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08/15/95 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. JOHN R. SCHAEFER

August 15, 1995

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
JOHN R. SCHAEFER, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kendall County. No. 93-TR-4621. Honorable Grant S. Wegner, Judge, Presiding.

The Honorable Justice Hutchinson delivered the opinion of the court: Bowman and Inglis, JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hutchinson

JUSTICE HUTCHINSON delivered the opinion of the court:

The facts in this case are not in dispute. On September 8, 1993, at approximately 7:47 p.m., defendant, John R. Schaefer, was operating a bicycle northbound on Briarcliff Road in the Village of Montgomery, Kendall County, at the intersection of Route 30. The intersection is controlled by stoplights at all four corners. Defendant disobeyed the red light and proceeded into the intersection causing a collision with the operator of a motorcycle. The operator of the motorcycle was travelling eastbound on Route 30 and had the right-of-way. The investigating officer found defendant lying in the grass. The officer detected a strong odor of alcohol emitting from defendant's mouth. Defendant's speech was slurred and his eyes were bloodshot. Before the collision, witnesses had seen defendant weaving his bicycle on the roads throughout the subdivision. Witnesses had also seen defendant holding a beer can just prior to the collision. The parties agree that defendant was uncooperative with the officer and refused a blood test for alcohol testing after being placed under arrest for driving while under the influence of alcohol in violation of the Illinois Vehicle Code (the Code). (See 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(2) (West 1994).) Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the driving under the influence charge. Defendant argued that a bicycle was not a vehicle under section 1-217 of the Code. (See 625 ILCS 5/1-217 (West 1994).) Therefore, section 11-501(a)(2) could not apply to him in his status as bicyclist. On April 7, 1994, the trial court granted defendant's motion to dismiss. The State has filed its timely notice of appeal.

On appeal, the State argues that the trial court erred when it dismissed the charge of driving while under the influence of alcohol against defendant. The State asserts that the trial court failed to consider section 11-1502 of the Code which states:

"Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this Code, except as to special regulations in this Article XV and except as to those provisions of this Code which by their nature can have no application." (625 ILCS 5/11-1502 (West 1994).)

The State reasons that since section 11-1502 forces bicyclists to obey the traffic laws and because section 11-501(a)(2) is a traffic law, section 11-501(a)(2) applies to defendant. The State also contends that there is nothing in the nature of section 11-501(a)(2) that would prevent it from applying to bicyclists. Finally, the State argues that the trial court erroneously relied upon the case of People v. Staton (1993), 248 Ill. App. 3d 799, 189 Ill. Dec. 76, 619 N.E.2d 777. We disagree and we affirm.

A recent case has held that under section 11-1502 a bicyclist is granted all rights and is subject to all duties of the Code. ( Syrcle v. Springer (1992), 239 Ill. App. 3d 148, 155.) A bicyclist is also "chargeable with the knowledge that he is required to obey ordinary traffic laws." La Pointe v. Boddy (1981), 99 Ill. App. 3d 111, 115, 54 Ill. Dec. 449, 424 N.E.2d 1352.

In terms of statutory construction,

"the judiciary possesses the authority to read language into a statute which has been omitted through legislative oversight [citations], and that a court may properly consider not only the language used in the statute, but also the reason and necessity for the law, the evils sought to be remedied, and the purpose to be achieved [citation]. These rules, however, are premised on the fundamental principle of statutory construction, which is to give effect to the intent of the legislature. [Citations.]

A court's inquiry into the legislative intent behind a statute must necessarily begin with the language of the statute. [Citation.] This court has held that when the language of a statute is clear on its face, its meaning should be given effect without resort to supplementary principles of statutory construction." ( People v. Chandler (1989), 129 Ill. 2d 233, 253, 135 Ill. Dec. 543, 543 N.E.2d 1290.)

Courts "do not favor any construction that would raise legitimate doubts as to the constitutional validity of a statutory provision." ( People v. Scheib (1979), 76 Ill. 2d 244, 252, 28 Ill. Dec. 513, 390 N.E.2d 872.) This is especially true with criminal statutes because,

"due process requires that the proscription of a criminal statute be clearly defined and provide sufficiently definite warning concerning the proscribed conduct when measured by common understanding and practices. [Citation.] This is necessary so that 'the person of ordinary intelligence [has] a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited' and can act accordingly." ( Staton, 248 Ill. App. ...


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