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City of Champaign v. Hill

FEBRUARY 21, 1961.

CITY OF CHAMPAIGN, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

JOHN P. HILL ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign county; the Hon. CHARLES E. KELLER, Judge, presiding. Reversed and remanded with directions.

REYNOLDS, J.

Rehearing denied May 2, 1961.

This is an action asking for a declaratory judgment construing and interpreting Section 235, Subsection (a) 1, Article XVII of the Uniform Act Regulating Traffic, Chapter 95 1/2, Illinois Revised Statutes. The plaintiff is a municipal corporation, and the defendants are the County Clerk, County Treasurer and State's Attorney of Champaign County, Illinois. The cause arose when one William Fox was arrested within the city limits of the plaintiff city, by plaintiff's police officers. One of the plaintiff's officers signed an information charging the said Fox with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the Uniform Act Regulating Traffic. The defendant Fox pleaded guilty and was convicted of the charge in the County Court of Champaign County, fined $100.00 and the fine was paid to the County Clerk of the County. Plaintiff city claims the fine money under the provisions and terms of said Section 235, Subsection (a) 1. Demand was made upon the defendants for the fine money and they refused to pay it over to the city. Thereupon suit was instituted by the city for the construction and interpretation of the Statute by means of a declaratory judgment. The trial court allowed a motion by the defendants to dismiss the complaint of the city, but this order was subsequently vacated and judgment was finally entered by the trial court denying plaintiff's motion for a summary judgment, and barring the city from further action in the case. From that order the plaintiff appeals to this court.

It is not questioned that the violation occurred within the city limits, or that the city officers followed the case by one of them signing a criminal information in the county court, charging the defendant Fox with driving while intoxicated. The only question thus presented to this court is the construction of the language of the section in question, namely Section 235(a) 1, of Chapter 95 1/2 Illinois Revised Statutes. The language of the section in dispute is as follows:

"235 #138. Disposition of fines and forfeitures.

(a) Fines and penalties recovered under the provisions of this Act shall be paid over and used as follows:

1. For offenses committed upon a highway within the limits of a city, village or incorporated town or under the jurisdiction of any park district, to the treasurer of the particular city, village, incorporated town or park district, if the violator was arrested by the authorities of the city, village, incorporated town or park district, provided the police officers and officials of cities, villages, incorporated towns and park districts shall seasonably prosecute for all fines and penalties under this Act. If the violation is prosecuted by the authorities of the county, any fines or penalties recovered shall be paid to the County Treasurer."

The subsection in question was part of the original motor vehicle act enacted in 1935. The original form of the subsection provided that fines and penalties recovered under the Act, for offenses committed upon a highway within the limits of a city, village, incorporated town, or under the jurisdiction of a park district should be paid over to the treasurer of the particular city, village, incorporated town or park district.

In 1941, the subsection was amended to only apply to traffic violations committed within the limits of a city, village or incorporated town of 500,000 or more population.

In 1943, the subsection was amended, by taking out the 500,000 or more population requirement, and adding that the violator must be arrested by the authorities of the city, village, incorporated town or park district, and further requiring that the officials of the city, village, incorporated town or park district should seasonably prosecute for all fines and penalties under the act.

In 1951, the subsection was amended and the part that the local officials must make the arrest was dropped.

In 1953, the subsection was amended and the part requiring the arrest by local officials was again put in the subsection.

In all the amendments beginning with 1943, the subsection contained a provision that if the violation was prosecuted by the authorities of the county, any fines or penalties recovered should be paid to the County Treasurer.

So far as this court can determine the exact question involved here has not been presented to any court in Illinois. Until the City of Champaign brought the instant suit, no city, village, incorporated town or park district has disputed the right of the County to retain the fines assessed under the Motor Vehicle Act, and this case presents a matter of first impression in Illinois. The place of the violation is fixed and does not admit of any dispute, i.e., it must be committed upon a highway within the limits of the city, village, or incorporated town, or under the jurisdiction of a park district. Here, the violation occurred within the city limits of Champaign. The arrest must be made by the authorities of the city, village, incorporated town or park district. The police officers of Champaign made the arrest. The police officers and officials of cities, villages, ...


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