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People v. Montgomery

July 17, 2002

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
BRADLEY R. MONTGOMERY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Moultrie County No. 01TR624 Honorable Dan L. Flannell, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cook

Released for publication.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
BRADLEY R. MONTGOMERY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.

Appeal from Circuit Court of Moultrie County No. 01TR624 Honorable Dan L. Flannell, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cook

The State of Illinois appeals the May 25, 2001, order of the Moultrie County circuit court granting defendant Bradley R. Montgomery's motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence. Defendant had been charged by information with operating a motor vehicle in violation of gross weight restrictions (625 ILCS 5/15-111(b) (West 2000)). We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

On January 8, 2001, Officer Rick McFarland of the Illinois State Police was on "scale duty" in Moultrie County. The State Police had set up portable truck scales in the City of Sullivan in Moultrie County, and it was Officer McFarland's mission for the day to drive around looking at any truck he saw and see if he could tell if the truck was overweight. Officer McFarland stopped trucks that he suspected were overweight and ordered them to drive to the scales in Sullivan to be weighed.

On this date, Officer McFarland was driving southbound on Route 32 in Moultrie County as part of his scale duty. He observed an approaching northbound international semitractor trailer truck turn west off of Route 32 onto Findlay Road. Defendant was driving this truck. Officer McFarland turned west as well and followed the truck for one-half to three-fourths of a mile before activating his lights and stopping the truck. The right rear tires on the trailer appeared to be "bulged out a little bit." It was Officer McFarland's experience from 50 or 60 prior cases that overweight trucks have bulging tires. This was the only indicator that the truck was overweight which Officer McFarland observed. Officer McFarland ordered defendant to drive to Sullivan, which was about five miles from where the stop occurred, to be weighed.

Defendant's truck weighed in at 78,500 pounds, which was 5,220 pounds in excess of the maximum allowed by statute. 625 ILCS 5/15-111(b) (West 2000). The State subsequently charged defendant with operating a motor vehicle in violation of gross weight restrictions.

The State later dismissed the charge. Officer McFarland contacted the prosecutors on his own initiative after learning of this, and the charge was reinstated. The prosecutors had apparently misapprehended some of the facts in the case, i.e., defendant's truck was licensed to carry a load of up to 80,000 pounds, and defendant's truck was in compliance with weight limits for Route 32. However, defendant's truck was overweight for Findlay Road, where it was stopped.

Defendant filed a motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence, arguing that Officer McFarland did not have sufficient reason to believe defendant's truck was overloaded to justify the stop. The trial court agreed and granted the motion. The State appeals.

II. ANALYSIS

We must first note that defendant has not filed an appellee's brief. However, the record is simple, and the claimed errors are such that we can decide them without the aid of an appellee's brief. We therefore reach the merits of the appeal. See First Capitol Mortgage Corp. v. ...


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