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People v. Sherman

OPINION FILED MARCH 29, 1974.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE,

v.

CLIFFORD SHERMAN, APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Second District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of McHenry County; the Hon. Leonard Brody, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE RYAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant, Clifford L. Sherman, was convicted following a bench trial in the circuit court of McHenry County of the offense of driving his motor vehicle without a valid driver's license, in violation of section 6-101 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 95 1/2, par. 6-101). The appellate court affirmed (9 Ill. App.3d 547), and we granted the defendant's petition for leave to appeal.

Defendant was arrested on April 1, 1971. He was 19 years old. He had been discharged from the Marine Corps in February, 1970, and had resided with his father until August of 1970, at which time he left home. His father thereupon forwarded to the Secretary of State a verified written request that the defendant's driver's license be cancelled, and the Secretary of State, pursuant to that request, issued an order of cancellation on September 8, 1970.

Section 6-107 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 95 1/2, par. 6-107) provides as follows:

"Sec. 6-107. Applications of minors. The application of any person under the age of 21 years, and not legally emancipated by marriage, for a drivers license or permit to operate a motor vehicle issued under the laws of this state, shall be accompanied by the written consent of the father of the applicant, if the father is available and has custody of the applicant; otherwise by the mother or guardian having custody of the applicant, or in the event there is no parent or guardian, then by another responsible adult."

Section 6-108 of the Illinois Vehicle Code provides as follows:

"Sec. 6-108. Cancellation of license issued to minor. The Secretary of State shall cancel the license or permit of any minor under the age of 21 years in any of the following events:

1. Upon the verified written request of the person who consented to the application of such minor that such license or permit be cancelled;

2. Upon receipt of satisfactory evidence of the death of the person who consented to the application of such minor;

3. Upon receipt of satisfactory evidence that the person who consented to the application of a minor no longer has legal custody of such minor.

After such cancellation the Secretary of State shall not issue a new license or permit for a period of 6 months after the date of said cancellation. The Secretary of State may, after hearing, waive the 6 month period if he finds that an undue hardship exists. Upon the expiration of this 6 month period a new application may be made as required by this Act. These provisions for cancellation shall not apply in the event the minor has attained the age of 21 years."

The defendant contends that the statute arbitrarily discriminates against emancipated unmarried minors inasmuch as it does not require the written consent of a responsible adult for a minor who has been legally emancipated by a marriage. The defendant contends that this arbitrary discrimination denies to the defendant the equal protection of the law guaranteed by the fourteenth amendment of the Federal Constitution.

In analyzing this contention we start with the basic proposition that there is a presumption of the validity of legislative classifications, and the burden of rebutting that presumption is on the party challenging the validity of the classification. (People v. McCabe, 49 Ill.2d 338.) Unless the classification constitutes an infringement of a constitutionally protected interest or is inherently suspect, all that is required to sustain it is that it have some rational and reasonable basis. (Lindsey v. Normet, 405 U.S. 56, 31 L.Ed.2d 36, 92 S.Ct. 862; Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S. 71, 30 L.Ed.2d 225, 92 S.Ct. 251; People v. McCabe, 49 Ill.2d 338; Begich v. Industrial Com., 42 Ill.2d 32.) However, this court stated in McCabe, "[B]ut there is a judicial obligation to insure that the power to classify has not been exercised arbitrarily and, if it has been, the legislation cannot be justified under the label of `classification.'" 49 Ill.2d at 341.

We can see no reasonable basis for the distinction which the General Assembly has drawn between minors who have been emancipated by marriage and those who have been otherwise emancipated. In Iroquois Iron Co. v. Industrial Com., 294 Ill. 106, this court held that when a child who is physically and mentally able to take care of himself, voluntarily abandons the parental roof and "leaves its protection and influence and goes out to fight the battle of life on his own account" he is emancipated. This court held that emancipation is inferred where the child contracts for his services and collects and uses his own earnings, and in the same case held that when a minor enlists in the military service ...


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