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People v. Rodgers

May 16, 2001

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ANTHONY E. RODGERS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 99-CF-3058 Honorable George J. Bakalis, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice O'malley

Following a bench trial, defendant, Anthony E. Rodgers, was convicted of driving while his license was revoked (DWLR) (625 ILCS 5/6--303(a) (West 1998)). He was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment. See 625 ILCS 5/6--303(d) (West 1998) (enhancement to felony). He appeals, arguing that the State failed to prove that he did not have "a restricted driving permit issued *** under the law of another state" (625 ILCS 5/6--303(a) (West 1998)). We affirm.

Defendant was charged with violating section 6--303(a) of the Illinois Vehicle Code. That section states:

"Any person who drives *** a motor vehicle on any highway of this State at a time when such person's driver's license *** is revoked or suspended as provided by this Code or the law of another state, except as may be specifically allowed by a judicial driving permit, family financial responsibility driving permit, probationary license to drive, or a restricted driving permit issued pursuant to this Code or under the law of another state, shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor." (Emphasis added.) 625 ILCS 5/6--303(a) (West 1998).

At trial, the sole witness was Max Wilson, a Wheaton police officer. He testified that on June 29, 1998, he was on patrol. At about 1 a.m., on a public highway, he noticed a vehicle traveling with an unlit headlight. He stopped the vehicle and asked defendant, the driver, for his license. Defendant said that he did not have one "on his person" but that his name was Jerry J. Foster. Wilson relayed that name to his department, which informed him that the name was an alias used by defendant. Wilson also learned that defendant's driver's license had been revoked. When Wilson confronted him, defendant admitted his identity, and he was arrested.

The State submitted a certified copy of defendant's Illinois driving record. In that record, the Secretary of State confirmed that defendant's license was revoked as of June 29, 1998.

Defendant moved for a directed finding, arguing that the State failed to disprove that he had a restricted driving permit from another state. Relying on People v. Ellis, 71 Ill. App. 3d 719 (1979), the court denied the motion. Defendant was convicted and sentenced, and his motion to reconsider was denied. He appeals, repeating the argument that he made below.

In Ellis, the issue was virtually identical. The defendant was charged with violating section 6--303(a), which at the time stated as follows:

"Any person who drives a motor vehicle on any highway of this State at a time when his drivers license *** is revoked or suspended as provided by this Act or any other Act, except as may be allowed by a restricted driving permit issued under this Act, shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor ***." (Emphasis added.) Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 95½, par. 6--303(a).

The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the State failed to prove that he did not have a restricted driving permit.

The Appellate Court, Fourth District, concluded that the State had no burden to disprove the statutory exception. The court explained:

"The general rule in Illinois is that where *** there are exceptions embraced in the enacting clause creating the offense which affect the description of that offense, the State must allege and prove that the accused does not come within the exception. *** On the other hand, if the exception *** merely withdraws certain acts or persons from the operation of the statute, it need not be negatived, and its position in the act *** is of no consequence. Such exceptions are generally matters of defense. [Citations.] In the instant case, the exception merely withdraws persons with restricted driving permits from the operation of the statute and in no sense is descriptive of the offense." Ellis, 71 Ill. App. 3d at 720-21.

Defendant acknowledges Ellis but asserts that, in light of People v. Laubscher, 183 Ill. 2d 330 (1998), Ellis is "of dubious precedential value." In Laubscher, the defendant was charged with the unlawful use of weapons (UUW) under section ...


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