Waukegan DUI Attorney Discusses Recent Case About Warrantless Entry Into Home After Car Accident

In the case of People v. Swanson, 2016 IL App (2d) 150340, the Second District Appellate Court held that a warrantless entry into a home was unreasonable and affirmed the trial court which granted the Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence and Petition to Rescind Statutory Summary Suspension.  In Swanson, the Defendant crashed his car into a ditch on a snowy, icy road, and hit a sign, deploying the airbags.  The defendant knocked on the door of two local residences but was denied entrance.  The defendant lived within a couple of miles and ultimately walked home.  One of the residents called 911 to report a disorientated person.  An officer responded and located the defendant's car in the ditch.  After determining the Defendant's address from the license plates, the officer relocated to Defendant's residence.  Officers made contact with the Defendant's wife at the front door of the residence.  Speaking through a storm door, she told the officers that the Defendant was fine and did not need any medical attention.  She related to them that he was upstairs taking a bath.  Defendant's wife also testified that she was told that if the Defendant did not come down the officers would have to go upstairs and get him.  Ultimately, the officers entered the residence after which the defendant came down and spoke to the officers who made observations of impairment and arrested the Defendant.  After a hearing, the Trial Court granted both the Motion to Suppress and Petition to Rescind Summary Suspension finding that the entry into the Defendant's home was not justified.  The Prosecution appealed arguing the "consent" and "emergency aid" exceptions to the warrant requirement.  The court stated that with regard to consent, that the Defendant's wife never intimated that it was okay for the officers to enter the residence.  To the contrary, the court noted that she said that the Defendant was fine and did not need help.  The trial court found her testimony credible.  With regard to the emergency aid exception, the court first noted its two part test.  In order for officers to enter a residence under this exception, the officers must (1) have a reasonable grounds to believe an emergency exists; and (2) have reasonable basis to connect the emergency with the area entered or searched.  The state argued that the facts that the Defendant, having been in a car accident and having been exposed to inclement weather during his walk home, were sufficient to trigger the emergency aid exception.  The Second District stated that although there was extensive damage to the car, no blood was observed.  Also, the court noted that the fact that the Defendant was able to walk home indicated that there was not a serious injury.  Furthermore, the court noted, the Defendant's wife repeatedly told the officers that the Defendant was fine and in no need of assistance.  They ruled that the medical aid exception did not apply since there was no evidence that an emergency was at hand.  TRIAL COURT'S GRANTING OF MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE AND PETITION TO RESCIND STATUTORY SUMMARY SUSPENSION AFFIRMED.