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Andersen v. Edgar

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 8, 1986.

GREGORY A. ANDERSEN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

JIM EDGAR, SECRETARY OF STATE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. Richard E. Mann, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE WEBBER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The Secretary of State (Secretary) appeals the order of the circuit court of Sangamon County. Upon administrative review the circuit court reversed the decision of the Secretary denying plaintiff reinstatement of driving privileges.

On May 11, 1981, plaintiff was involved in a one-vehicle automobile accident wherein he "wrapped [his] car around a pole." Plaintiff had consumed a 12-pack of beer that night, and he was driving his automobile with four passengers when the accident occurred. None of those involved were seriously injured, although they were all treated for minor cuts and bruises at a hospital, then released. Plaintiff was arrested and charged with speeding and driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI). He was convicted of those charges on November 25, 1981, and January 22, 1982, respectively. His license was revoked on March 11, 1982, pursuant to section 6-205(a)(2) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 95 1/2, par. 6-205(a)(2)).

Plaintiff applied informally for a restricted driving permit and also for reinstatement of full driving privileges in February 1985. On February 22, 1985, plaintiff was evaluated by a hearing officer, who recommended that plaintiff's driving privileges be fully reinstated. The Secretary denied plaintiff's application. Plaintiff applied for a formal hearing, which was held on May 2, 1985. This hearing officer recommended that plaintiff's petition be denied. The Secretary thereafter denied the petition. Plaintiff filed a complaint in the circuit court seeking administrative review and arguing the decision of the Secretary was against the manifest weight of the evidence. The circuit court found for plaintiff and entered an order reversing the Secretary. The Secretary filed a timely appeal. The only issue on appeal is whether the Secretary's decision denying plaintiff full driving privileges is against the manifest weight of the evidence. We, therefore, take a more detailed look at the facts in the record.

Plaintiff initially applied for a restricted driving permit in 1982. This file was made part of the record in the instant appeal and plays a significant role in the Secretary's decision. Plaintiff requested a restricted driving permit in order to drive vehicles while at work and submitted a letter from his employer to that effect.

A formal hearing was held on July 14, 1982. At that hearing plaintiff submitted a form showing completion of a remedial education program and an alcohol assessment, both of which were completed by Frank Hirbe, the alcohol-program coordinator at the Monroe County Mental Health Services, Inc. In the alcohol assessment Hirbe stated that plaintiff had a history of excessive use of alcohol and use of drugs:

"Gregory has shown many of the symptoms of alcoholism except for loss of control. According to the Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST) Greg scored 29 points with 10 points or more indicated as a score for most alcoholics.

Gregory first drank at age 15. First became intoxicated at age 16. He first realized a problem at age 18. His longest dry period was 2 months in September and October of 1981.

Gregory indicated he drank beer whenever available, usually weekly. He indicated periods of excessive drinking [sic] there were periods of 2 days to a week when he would not drink. He has not used alcohol in the past 2 weeks.

Gregory first used marijuana at age 14. During the summer of 1979 he started using 2 to 3 joints a day, 1 to 3 days per week, periodically for 27 months. Also during 1979 Greg admitted using speed 1 to 3 days a week for a 4 month period. He is not presently using drugs at this time."

In the evaluation summary, dated April 22, 1982, Hirbe indicated his belief that plaintiff had an alcohol problem and was in need of treatment. He recommended plaintiff participate in outpatient counseling and attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings. Hirbe further stated:

"I believe Greg recognizes alcohol and drugs as a problem in his life and is not attempting to abstain from alcohol and drugs and has agreed to continued counseling and AA attendance."

Hirbe updated the evaluation on July 6, 1982, for the formal hearing by adding the statement: "Since April 14, Greg has remained free from alcohol and drugs, and has greatly improved his relationship with family members. He is receiving excellent support. He has been unable to attend AA because of transportation problems." This update still indicated plaintiff had an alcohol problem and that treatment was recommended.

On the remedial-education verification, Hirbe commented: "I feel that Greg has a good attitude and with some assistance should be able to live comfortably without alcohol and drugs." The Secretary denied plaintiff a restricted driving permit finding that plaintiff had a drinking problem and that the Secretary's interest in public safety and welfare prohibited the Secretary from ...


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