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Blue Arrow Douglas, Inc. v. Howlett

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 24, 1977.

BLUE ARROW DOUGLAS, INC., PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

MICHAEL J. HOWLETT, SECRETARY OF STATE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ARTHUR J. DUNNE, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE GOLDBERG DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Blue Arrow Douglas, Inc. (plaintiff) brought an action under the Administrative Review Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 110, par. 264 et seq.), to review a decision by the Illinois Secretary of State, Michael J. Howlett (defendant). Defendant had ruled that a vehicle belonging to plaintiff had made an intrastate movement in Illinois and therefore was required to be registered in Illinois under the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 95 1/2, par. 3-402A). The trial court reversed this decision and defendant has appealed.

Defendant contends that his administrative decision was not against the manifest weight of the evidence but was in accordance with law; and the tax imposed on plaintiff is not invalid as a burden on interstate commerce.

An investigator from the Secretary of State's office testified that he stopped a tractor-trailer vehicle belonging to plaintiff at 9:30 a.m. on August 5, 1974, in Chicago. The vehicle displayed a valid Michigan license plate, a valid Illinois reciprocity plate (see Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 95 1/2, par. 3-402B), but no Illinois prorate decal (see Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 95 1/2, pars. 3-413, 3-701). The driver produced three bills of lading for the cargo in the trailer, No. 4607. Two of the bills of lading were for shipments originating in Flint, Michigan, and destined ultimately for Grand Forks, North Dakota. The third bill of lading was for the shipment here involved. It had been picked up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, brought into Chicago on a different trailer, No. 2605, and then loaded onto this trailer, No. 4607, at the plaintiff's Chicago terminal.

When accosted by the officer, the truck driver was proceeding to the facility of Chippewa Freight Lines, Bedford Park, Illinois. The shipment in question was to have been delivered to Chippewa to be forwarded to Cumberland, Wisconsin, its ultimate destination. The shipments represented by the other two bills of lading would be transferred to another carrier (interlined) for the trip to their ultimate destination in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Agents for defendant required plaintiff to pay a flat weight tax of $842 for use of the public highways under the Class N designation. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 95 1/2, par. 3-815(a), truck weight of 36,001 lbs. to 41,000 lbs.

Plaintiff's director of safety and personnel testified that the billing of the carrier's charges for these shipments was all done in Michigan. There was never any rebilling for the shipments. He also stated that none of plaintiff's vehicles had Illinois prorate plates. He verified that the shipment here involved, destined ultimately to Cumberland, Wisconsin, did not enter Illinois on trailer No. 4607, but was put on this trailer at plaintiff's Chicago terminal.

Defendant found, as a fact, that the shipment here involved, destined for Wisconsin, was picked up at the plaintiff's Chicago terminal and moved intrastate to Bedford Park, Illinois, for further transport out of the State. Defendant defined an "intrastate" movement as "[t]ransportation wherein cargo or freight is loaded with [sic] Illinois for an Illinois destination" and as such, any motor vehicle operating "intrastate" upon the highways of Illinois was required to be properly registered. Defendant concluded that the required registration was proper and refund of the amount paid was denied.

In approaching the problem of administrative review, our duty is to determine whether the administrative findings of fact are contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. (Kerr v. Police Board (1974), 59 Ill.2d 140, 141-42, 319 N.E.2d 478.) However, in our opinion, in the case before us, the issue here is one of law. We find no factual dispute.

The first problem is determination of whether plaintiff's vehicle was engaged in an intrastate or interstate movement regarding this shipment. The pertinent statutes identically define "intrastate" or intrastate commerce as (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 95 1/2, pars. 1-134, 3-402A):

"Transportation originating at any point or place within this State and destined to any other point or place within this State, irrespective of the route, highway or highways traversed, and including transportation which passes into or through another State before delivery is made within this State, and including any act of transportation which includes or completes a pickup within Illinois for delivery within Illinois."

Defendant is vested with the power and duty of administering the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 95 1/2, par. 2-101). This includes power to promulgate rules and regulations as are necessary to carry out the law in the public interest (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 95 1/2, par. 2-104(b)).

Rule 3-402C adopted by defendant sets out a number of definitions for intrastate movements of commercial vehicles. This rule provides as follows:

"A. Transportation of property, cargo or freight from any Illinois point of origin to any Illinois destination.

B. Transportation of property, cargo, or freight from any Illinois point of origin to an Illinois dock, terminal, or warehouse for ...


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