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People v. Wilson

OPINION FILED JUNE 10, 1986.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

NANCY S. WILSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon. John R. DeLaMar, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE GREEN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant, Nancy S. Wilson, appeals a judgment of the circuit court of Champaign County entered on October 9, 1985, placing her on conditional discharge for the offense of driving under the influence of alcohol (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-501) and subjecting her to various conditions including the payment of costs and a fine. Included in the aforesaid payments which she was required to make were the following: (1) to the Traffic and Criminal Conviction Surcharge Fund of the State treasury, $20; (2) to Champaign County to finance its court system, $5; (3) to the Drivers Education Fund, $25; and (4) to the Violent Crime Victims Assistance Fund, $25. In addition to the foregoing, she was required to pay a fine assessed in the ordinary manner in the sum of $200. She appeals, contending that the legislation purporting to authorize the four listed assessments is unconstitutional. We disagree and affirm.

• 1 Defendant contends that the charges for the Traffic and Criminal Conviction Surcharge Fund and for Champaign County to finance its court system, although not labeled as taxes, are, in fact, taxes. She then maintains that legislation purporting to authorize the charges violates the provisions of article IX, section 2, of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 which require that subjects of taxation be classified reasonably and that the subjects in each class be taxed uniformly. Plaintiff notes that in Boynton v. Kusper (1986), 112 Ill.2d 356, Crocker v. Finley (1984), 99 Ill.2d 444, 459 N.E.2d 1346, and Mlade v. Finley (1983), 112 Ill. App.3d 914, 445 N.E.2d 1240, additional clerk's fees, for issuance of marriage licenses and filing petitions for dissolution of marriages, and fees for the administration of a decedent's estate, respectively, have been held actually to be taxes.

Section 5-9-1(c) of the Unified Code of Corrections provides for the payments to the Traffic and Criminal Convictions Fund and states:

"Every fine imposed in sentencing for a criminal or traffic offense, except an offense relating to parking or registration, or offense by a pedestrian, shall include an amount payable to The Traffic and Criminal Conviction Surcharge Fund of the State Treasury in accordance with the following table:

Amount of fine Amount of Penalty Assessment Up to $59.99 $4.00 $60.00-$79.99 $6.00 $80.00-$99.99 $8.00 $100.00 or more 10% of the total fine imposed

Such amounts payable to such fund shall be assessed by the court imposing the fine and shall be collected by the Circuit Clerk in addition to the fine and costs in the case. The Circuit Clerk shall distribute such amount collected on behalf of The Traffic and Criminal Conviction Surcharge Fund in accordance with the provisions of Section 9.1 of the `Illinois Police Training Act.'" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 1005-8-1(c).)

Section 9.1 of the Illinois Police Training Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 85, par. 509.1) provides for the routing of the moneys collected under section 5-9-1(c) into the designated fund which is to be used for various activities for training law enforcement and correctional officers of local governmental units. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 85, par. 509.

The foregoing provisions clearly indicate that the charges for the Traffic and Criminal Conviction Surcharge Fund are penal fines and not taxes. Section 5-9-1(c) is part of article 9, of chapter V, of the Unified Code of Corrections. Chapter V is designated "Sentencing;" article IX is designated "Fines"; and section 5-9-1 is designated "Authorized Fines." Section 5-9-1(c) states that "every fine" described there "shall include an amount payable to" the fund. The table does speak of a "Fine" and a "Penalty Assessment," but the later portion of section 5-9-1(c) does say that the amounts payable to the fund are to be collected "in addition to the fine and costs." However, these words appear to be used to distinguish the surcharged portion of the fine from the portion of the fine determined by other portions of section 5-9-1. No contention is made that the surcharge is invalid because the use of the surcharged portion of the fine is earmarked for purposes different than that for which the nonsurcharged portion of the fine is used.

The status of the charge made to pay Champaign County for the operation of its court system is not as clear. It arises from a county resolution or ordinance, the existence of which is not disputed, enacted pursuant to section 25.45 of "An Act to revise the law in relation to counties," which states that the powers of counties shall include the power:

"To enact by ordinance or resolution a $5 fee to be added to all fines imposed for the violation of The Illinois Vehicle Code or violations of similar provisions contained in county or municipal ordinances committed in the county. The proceeds of such additional $5 fee shall be used to finance the court system in the county." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 34, par. 429.29.)

Thus, this charge is not stated to be a fine. Rather, it is stated to be a fee.

Unlike the fees charged in Boynton, Crocker, and Mlade, the foregoing fee is not paid for access to the courts or to enable the payer to exercise a right to a marriage license. The fee is imposed as a penalty for violating the law. In Boynton and Crocker those who either sought to marry or to divorce were not shown to be more likely to need the services of domestic violence prevention agencies. Those who have been found guilty of the offenses described in section 25.45 have all caused extra expense to the court system which is the beneficiary of the fund created. The relationship between the municipal traffic offenders and the court system in the county is a reasonable one within due process concepts.

• 2 The classification of municipal traffic offenders as persons to pay this fee while other offenders do not is a reasonable classification. Municipal traffic ordinance violations tend to impact the court system but the county never receives the fine money whereas the county usually receives the fine money for other offenses and sometimes receives the fine money for violations of State traffic laws committed within municipalities. (See City of Decatur v. Curry (1976), 65 Ill.2d 350, 357 N.E.2d 1184; Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 95 1/2, par. 16-105.) The charge is uniform in ...


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