A court should interpret a statute as a whole so that no term is rendered superfluous or
meaningless. Texaco-Cities Service Pipeline Co. v. McGaw, 182 Ill. 2d 262, 270, 695 N.E.2d 481,
485 (1998). With regard section 11-501 (d)(1 )(F) the legislature has clearly expressed that it is the
"violation of subsection (a)" that must be found to be a proximate cause ofthe deaths. As the State
correctly notes, proximate cause is "that cause which produces [the harm] through a natural and
continuous sequence ofevents unbroken by any effective intervening cause;" although it need not be
the only cause of the harm. People v. Herman, 347 Ill. App. 3d 525, 530, 807 N.E.2d 1036, 1040
(2004). In the instant case, it follows that the State must draw some relationship between the
presence ofmethamphetamine in Martin's urine while he was operating a motor vehicle, the basis of
his subsection (a) violation, and the deaths that resulted from the motor vehicle accident. The State
did not set out to establish a natural and continuous sequence of events and the record does not
support the conclusion that it did.
We cannot agree with the State that because subsection 11-501(a)(6) is aper se violation, the
proximate cause element of section 11-501(d)(1)(F) has been mitigated to a proof only of whether
the defendant's driving caused the deaths. In another case, also entitled People v. Martin, the court
considered the State's burden of proof regarding a predecessor section of the Code, section 11­
501(d)(3) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 95 1;2, par. 11-502(d)(3», which raised a driving under the
influence conviction from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony ifthe proximate cause of great
bodily harm was the underlying DUI. People v. Martin, 266 Ill. App. 3d 369,378,640 N.E.2d 638,
645 (1994). Specifically, the Martin court considered whether the existence of the aggravating
factor, in other words, that the DUI was the proximate cause ofthe harm, could merely be noted by
the trial court at sentencing as a reason to impose an extended-term sentence, or whether the State
had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the presence ofthe aggravating factor in order to render the
defendant eligible to be sentenced as a Class 4 felon. Martin, 266 Ill. App. 3d at 378,640 N.E.2d at
645. The Martin court concluded the State must bear the burden. Martin, 266 Ill. App. 3d at 378-79,
640 N.E.2d at 638. In Martin, the underlying offense carried with it the inference that the driver was
"under the influence." We can hardly agree to a lesser standard of proof where the included offense
is based on the mere presence of a controlled substance in the defendant's system. The State must
connect the presence of the methamphetamine in Martin's system to the fatalities.
Ifthe State's position is valid, we should find it buttressed in other cases where the underlying
misdemeanor is aper se violation. Section II-50I(a)( I) is another strict liability offense. See People
v. Ziltz, 98 Ill. 2d 38, 42-43, 455 N.E.2d 70, 72-73 (1983) (stating that in enacting the subsection,
the legislative intent was to impose a strict liability on drivers with an alcohol content of [0.08%],
doing away with all necessity for the State to show impairment). Yet, we do not see that in those
cases where the defendant is charged with a violation of subsection 11-501(a)(1) of the Code the
courts have done away with the necessity of the State providing evidence that the violation was a
proximate cause ofharmwhen the State seeks to enhance the conviction to an aggravated felony. See
People v. Merritt, 343 Ill. App. 3d 442, 447-448, 797 N.E.2d 1103, 1107 (2003) (finding State
provided sufficient circumstantial evidence from which the trial court could find beyond a reasonable
doubt that defendant's alcohol consumption was a proximate cause ofthe victim's death, while also
noting that under Illinois law a person with an alcohol concentration over 0.08% (625 ILCS 5/11­
501(a)(I) West 2006)) is presumed to be under the influence of alcohol).
In conclusion, we find, for want ofproofbeyond a reasonable doubt, Martin's conviction for
aggravated driving under the influence is reversed and the cause remanded for sentencing on the
misdemeanor offense of driving under the influence in violation of section 11-501(a)(6).
For the foregoing reasons, the judgment ofthe circuit court ofPeoria County is reversed and
the cause remanded for re-sentencing.
Reversed and remanded.
O'BRIEN, PJ" with McDADE, 1., concurring in part and dissenting in part, and WRIGHT,
1., concurring in part and dissenting in part.

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No. 3--07--0263
A.D., 2009
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, ) Appeal from the Circuit Court
) of the 10h Judicial Circuit,
) Peoria County, Illinois,
) No. 05-CF-757
) Honorable
) Stuart P. Borden,
) Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE McDADE concurring in part, dissenting in part:
The majority has found that the State proved defendant guilty of violating section 11­
501(a)(6) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Code) (625 ILCS 5/l1-501(a)(6) (West 2006)) (slip order
at 9), and that the State failed to prove defendant guilty of violating section 11-501(d)(l)(F) of
the Code (625 ILCS 5/l1-501(d)(l)(F) (West 2006)) (slip order at 10). I agree with the majority
that the State failed to prove defendant guilty of violating section 11-501 (d)( 1)(F). I therefore
concur in that portion of the judgment. Because I find that the State failed to prove defendant
guilty of violating section 11-501(a)(6) I respectfully dissent from that portion of the judgment.
The majority finds that the State proved defendant guilty of violating section 11-501(a)(6)
beyond a reasonable doubt because "[i]t was not unreasonable for the jury to conclude *** that
there was any amount of methamphetamine in Martin's urine." (Emphasis in original.) (Slip
order at 9). The majority's holding embraces the realization that "section [11-501(a)(6)] creates a
per se violation without regard for the amount of controlled substance." Slip order at 9, citing
People v. Fate, 159 Ill. 2d 267, 269-70, 636 N.E.2d 549, 550 (1994). I recognize that the State
"found at least a small amount of methamphetamine in Martin's urine" (slip order at 9). I further
agree with the majority that "subsection 11-501(a)(6) *** makes no distinction whether the
amount detected is substantial, minimal, or even trace." Slip order at 9.
Where I part from the majority's judgment is when it speaks to "the element of 'unlawful
use or consumption.'" Slip order at 10. The majority finds that the timing of Martin's admitted
unlawful use of "crystal meth" in the past "goes only to the issue of whether there was any amount
of methamphetamine in Martin's system." Slip order at 10. In limiting the relevance of the timing
of Martin's admitted "unlawful use or consumption" of methamphetamine in this way the majority
must reason that because Martin admitted using "crystal meth" and that no dispute that such use
was unlawful, the State proved that the methamphetamine it found in Martin's urine resulted from
Martin's unlawful use of "crystal meth." Only then could the majority find that the State proved
the "element of 'unlawful use or consumption.'" Slip order at 10. I cannot agree with the
majority's reasoning because it lacks any factual support.
First, the facts fail to provide support for the majority's conclusions because we may not
reasonably infer that the methamphetamine that was present was due to defendant's unlawful
consumption in the past. The State's witness who testified that defendant had been a user but was
no longer using provided no time frame for defendant's former use. Any such cause and effect
conclusion would be pure speculation. If the State had evidence of how long methamphetamine
remains in the system (a fact), and that defendant unlawfully consumed methamphetamine within
that time (a fact), the jury could reasonably find that defendant unlawfully consumed the
methamphetamine the State actually found in this case (an inference). Absent such evidence,
however, the conclusion that defendant unlawfully consumed this methamphetamine is not an
inference the law recognizes. See People v. Saxon, 374 Ill. App. 3d 409,416,871 N.E.2d 244,
251 (2007) ("An inference is a factual conclusion that can rationally be drawn by considering
other facts").
Second, not only do the facts fail to support the majority's reasoning, the facts actually
discredit the majority's conclusions. The lab technician testified that she found nothing in
defendant's system that would have converted to methamphetamine. That fact proves two things,
neither of which is even instructive as to whether the methamphetamine the State found in
Martin's urine resulted from his unlawful use or consumption of methamphetamine. First, it tells
us that there are substances that can be lawfully consumed that convert to methamphetamine in
the system. Second, it tells us that if something changes into methamphetamine, you will find
methamphetamine, but you will not find the precursor because it is no longer there.
The State's evidence supports a reasonable inference that a compound the State/ailed to
detect had already metabolized into methamphetamine. That would explain both the presence of
methamphetamine and the State's failure to detect the precursor compound. Absent evidence that
no lawful compound metabolizes into methamphetamine the State's evidence of unlawful
consumption of methamphetamine is entirely circumstantial but fails to eliminate all reasonable
inferences of defendant's innocence. Circumstantial evidence that does not eliminate all
reasonable inference of defendant's innocence is insufficient to support a conviction beyond a
reasonable doubt. People v. Evans, 87 Ill. 2d 77,83,429 N.E.2d 520,523 (1981) (and cases
cited therein) ("When the evidence finding defendant guilty is entirely circumstantial, the facts
proved must be consistent with defendant's guilt and inconsistent with any reasonable hypothesis
of innocence").
I would find that the State failed to prove that the presence of methamphetamine in
Martin's urine "result[ed] from the unlawful use or consumption of*** methamphetamine."
(Emphasis added.) 625 ILCS 5111-501(a)(6) (West 2006). Accordingly, I dissent from the
majority's judgment that the State proved defendant guilty of violating section 11-501(a)(6) ofthe
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No. 3--07--0263
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, ) Appeal from the Circuit Court
) of the 10th Judicial Circuit,
Plaintiff-Appellee, ) Peoria County, Illinois,
v. ) No.05-CF-757
AARONL. MARTIN, ) Honorable
) Stuart P. Borden,
Defendant-Appellant. ) Judge Presiding.
Justice Wright, concurring in part and dissenting in part:
I concur with Presiding Justice O'Brien's view regarding the per se nature of the offense
set forth in section 11-501(a)(6) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/l1-501(a)(6) (West
2004». However, I would like to separately express my views regarding the dissent's concerns
that the State's evidence failed to prove this defendant unlawfully consumed the
methamphetamine detected in his urine.
The record in this case documents the lab technician's testimony explaining that her initial
laboratory analysis of defendant's urine detected the presence of a substance within the
amphetamine class. Consequently, the lab technician, Anderson, performed another and more
specific confirmation test to narrowly identify the type of amphetamine in defendant's urine. This
confirmation test determined methamphetamine to be the specific substance present in defendant's
urine. Based on these laboratory tests, Anderson concluded, within a reasonable degree of
scientific certainty, defendant's urine contained a detectable amount of methamphetamine.
Additionally, Anderson testified that the methamphetamine did not result from any of the other
drugs or compounds found in defendant's system. Moreover, she concluded that the other
detected substances present in defendant's body would not trigger a false indication for the
presence of methamphetamine.
The published case law reveals methamphetamine is an unlawful substance resulting from
a chemical process combining pseudoephedrine with other ingredients, such as anhydrous
ammonia, isopropyl alcohol and lithium strips. See People v. Shevock, 335 Ill. App. 3d 1031,
1033 (2003); People v. Reatherford, 345 Ill. App. 3d 327, 332-33 (2003). I observe that those
additional, caustic ingredients are not normally ingested by a person and then combined with cold
medication in the body. Consequently, I do not agree that the facts of record discredit our
conclusion that this defendant unlawfully consumed the methamphetamine detected in his system.
Rather, I respectfully suggest that defendant's own statement to an acquaintance, admitting
previous consumption of methamphetamine, constituted sufficient circumstantial evidence for the
jury to reasonably conclude that this defendant unlawfully consumed the methamphetamine which
was later detected in his urine pursuant to scientific testing procedures.
Accordingly, I concur with Presiding Justice O'Brien's view that the State's evidence
established proof beyond a reasonable doubt of all statutory elements necessary to support a
conviction for the non-enhanced offense of driving under influence (DUI) as charged by the State
in this case.
While Justice O'Brien and I agree that the non-enhanced conviction in this case is a per se
offense, I do not join the majority's conclusion that impairment is a required element for the
enhancement ofthe underlying DUI offense in this case. For this reason, I dissent in part.
The enhancement provision subject to statutory interpretation in this appeal provides:
"[T]he person, in committing a violation of subsection (a),
was involved in a motor vehicle *** accident that resulted in the
death of another person, when the violation of subsection (a) was a
proximate cause of the death" 625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(1)(F) (West
Based on the plain language ofthe statute, my view is that "proximate cause" as used in section
11-501(d)(1)(F) requires a nexus between the death of another person and the underlying DUI
violation of subsection(a), which in this case was the per se driving violation charged under
subsection 11-501(a)(6). I reject defendant's contention that when a death occurs, the enhanced
felony consequences do not apply without further proof the driver, who proximately caused the
accident and resulting death, was also impaired by the controlled substance.
I do not consider the cases relied on by defendant as controlling or directly on point
because the cases do not interpret subsection 11-501(a)(6) as enhanced by the provisions of
subsection 11-501(d)(1)(F) (625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(1)(F) (West 2004)). Excluding those
offenses based on a violation of subsection 11-501(a)(1) and 11-501(a)(6) (625 ILCS 5/11­
501 (a)( 1), (a)(6) (West 2004)), I acknowledge that the statutory language of all other subsections
of the DUI statute require the State to prove that the driver was "under the influence" of alcohol
or a controlled substance in the driver's system. See 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(2), (a)(3), (a)(4),
(a)(5) (West 2004). However, this defendant was not charged under those subsections requiring
impairment. Instead, the State charged this defendant with a per se offense resulting from
unlawful consumption of any amount of an illegal substance pursuant to section 11-501(a)(6).
In this case, I believe we are bound by our supreme court's interpretation of the legislative
intent behind the per se violation prohibiting the operation of a motor vehicle after the driver
knowingly and unlawfully consumes any amount of a controlled substance "without regard to
physical impairment." People v. Fate, 159 Ill. 2d 267,271 (1994). When considering the
predecessor version of the subsection (a) violation charged in this case, the court recognized:
"The statute in question creates an absolute bar against
driving a motor vehicle following the illegal ingestion of any
cannabis or controlled substance. This is without regard to physical
impairment. Given the vast number of contraband drugs, the
difficulties in measuring the concentration ofthese drugs with
precision from blood and urine samples and, finally, the variation in
impairment from drug to drug and from person to person, we
believe that the statute constitutes a reasonable exercise of the
police power ofthe State in the interest of safe streets and
highways." Fate, 159 Ill. 2d at 271.
There can only be one DUI charge subject to enhancement in this case. People v. Van
Schoyck, 232 Ill. 2d 330, 336-37 (2009). Here, that offense was charged as a per se offense. The
per se statute approved by our legislators omits impairment as a element for a DUI conviction
pursuant to subsection 11-501(a)(6). Similarly, the legislators did not require impairment to
elevate any DUI conviction to felony status. Simply stated, in all cases, the nature of the charged
DUI offense under subsection (a) determines ifimpairment becomes an element of the offense
subject to enhancement when other considerations are present such as the proximate relationship
of the death to defendant's operation of a motor vehicle.
In this case, the eye witness accounts presented to the jury were both consistent and
compelling. Here, the other driver, Rebecca Nighsonger, did not have time to react to
defendant's inexplicable and unexpected path of travel described by the eye witnesses. Ms.
Nighsonger was blameless, according to all accounts, and did not cause the collision. It was
undisputed that this defendant caused the collision. Further, it was undisputed the deaths of Ms.
Nighsonger and her mother, Jacqueline Harmon, resulted from the traffic accident defendant
proximately caused.
Enhancement to a felony offense without proof of impairment undeniably creates harsh
consequences for the defendant in this case. Such is the nature of zero tolerance. The harsh legal
consequences enacted by our lawmakers apply uniformly when another person's death
proximately results from the per se driving violation. These severe consequences can be avoided
if a person, who has unlawfully consumed a controlled substance, refrains from operating a motor
vehicle until the point in time when all the illegally consumed controlled substances have been
naturally eliminated from his or her system. This legitimate government purpose may prevent the
needless deaths of other innocent persons, such as the other driver and passenger in this case, who
had the misfortune of encountering this defendant on the roadway, but whose driving did nothing
to proximately cause the accident.
Therefore, I join Presiding Justice O'Brien in concluding that the State has met its burden
of proof on the misdemeanor conviction, but disagree with the majority's determination that the
felony conviction must be set aside based on their interpretation of the statutory language to
require proof of impairment before felony enhancement in all DUI cases. Accordingly, I would
affirm defendant's felony conviction.
As Clerk of the
said Third District of the State of
Court, in and
and keeper of
Records and Seal thereof, I do hereby certify that the foregoing
is a true, full and complete copy of the opinion of the said
Appellate Court in the above-entitled cause, now of record in
this office.
In Testimony Whereof, I hereunto set my hand
and affix the seal of said Appellate Court at
Ottawa, this 28
day of July in the year of
our Lord two thousand nine.
Clerk of the Appellate Court