I just won a DUI case at the Bridgview courthouse and my client did not have to testify. Here are the facts: my client was stopped at 1:15 a.m. in LaGrange, Illinois for speeding 40mph in a 25mph zone. My client admitted to drinking alcohol and, according to the police officer, failed all of the field sobriety tests. Once arrested, my client was taken to the LaGrange police department where he refused to provide a breath sample.
This case was a second DUI for my client and he faced losing his Illinois driver’s license for a minimum of several years.
In order to win the case, I filed a Petition to Rescind the Statutory Summary Suspension and a hearing was held on the first court date. The hearing took two hours and I was able to get very detailed information about what the officer claimed happened during the stop and arrest. Every question I asked and every answer the LaGrange police officer gave was written down by the court reporter. I ordered the court transcript, (the written account of my questions and the police officer’s answers). By having the transcript, the police officer is locked into everything he said at the first court date about the stop and arrest. The prosecutor treats the Statutory Summary Suspension hearing as a quick hearing that they are confident they will win, so they do not prepare the police officer as they would if the case was going to trial. It is important to have the police officer’s testimony recorded at this first court date, as he or she has usually not been prepared by the prosecutor and is not ready to discuss every aspect of a case. It is also important to have the police officer’s account of the arrest, soon after the arrest, while the facts are still fresh in the officer’s head.
Once I had the transcript, the prosecutor and I agreed that we would have a stipulated bench trial. This means, we agreed that the Judge could simply read the transcript and decide if my client was guilty or not guilty. I knew that from reading the transcript, the facts were much in favor of my client and that it was very likely he would be found NOT guilty. The prosecutor knew that the police officer was locked into his testimony and did not want the police officer to have to sit through a long cross examination and was therefore more agreeable to a stipulated bench trial.
Once the Judge read the transcript, he found my client Not Guilty and the case was closed. My client never had to testify. I won the case based upon the steps I took on the first court appearance by locking the police officer in his testimony.