APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FIFTH DIVISION
521 N.E.2d 101, 165 Ill. App. 3d 1012, 118 Ill. Dec. 33 1988.IL.58
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Gerald Murphy, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE PINCHAM delivered the opinion of the court. SULLIVAN and MURRAY, JJ., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE PINCHAM
Following separate bench trials the defendants, Robert E. Carver and Paul Dickman, were found guilty of obstructing traffic. Both defendants were fined $500. The defendants now appeal their convictions and their appeals have been consolidated. Although the defendants raise several issues on appeal, we find it necessary to consider only their contention that as railroad train conductors, they could not be properly prosecuted under section 11-1416 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-1416) for their trains' obstructing motor traffic at a vehicular railway crossing in Franklin Park, Illinois. We agree and we reverse.
Both Carver and Dickman were employed by the Milwaukee Railroad as train conductors. Likewise, both defendants were issued citations for obstructing motor traffic at a vehicular railroad crossing in Franklin Park.
In the case of Robert Carver, on July 11, 1984, the train on which he was the conductor stopped. Carver radioed the train's engineer, who informed Carver that he had stopped the train pursuant to the yardmaster's instructions. The train blocked auto traffic for more than 12 minutes. Without being asked whether he had the authority or the ability to move the train, Carver was issued a citation for the train's obstructing traffic, in violation of section 11-1416 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-1416).
In the case of Paul Dickman, on November 23, 1984, the train on which he was the conductor was ordered by someone other than Dickman to stop to make a crew change. Within moments, an airhose broke and the airbrakes were released in an emergency stop. About 15 minutes later a Franklin Park police officer boarded the train and spoke with the engineer. The engineer informed the officer that the train stopped for a crew change but that the crew was late. The engineer was issued a citation for obstructing traffic, also in violation of section 11-1416 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-1416). The officer then went to the train's caboose, where he spoke with Dickman. Dickman informed the officer that the train was stopped because it was in an emergency status. The train blocked vehicular traffic at a crossing for a total of 50 minutes.
In separate trials, the trial court held that there was no emergency reason for stopping either train and that the defendants as conductors were in command of their respective train. The trial court found each defendant guilty of obstructing traffic as charged.
It is provided in section 11 -- 1416 of the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code, which the defendants were found guilty of violating:
"No person shall wilfully and unnecessarily hinder, obstruct or delay . . . any other person in lawfully driving or traveling along or upon any highway within this State . . .." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 95 1/2, par. 11 -- 1416.
The defendants maintain that this foregoing section does not govern trains obstructing motor traffic at vehicular railway crossings. The defendants insist that section 14.1 of "An Act in relation to . . . operating railroads" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 114, par. 70.1) regulates and controls railroad employees' obstruction of highway grade crossings with a train. Section 14.1 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 114, par. 70.1) provides as follows:
"It is unlawful for any railroad employee to willfully or intentionally permit any train . . . to obstruct public travel at a railroad-highway grade crossing for a period in excess of 10 minutes, except where such train . . . cannot be moved by reason of circumstances over which the railroad employee has no control. However, no employee acting under the rules or orders of the railroad corporation or its ...