9-Year Jail Sentence for Aggravated DUI Upheld
In October of 2012, a car driven by Albert Fleming struck and killed University of Illinois student Anthony Pauls while he was crossing University Avenue. Fleming, who was later found to have a BAC of 0.11 percent, panicked and fled the scene of the accident. He was charged with DUI and leaving the accident scene just a few days after the crash, and the state later charged him with another count of aggravated DUI.
A jury convicted Fleming of leaving the accident scene and aggravated DUI in June of 2013, and in September of that year, he was sentenced by the trial court to consecutive terms of five years for fleeing the accident scene and nine years for the aggravated DUI charge. He was facing a total of 29 years in jail—15 years for fleeing the scene and 14 years for the DUI. After the sentencing, Fleming filed a motion to request that the court reconsider, which was denied. He later filed an appeal.
The Fleming Appeal: An Overview
During the appeal, Fleming argued three main points: his motion to suppress his blood draw evidence should not have been dismissed; the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his DUI was the cause of Pauls’ death; and his nine-year jail sentence for the DUI charge was excessive.
Before going to trial, Fleming had filed a motion to suppress blood draw evidence, stating he did not consent to the draw and that it was taken in violation of a prior US Supreme Court decision, which held that a DUI arrest on its own is not enough to justify taking a person’s blood without his or her consent. However, the Illinois appeal court found that this did not apply, as the record of Fleming’s blood draw failed to indicate his consent wasn’t voluntary.
Fleming also argued that the evidence at trial wasn’t enough to establish his DUI as the legal cause of Pauls’ death, taking the position that his impairment was minimal, the victim cut in front of his car, and the victim was also intoxicated – a toxicology report showed that Pauls’ BAC was 0.25 percent when he died. In the appeal court’s decision, however, it was noted that Illinois precedent doesn’t require the defendant’s intoxication to be the sole cause of an accident.
Finally, the defense argued that nine years was excessive for an aggravated DUI because the trial court used deterrence as a factor and the judge used a personal policy of imposing tougher prison terms for people convicted of aggravated DUI. The appeal court found the sentence to be within legal limits and upheld the jail term.
Aggravated DUI in Illinois
As illustrated by Albert Fleming’s case, an aggravated DUI charge in Illinois is a serious charge that can lead to a long prison term, even for first-time offenders. Speak to experienced DUI lawyers in Springfield Illinois if you or a loved one is facing such a charge in the state.