An Illinois appeals court overturned the DUI conviction of a Round Lake woman, ruling that the woman’s confession alone cannot lead to her conviction.
Belinda Delatorre, 29, of Round Lake, was found guilty on January 18, 2019, of driving under the influence of alcohol following a bench trial.
Round Lake Police Officer Robert Robinson testified that he and other officers were dispatched to the 300 block of Lunar Drive in Round Lake for a report of a domestic disturbance in the early morning on September 20, 2017.
Robinson arrived to find Delatorre and two other men, who were helping the woman search for her boyfriend after a domestic altercation, according to court documents.
Delatorre told the officers she had been involved in the altercation with her boyfriend in Round Lake Beach and he left.
The woman believed her boyfriend went to his parent’s house on Lunar Drive. Delatorre told the officers she drove her car there and pointed towards a white Chrysler.
She said the two other men with her had followed her to the Lunar Drive location in a separate car, court documents said.
Robinson testified that Delatorre’s speech was slightly slurred, her eyes were red and glossy, and her clothes were disheveled.
He also detected the odor of an alcoholic beverage on her breath. Suspecting that she was intoxicated, Robinson administered field sobriety tests.
Robinson concluded that Delatorre was under the influence of alcohol and he placed her under arrest for DUI.
The woman refused to take a breathalyzer test and she denied having driven while being booked into jail.
A Lake County judge found Delatorre guilty and determined her confession to having driven the Chrysler was sufficiently corroborated by the presence of that vehicle and her pointing to the vehicle that she drove.
Delatorre was sentenced to 24 months of probation and 240 hours of public service along with several other conditions.
Delatorre appealed the ruling to the Appellate Court of Illinois Second District, who agreed with the woman and ruled on Tuesday that the conviction cannot stand based on her confession alone.
“Defendant was not observed in the driver’s seat. There was no evidence that she possessed the keys to the vehicle. Nor was there evidence that she owned or regularly drove the Chrysler,” the appellate court said in their ruling.
“Under these circumstances, the evidence independent of defendant’s statement is grounds for nothing more than speculation that she drove a vehicle. The evidence does not tend to prove the commission of a crime; it neither confirms nor strengthens defendant’s statement that she drove to the scene,” they added.