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06/05/97 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. ERIC C. ISAACSON

June 5, 1997

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ERIC C. ISAACSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign County. No. 96TR20967. Honorable Jeffrey B. Ford, Judge Presiding.

Honorable Robert J. Steigmann, P.j., Honorable Rita B. Garman, J. - Concur, Honorable Frederick S. Green, J. - Concur. Presiding Justice Steigmann delivered the opinion of the court. Garman and Green, JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Steigmann

PRESIDING JUSTICE STEIGMANN delivered the opinion of the court:

In October 1996, the State charged defendant, Eric C. Isaacson, with improper emerging from an alley in violation of section 11-1205 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Code) (625 ILCS 5/11-1205 (West 1994)). In November 1996, defendant moved to dismiss the information on the ground that it failed to properly charge him with an offense. The trial court conducted a hearing on that motion and granted it. The State appeals, and we reverse and remand.

I. BACKGROUND

The State's information against defendant alleged that he violated the Code as follows:

"While driving a motor vehicle upon a public highway in Champaign County, Illinois, namely: University Avenue, emerging from an alley, building, private road, or driveway within an urban area[,] he failed to stop his vehicle immediately prior to driving into the sidewalk area extending on such alley, building entrance, road or driveway, and/or failed to yield the right-of-way to a bicycle causing a collision."

Defendant moved to dismiss this information on the ground that it failed to charge him with an offense under section 11-1205 of the Code, which reads as follows:

"The driver of a vehicle emerging from an alley, building, private road or driveway within an urban area shall stop such vehicle immediately prior to driving into the sidewalk area extending across such alley, building entrance, road or driveway, or in the event there is no sidewalk area, shall stop at the point nearest the street to be entered where the driver has a view of approaching traffic thereon, and shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian as may be necessary to avoid collision, and upon entering the roadway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching on such roadway." (Emphasis added.) 625 ILCS 5/11-1205 (West 1994).

Defendant argued to the trial court that the State charged him with failure to yield the right-of-way to a bicycle, although the statute he was charged with violating makes no reference to requiring an operator of a vehicle to yield the right-of-way to a bicycle. Defendant pointed out that section 1-158 of the Code defines "pedestrian" as "any person afoot," while section 1-106 of the Code defines "bicycle," in part, as "every device propelled by human power upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels." 625 ILCS 5/1-158, 1-106 (West 1994). Defendant contended that these definitions and Bekele v. Ngo, 236 Ill. App. 3d 330, 603 N.E.2d 735, 177 Ill. Dec. 665 (1992), a decision interpreting section 11-1205 of the Code, required the trial court to dismiss the information because it failed to state a cause of action.

Bekele cited the Code's definition of "pedestrian" and "bicycle" and held that, in view of those statutory definitions, section 11-1205 of the Code did not require the driver of a vehicle pulling out of an alley to yield the right-of-way to a person on a bicycle. Bekele, 236 Ill. App. 3d at 332, 603 N.E.2d at 737. The Bekele court also added the following:

"This is not to say that an automobile driver emerging from an alley would not be required to yield to a minor operating a bicycle, but merely that the minor does not come within the ambit of the statutes and defendant's liability would be predicated upon common law negligence." Bekele, 236 Ill. App. 3d at 332, 603 N.E.2d at 737.

At the hearing on defendant's motion, the State cited section 11-1512(c) of the Code, entitled "Bicycles on sidewalks," which reads, in pertinent part, as follows: "A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk *** shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances." 625 ILCS 5/11-1512(c) (West 1994). The State contended that the plain language of that section meant that section 11-1205 of the Code required the driver of a vehicle emerging from an alley to yield the right-of-way to a bicyclist just as much as that driver had to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian.

Defendant responded that section 11-1512(c) of the Code did not apply in this case because the Code specifically defined "pedestrian" as a person afoot. Defendant also called ...


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