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Jennings v. White

December 2, 2005

JOHN R. JENNINGS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
V. JESSE WHITE, SECRETARY OF STATE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Sangamon County No. 03MR297, Honorable Dennis L. Schwartz, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Knecht

In April 2000, plaintiff, John R. Jennings, applied to the Secretary of State (Secretary) for a restricted driving permit (RDP). The Secretary denied this petition. Jennings appealed to the Sangamon County circuit court, which, in September 2001, found Jennings "would be a safe and responsible driver" and ordered the Secretary to issue Jennings an RDP.

On April 2003, before his RDP expired, Jennings petitioned the Secretary pro se for full reinstatement of his driving privileges. The Secretary, in June 2003, denied his request. Later, Jennings petitioned the circuit court for administrative review. The court denied his petition.

Jennings appealed. On appeal, Jennings argues the circuit court erred by (1) finding the Secretary properly refused to issue Jennings an RDP; (2) affirming the Secretary's decision when the court had found him a safe and responsible driver in September 2001; (3) allowing the Secretary to supplement the record on administrative review; and (4) approving the Secretary's consideration of an invalid arrest for driving under the influence (DUI). We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

Jennings had a history of alcohol-related traffic offenses beginning in April 1984 when he was arrested for illegal transportation of alcohol. In November 1988 and May 1993, Jennings was arrested for DUI. Following both arrests, Jennings refused to submit to a Breathalyzer test and his driving privileges were summarily suspended. Jennings's driving privileges were revoked on October 6, 1993. In June 2000, the Secretary denied plaintiff's request for reinstatement of his driving privileges or, in the alternative, an RDP. Jennings petitioned the circuit court for administrative review. While his appeal to the circuit court was pending, Jennings, in February 2001, was arrested for DUI. In April 2001, the circuit court of Iroquois County rescinded Jennings's later statutory summary suspension upon finding "No Reasonable Grounds."

In September 2001, the circuit court of Sangamon County ordered the Secretary to issue Jennings an RDP after finding Jennings met his burden of proving he would be a safe and responsible driver. The Secretary, in December 2001, ordered the issuance of a RDP for a period of 12 months. Approximately six months later, Jennings received an RDP.

Before the RDP expired, Jennings, in April 2003, applied to the Secretary for full reinstatement of his driving privileges. In so doing, Jennings requested a formal hearing under section 2-118 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/2-118 (West 2002)).

In support of his request, Jennings submitted an alcohol and drug evaluation, as well as signed documents attesting to Jennings's abstinence and participation in a nontraditional support-recovery program. The evaluation, signed May 2003, stated, "No reported substance use since 9-22-93." It further indicated no changes since the earlier evaluation dated November 16, 1999. The evaluator concluded Jennings was high risk but in remission. A neighbor, by affidavit dated 2003, stated she knew Jennings to be abstinent for 10 years. Jennings's wife reported Jennings "had some relapses in the past but he attend[ed] support meetings and they [helped] him a lot." Jennings's mother-in-law reported she had known Jennings 23 years and saw him daily. She reported, "Each time I see John he is sober and a gentleman."

Jennings proceeded pro se and testified at the hearing. According to Jennings, before his last DUI arrest in 2001, he went on a service call to fix a machine in a bar. The driver became intoxicated. Jennings, even though he knew his license had been revoked, decided to drive. He was arrested. The arresting officer told him he pulled him over because he was driving on the wrong side of the road. Jennings stated he took the Breathalyzer test, but the officer refused to show him the results. Jennings received a summary suspension after he was pulled over.

Jennings testified that before his 1988 and 1993 DUI arrests he drank approximately once or twice per week, usually on weekends. He drank "[p]robably a 12-pack if not more," and he drank "to be a part of the crowd." After the 1993 DUI arrest, Jennings quit drinking.

Jennings testified he had relapsed. Between 1993 and 1995, he would be sober for a month and relapse for a short time. His last relapse occurred in approximately 1995. The reason for the relapse was the death of a friend. The relapse lasted one day. Jennings had not consumed a drink since 1995. Jennings did not tell his evaluator about the relapses because she "never asked me no questions like that." Jennings also did not tell the hearing officer at his hearing on the RDP about the relapses: "She never asked me, 'Have you ever had a relapse?'"

Jennings testified he experienced hangovers from drinking. He did not experience blackouts or miss work. He did notice an increased tolerance to alcohol. When Jennings quit ...


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