McHenry County sheriff’s sergeant’s alcohol test result of .192 is accurate, judge rules

Judge: Chewing his nails and cuticles does not make the test results unreliable

Daniel Patenaude

A McHenry County judge ruled Tuesday the .192 alcohol content result of a sheriff’s sergeant’s breath test was not unreliable nor impacted because he was chewing his nails and cuticles or ingested a “foreign object” prior to submitting to the test.

Judge Michael Coppedge also found that Crystal Lake police officers observing Daniel Patenaude, 47, of Woodstock for the required 20 minutes prior to administering the test were sufficiently compliant under the Illinois administrative code.

The hearing was part of Patenaude’s attempt at rescinding the suspension of his driver’s license, the result of a breath test showing he was above the legal limit of 0.08 when charged with DUI on Feb. 2.

A summary suspension civil hearing is the opportunity to contest the underlying reason or reasons for someone’s license being suspended. This is not a trial to determine guilt or innocence if the DUI. Coppedge had the choice to either rescind or sustain the suspension.

Patenaude’s attorney, Pat Walsh, argued the test’s credibility could have been impacted by either him biting his nails and cuticles or putting a “foreign object” in his mouth when the police officers were not observing him properly.

Coppedge said he believed there was “not strict, but substantial compliance” by the officers who administered the test.

Pointing to earlier testimony when the police officers said they had looked away at times, Walsh argued “certainly, there is enough here to say they didn’t comply.”

Walsh also said the 20 minute observation period should have restarted after the officers looked away.

During the hearing, where Patenaude was not present, the state called Illinois State Trooper Tyler Vandeventer to testify as an expert witness in administering alcohol breath tests. He appeared on a video screen in the courtroom.

The trooper, who watched the 20 minute observation period, said no foreign substance, such as finger nails, cuticles or lint from his socks, would have resulted in a .192 alcohol content.

“It could only be alcohol that would result in .192 BAC,” he said later adding that the test relies on deep lung air not what is in the mouth or upper respiratory system.

The hearing stems from an incident that began about 7 p.m. Feb. 2 when Patenaude called Crystal Lake police for a “motorist assist” near the area of Skyridge Drive and Ackman Road, according to the Crystal Lake police report provided to the Northwest Herald.

When the police officer arrived she asked if he wanted a tow truck for his black Jeep Grande Cherokee and he said no that he just wanted someone to change his flat tire. When the officer looked at his vehicle she saw two flat tires on the front and back passenger sides. When asked how this happened he said he drove over the median in the center of the road, according to the report.

At times, Patenaude told different versions and added details of how he got to that location and how he got the flat tires.

Patenaude eventually told her he was driving from Fire Bar in Crystal Lake when he turned and ran over the median. He said he was unfamiliar with the roads in the area and thought that road was clear.

The officer said when Patenaude was standing outside his vehicle she “observed” a slight odor of alcohol from his breath and a smell of cologne/perfume. She said he had bloodshot and watery eyes, “slight slur to his speech” and a golfball sized dip of chewing tobacco in his cheek. When he returned to his vehicle she said “the odor of an alcoholic beverage was overwhelming as well as the smell of cologne/perfume.”

When she asked Patenaude for identification, he opened up his wallet where she saw a police badge, according to the police report.

He also was issued a traffic citation for crossing a designated median and driving an uninsured vehicle, according to the police report.

Patenaude is due back in court Friday. Requests for information from the McHenry County Sheriff’s office about employment or current job status were unsuccessful. A Freedom of Information Request is pending.

His attorney declined to comment after the hearing.

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