Appeal from Circuit Court of Sangamon County No. 99MR456 Honorable Thomas R. Appleton, Judge Presiding
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cook
Secretary of State, Jesse White (Secretary), appeals a circuit court order requiring him to reinstate Ronald Mohr's driving privileges. We affirm the circuit court.
In September 1982, Mohr was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and pleaded guilty to that charge. His license was revoked, and the trial court sentenced him to 100 days in jail. In March 1987, Mohr was arrested for driving on a revoked license (DWR). He was convicted and the date that he was eligible to reapply for his license was extended.
In April 1989, Mohr consumed a case of beer, i.e., 24 beers, crashed his truck, and sustained serious injuries. He was convicted of DUI and sentenced to 11 months in the county jail. In November 1993, Mohr was again arrested for DWR. He was convicted, and his license revocation was extended.
In 1994, Mohr was evaluated for alcohol abuse by Michelle Titran, a licensed evaluator. The evaluation revealed that, prior to his accident in 1989, Mohr typically consumed between one and two six-packs of beer twice a week, occasionally drinking a third six-pack on Saturdays or days when he was not required to report to work. Mohr was classified as a Level II--significant-risk alcohol abuser, and Titran recommended that he complete at least 10 hours of alcohol and drug remedial education and a minimum of 20 hours of outpatient treatment, followed by an aftercare plan. Mohr attended the required alcohol-risk education classes.
Mohr again attended alcohol counseling in 1999, as a prerequisite to his petition to regain his driver's license. 92 Ill. Adm. Code §1001.440(a)(6) (West CD-ROM March 1999) (alcohol evaluation must be current, i.e., completed within six months of the hearing). Kathleen Cullop, a treatment counselor, also diagnosed Mohr as a Level II--significant-risk abuser and indicated in her report that Mohr had been "presented with the tools to maintain a nonproblematic pattern of alcohol use through abstinence and/or controlled use." Cullop also indicated that Mohr had abstained from alcohol since his accident in 1989. Due to Mohr's long period of sobriety, Cullop concluded that no further recommendations beyond seeking community and family support were necessary. She believed Mohr's prognosis was good.
In April 1999, Mohr petitioned the Secretary for reinstatement of driving privileges. At the hearing on Mohr's petition, he submitted the 1994 and 1999 evaluations. He also testified that he had resolved to stop drinking immediately after the 1989 accident, and he has not had alcohol since that time. Mohr admitted that he quit drinking because once he starts he cannot stop. Although Mohr has never been diagnosed as an alcoholic and does not attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, he believes that he is an alcoholic.
In presenting his case to the hearing officer, Mohr apologized for his past behavior and submitted letters from friends, family, co-workers, and a minister regarding his ongoing sobriety and his need for a driver's license. Mohr testified that he is employed by a company based in Minnesota and that his job requires him to travel throughout the United States. Due to a recent change in company policy, all employees are now required to have a valid driver's license.
After hearing all of the evidence, the hearing officer questioned Mohr's Level II--significant-risk classification and recommended that Mohr's petition be denied. The hearing officer concluded that the facts supported a Level III--high-risk classification, stating:
"The [p]petitioner's admission of alcoholism, his loss of control over his drinking in the past, along with his belief that he could not return to controlled drinking in the future is inconsistent with his Level II classification, and more consistent with a Level III[--] [d]ependent classification.
Given the [p]petitioner's Level II classification is being called into question ***, it becomes unclear if the 20 hours of treatment completed by [p]petitioner is sufficient to meet his needs."
The classification "level" assigned to a petitioner affects the administrative requirements needed to obtain reinstatement of driving privileges. Christiansen v. Edgar, 209 Ill. App. 3d 36, 45, 567 N.E.2d 696, 702 (1991). The least serious of the three levels is designated "Level I" and the most serious "Level III." 92 Ill. Adm. Code §1001.410 (West CD-ROM March 1999). Those drivers placed in Level III--high-risk (dependent) category must not only complete 12 consecutive months of abstinence from alcohol, but also show implementation of an "ongoing support/recovery program." 92 Ill. Adm. Code §1001.440(b)(3) (West CD-ROM March 1999).
Based upon the perceived inconsistencies in the evidence presented at the hearing, the hearing officer directed Mohr to return to his alcohol evaluator and treatment provider to resolve the discrepancies between the evaluations and Mohr's testimony. The hearing officer found Mohr had failed to carry his burden to prove that he would be a safe and responsible driver and would not endanger the public safety and ...