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Cisneros v. White

January 24, 2003


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 00 CH 6767 Honorable John K. Madden, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Reid


Following a hearing, defendant Secretary of State (Secretary) denied plaintiff Juan Cisneros' petition for reinstatement of his driving privileges or, in the alternative, issuance of a restricted driving permit (RDP). On plaintiff's complaint for administrative review, the circuit court affirmed the Secretary's denial of reinstatement of full driving privileges but reversed the Secretary's denial of the issuance of the RDP. The Secretary appeals, and we reverse the order of the circuit court which granted plaintiff an RDP.

Initially, we note that plaintiff did not file a brief on appeal. Nevertheless, even when an appellee does not file a brief on appeal, the reviewing court can consider the appeal pursuant to the principles set forth in First Capitol Mortgage Corp. v. Talandis Construction Corp., 63 Ill. 2d 128, 131-33 (1976).

The record on appeal establishes that on August 3, 1981, plaintiff, then 39 years old, was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), which occurred in conjunction with an accident that involved vehicle damage. Plaintiff was convicted in October 1981 and his license was summarily suspended and ultimately revoked in November 1981. In 1986, plaintiff tried to reinstate his license and eventually enrolled in an outpatient rehabilitation program with Hispano Alcoholic Services, Inc., now known as Healthcare Alternative Systems, Inc. (HAS).

1987 Uniform Report

In August 1987, HAS completed an alcohol and drug evaluation uniform report (uniform report) in which plaintiff stated that he currently consumed about 3 beers every other day before dinner and 3 beers every other weekend, but in the past had consumed 10 to 15 beers every weekend and experienced increased tolerance, hangovers, loss of control, and morning relief drinking. Further, plaintiff admitted that his drinking affected him financially and led to arguments with his wife. Plaintiff also stated that he had two DUI arrests and explained that his 1981 DUI resulted when he rear-ended another car as he drove home from a bar about 1 a.m. when the road was slippery from the rain. Plaintiff admitted that he drank 10 beers in four hours that evening and thought he was a "bit drunk" but able to drive. The police did not administer a breath-alcohol test.

HAS classified plaintiff as a Level III problematic use (dependent) based on his 1981 DUI arrest, 1977 reckless driving charge, admitted physical symptoms and problems from alcohol use, and a Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test score of 11, which indicated a present drinking problem. HAS recommended intensive outpatient alcoholism treatment (Levels II and III) for plaintiff.

1988 Update

In a March 1988 uniform report update, plaintiff reported that he had abstained from alcohol since July 1987, attended Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings, felt better physically and enjoyed a greatly improved relationship with his wife. Plaintiff's wife corroborated plaintiff's statements. Plaintiff completed the recommended five weeks of intensive outpatient treatment in December 1987 and 10 weekly sessions of the after-care program in March 1988. During treatment, plaintiff also attended AA meetings once or twice a week. HAS recommended that plaintiff continue attending AA meetings in order to grow in his abstinence and noted that plaintiff was in remission and complying with his treatment recommendations. Nevertheless, HAS maintained plaintiff's Level III classification based on his disclosed symptoms of dependency in the past.

Apparently, plaintiff did not attempt to reinstate his license until 1997. In a January 1997 memorandum, HAS responded to a request for plaintiff's treatment information by explaining that his records were destroyed because they were more than 10 years old.

1997 Uniform Report

In February 1997, Central State Institute (CSI) prepared a uniform report, which indicated that plaintiff had completed less than seven years of education and had limited comprehension of the English language, so a CSI staff member served as an English-Spanish interpreter. According to the CSI evaluator, plaintiff denied any alcohol use prior to his 1981 DUI arrest and stated that police stopped him for driving without headlights due to a car malfunction. The evaluator noted that although plaintiff reported two DUI offenses in 1978, his driving record only reflected the 1981 DUI. Plaintiff also reported that he no longer attended AA meetings. Further, plaintiff reported that before he abstained from alcohol he drank more times per month than he intended and drank in the morning to "medicate shakes." According to the evaluator, Mildred Cisneros, plaintiff's wife, allegedly stated that before plaintiff abstained from alcohol, she was not aware of the extent of his drinking problem but was concerned about his accidents and revoked license.

Plaintiff's 47 Mortimer-Filkens score indicated that he was a presumptive problem drinker. Further, plaintiff's 1 Substance Use Inventory score indicated minimal impairment in either physical, social, emotional or occupational areas, but his 3 Behavior Assessment Scale score indicated severe dysfunction in those areas. Plaintiff's H Multiple Offender Profile indicated a high risk to repeat the offense without intervention. The evaluator characterized plaintiff's responses as inconsistent because he allegedly denied any alcohol use prior to his DUI arrest and, although he considered himself an inactive alcoholic, he reported no prior symptoms of dependence. The evaluator classified plaintiff as a Level II (significant risk) apparently based on plaintiff's 1981 DUI and driving record. The evaluator recommended that plaintiff return to a licensed treatment provider to undergo additional intervention based on plaintiff's lack of documentation and "various inconsistencies in his reports."

1999 HAS Clarification Letter

HAS counselor Millie Miranda sent the Secretary a letter dated January 27, 1999, to address various inconsistencies between plaintiff's 1987 and 1997 uniform reports. Miranda explained that after HAS classified plaintiff as a Level III in the August 1987 uniform report, plaintiff underwent 100 hours of intensive outpatient ...

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