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The People of the State of Illinois v. John Solan

June 26, 2012

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
JOHN SOLAN,
DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 11-DT-1772 Honorable Liam C. Brennan, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Burke

JUSTICE BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Presiding Justice Jorgensen and Justice Hutchinson concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 Defendant, John Solan, petitioned to rescind the summary suspension of his driving privileges. Following a hearing, the trial court granted defendant's petition and rescinded the suspension. The State timely appealed. At issue is whether the trial court properly granted defendant's petition upon finding that defendant was not "placed under arrest for [driving under the influence (DUI)] *** as evidenced by the issuance of a Uniform Traffic Ticket" (625 ILCS 5/2-118.1(b)(1) (West 2010)), where count I of the "DUI Criminal Complaint" erroneously alleged that defendant committed the offense of "Leaving Scene of an Accident-Damage Only (11-402)" but otherwise made numerous references to DUI and cited the DUI statute (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(2) (West 2010)). For the reasons that follow, we reverse.

¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 3 The record reveals that, on May 7, 2011, defendant was charged with three separate offenses. Count I was set forth on a preprinted form entitled "DUI Criminal Complaint" and alleged in part as follows:

"[D]efendant committed the offense of Leaving Scene of an Accident-Damage Only (11-402) in violation of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, in this, to wit, that the said Defendant committed the offense of Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol in violation of Chapter 625 Section 5/11-501(a)(2) of the Illinois Compiled Statutes in this, to wit: that the Defendant drove or was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle within this State while under the influence of alcohol, and against the peace and dignity of the People of the State of Illinois." (The underlined portion was handwritten by the arresting officer.)

Counts II and III (set forth on a complaint entitled "Misdemeanor Complaint") charged defendant with leaving the scene of an accident (625 ILCS 5/11-402 (West 2010)) and with operating an uninsured motor vehicle (625 ILCS 5/3-707 (West 2010)).

¶ 4 The officer's sworn report, dated May 7, 2011, provided that defendant was "asked to submit to a chemical test[] to determine the alcohol *** content of [his] breath" and "warned of the consequences" and that this took place "[s]ubseqent to an arrest for violating Section 11-501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code." The sworn report further provided that the officer had "reasonable grounds to believe the arrestee was in violation of Section 11-501."

¶ 5 Defendant was served with immediate notice of the summary suspension of his driving privileges for failure to submit to testing. On June 30, 2011, defendant filed a petition to rescind his summary suspension. On that same day, the State was permitted to amend count I of the complaint to replace the language "Leaving Scene of an Accident-Damage Only (11-402)" with "Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol."

¶ 6 The hearing took place on August 23, 2011. The scope of the hearing was limited to one issue: whether defendant "was placed under arrest for [DUI] *** as evidenced by the issuance of a Uniform Traffic Ticket." (Emphasis added.) 625 ILCS 5/2-118.1(b)(1) (West 2010). The sole argument advanced by defendant in support of his claim that he was not arrested for DUI was that he did not "receive[] a ticket for DUI." The trial court agreed. The court found that the complaint was "inherently confusing." The court noted that, if the question were whether defendant was placed under arrest for DUI, he "quite possibly could lose." The court further noted the State's argument that "the defendant *** had to know he was arrested for DUI because it said [he] was in the law officer's sworn report." However, the court stated that "the statute doesn't stop with saying he was placed under arrest for DUI." Relying on the well-settled rules of statutory construction, the court found that, because the plain language of section 2-118.1(b)(1) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/2-118.1(b)(1) (West 2010)) included the words "as evidenced by the issuance of a Uniform Traffic Ticket," the legislature must have intended the court to look to the ticket to determine whether defendant had been arrested for purposes of the statute. The court then concluded that, because the officer wrote in "Leaving Scene of an Accident-Damage Only (11-402)" on the complaint, the complaint did not comply with the requirement that defendant's arrest be "evidenced by the issuance of a Uniform Traffic Ticket."

ΒΆ 7 The trial court granted defendant's petition, and the ...


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