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Sutton v. Edgar

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 19, 1986.

MIKEL L. SUTTON, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

JIM EDGAR, SECRETARY OF STATE, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



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

PRESIDING JUSTICE MCCULLOUGH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

In separate administrative review actions, plaintiff Mikel L. Sutton appealed the November 5, 1984, and July 1, 1985, Secretary of State denials of his requests for reinstatement of driving privileges. In orders entered October 29, 1985, and November 5, 1985, the circuit court denied the relief sought. Following the filing of notices of appeal with regard to both of these orders (October 29, 1985, order — cause No. 4-85-0791; November 5, 1985, order — cause No. 4-85-0853), we consolidated the causes for purpose of review in this court.

Sutton's driving privileges were suspended from June 1979 through August 1979, and his driving privileges were revoked effective September 3, 1980. Furthermore, Sutton received a suspension of driving privileges from July 1981 through October 1981 as a result of his refusal to take a breathalyzer test following his January 1981 arrest for drunk driving, which resulted in his May 1981 conviction of that offense, and his driving privileges were again revoked effective December 18, 1981.

Sutton filed a request for a restricted driving permit in 1982 and a request for reinstatement for full driving privileges or, in the alternative, a restricted driving permit in 1983. Both of these requests were denied.

• 1 On July 20, 1984, Sutton again requested reinstatement of full driving privileges, or, alternatively a restricted driving permit. A hearing was held on this request on September 19, 1984. Following that hearing, the Secretary, on November 5, 1984, denied Sutton's request for a restricted driving permit, but did not specifically rule upon his request for reinstatement of full driving privileges. Sutton subsequently filed still another request for reinstatement of full driving privileges or, in the alternative, a restricted driving permit, and a hearing on that request was held on June 7, 1985. At the June 7, 1985, hearing, the Secretary considered a request for exactly the same relief which Sutton requested on July 20, 1984. Sutton was afforded an opportunity at the July 7, 1985, hearing to present, if he so desired, the same evidence in support of his request for reinstatement of full driving privileges as he presented at the September 20, 1984, hearing. The Secretary did explicitly rule upon his request for full reinstatement following the 1985 hearing. We therefore hold that the Secretary's failure, in 1984, to specifically rule on Sutton's request for reinstatement of full driving privileges does not in itself require remandment of this cause to the Secretary for further consideration of Sutton's request for reinstatement of full driving privileges.

• 2 Furthermore, because we decide in this opinion that the Secretary's 1985 denial of Sutton's request for a restricted driving permit was erroneous, a decision favorable to Sutton with respect to his 1984 request for a restricted driving permit would confer upon him no greater rights than our decision with respect to the denial of his 1985 request. Therefore, the question of the propriety of the Secretary's 1984 decision denying Sutton a restricted driving permit is moot (see Madison Park Bank v. Zagel (1982), 91 Ill.2d 231, 437 N.E.2d 638), and we need only consider the correctness of the Secretary's July 1, 1985, denial of Sutton's request for a reinstatement of driving privileges.

At the June 7, 1985, hearing on his 1985 request for reinstatement of driving privileges, Sutton, on examination by the Secretary's counsel, did not dispute that he committed any of the traffic offenses appearing in his driving record. He stated that at the time of his first arrest for drunk driving, he had consumed four to five beers, and had consumed the same amount of alcohol at the time of his second arrest for drunk driving.

On examination by his attorney, Sutton testified that at the time of the hearing, June 7, 1985, he was employed as a brake assembler for Pullman Trailmobile in Charleston. He has worked there for about 14 months, and the firm is located 22 miles from his home. Sutton's job performance at Trailmobile is above average, and he goes to work on time every day. He has been promoted from production helper to assembler during the time he has been with Trailmobile. Sutton believes that his job with Trailmobile is permanent, and that he has further opportunity for promotion.

Sutton was in the Navy from 1974 to 1978, having enlisted when he was 17, and began to use alcohol while in the service. None of the traffic offenses for which he had been arrested in any way resulted in damage to persons or property or near misses with other vehicles. Sutton has not driven after having consumed alcohol since his 1981 arrest for drunk driving.

Sutton testified that he consumed alcohol for the last time in the spring of 1984. This consisted of drinking one beer when some friend and relatives that he and his mother had not seen for quite a few years visited them. Sutton stated that he quit using alcohol because he "can't afford the trouble that it causes."

On examination by the Secretary's counsel, Sutton stated that he is not now attending any self-help group such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Since he has been employed with Trailmobile, he has never missed a day's work because of inability to get to his job. Also, Sutton denied a statement that he had consumed alcohol in August 1983, which appeared in an alcohol evaluation report prepared by the Prairie Center for Substance Abuse, dated June 6, 1985, which was introduced into evidence. Sutton had no explanation for the discrepancy between this statement and his testimony that he stopped drinking (with the exception of one beer in 1984) in April 1983.

Also on examination by the Secretary's counsel, Sutton was queried concerning a statement appearing in the above-mentioned alcohol-usage evaluation that his mother had told the evaluator that Sutton had cut down his drinking to almost nothing during the latter part of 1983. Sutton responded that his mother may have made that statement because he had not told her that he had stopped drinking at the time that the alcohol counselor questioned her. Finally, Sutton stated that he decided to enter the Hour House program because "it was my second DUI, there was a possibility of a jail sentence, and I thought it over and thought it was a good idea to go down there and get straightened out."

The June 6, 1986, alcohol evaluation which Sutton introduced into evidence, states, in the "Conclusions" section thereof:

"[Sutton is a] person who used and abused alcohol through his youth. He was in treatment at Charleston, IL after having been given a 30 day leave of absence by this [sic] employer. He was in the Detoxification Unit for 6 days and in residential treatment for 28 days. Consequently he lost his job for being gone for over the 30 day leave of absence limit. He attended and completed an alcohol/drug Education Course at the PRAIRIE CENTER FOR SUBSTANCE ABUSE. The client first cut his drinking by [sic] to a social level, I believe controlled drinking, and then decided to and is abstaining. He plans to enter college under the VA bill. The Sheriff and the States Attorney, who in a small county are apt to be informed, attest to his behavioral pattern which does ...


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