JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Chief Justice Karmeier and Justices Freeman, Thomas,
Kilbride, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and
1 The Illinois Vehicle Code prohibits anyone with a revoked
driver's license from driving a "motor
vehicle." 625 ILCS 5/6-303(a) (West 2012). However,
someone with a revoked license may still drive a
"low-speed gas bicycle" without violating this
statute. Id. § 1-146. The Vehicle Code defines
"low-speed gas bicycle" as a "2 or 3-wheeled
device with fully operable pedals and a gasoline motor of
less than one horsepower, whose maximum speed on a paved
level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while
ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20
miles per hour." Id. § 1-140.15.
2 When the State charged defendant John Plank with driving a
motor vehicle with a revoked license, he claimed that the
statute did not clearly tell him which vehicles he could and
could not drive. Specifically he argued that the Vehicle
Code's definition of "low-speed gas bicycle"
was unconstitutionally vague in violation of the due process
clauses of the United States and Illinois Constitutions. The
circuit court agreed with defendant, dismissed the charge
against him, and declared section 1-140.15 unconstitutional
on its face. The State appealed directly to this court. We
find that the Vehicle Code's definition of
"low-speed gas bicycle" satisfies the requirements
of due process of law, and we reverse the circuit court's
decision and remand for further proceedings.
4 Officer Judson Wienke saw defendant John Plank riding a
motorized bicycle down a Douglas County road at a speed of 26
miles per hour. Officer Wienke would later testify that he
believed that "with motorized bikes they are allowed to
go up to 19 miles per hour. Once they hit 20, they have to
have a valid driver's license, insurance, and
registration." He signaled to defendant to stop, and
defendant pulled over. Defendant admitted to Officer Wienke
that his license was revoked.
5 The State charged defendant with violating section 6-303(a)
of the Vehicle Code. Generally, driving a motor vehicle on
state highways with a revoked license is a Class A
misdemeanor. However, the State alleged that defendant's
license had been revoked previously following a conviction
for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI).
After that DUI conviction, defendant was convicted for
driving without a valid license in 2011, 2012, and 2013. This
background led the State to increase the new charge to a
Class 4 felony, requiring at least 180 days'
incarceration. Id. § 6-303(d-3).
6 The circuit court did not conduct any evidentiary hearings,
so Officer Wienke's testimony at the preliminary hearing
provides the only factual record. He described
defendant's bicycle as powered by "a weed-eater
motor" and noted that it was not registered in Illinois.
Although the bicycle had pedals in addition to its gasoline
motor, Officer Wienke testified that he did not see defendant
7 Defendant moved to dismiss the charge, arguing that the
Vehicle Code's definition of "low-speed gas
bicycle" was unconstitutionally vague. He claimed both
that the definition fails to provide persons of ordinary
intelligence with a reasonable opportunity to understand what
is prohibited and that the definition encourages arbitrary
and discriminatory enforcement. The circuit court agreed and
dismissed the charge. The court noted that the definition
refers to a "paved level surface" but no surface is
perfectly level. The definition also relies on the
vehicle's maximum speed with a driver who weighs 170
pounds. The circuit court criticized this aspect of the
statute, repeating defendant's claim that a police
officer "would have to have a scale in their squad car
in order to weigh the individual as soon as they pulled them
8 The State filed a motion to reconsider, which the circuit
court denied. At the State's request, the court also made
explicit findings under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 18 (eff.
Sept. 1, 2006). However, the court neglected to specify
whether it found the statute unconstitutional as applied or
on its face. The State appealed, and this court remanded to
the circuit court so that it could clarify its ruling. The
circuit court made its findings explicit, and it found
section 1-140.15 unconstitutional on its face. This appeal
10 When an Illinois circuit court finds a statute
unconstitutional, Illinois Supreme Court Rule 603 (eff. Feb.
6, 2013) gives this court jurisdiction over the appeal.
Whether a statute violates the United States or Illinois
Constitution is a question of law, which this court reviews
de novo. People v. Madrigal, 241 Ill.2d
463, 466 (2011). Statutes are presumed to be constitutional,
and "[t]o overcome this presumption, the party
challenging the statute must clearly establish that it
violates the constitution." (Internal quotation marks
omitted.) People v. Rizzo, 2016 IL 118599, ¶
11 The State alleged that defendant violated section 6-303(a)
of the Vehicle Code, which states that "any person who
drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle on
any highway of this State at a time when such person's
driver's license, permit or privilege to do so or the
privilege to obtain a driver's license or permit is
revoked *** shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor."
625 ILCS 5/6-303(a) (West 2012). The term "motor
vehicle" includes "[e]very vehicle which is
self-propelled and every vehicle which is propelled by
electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires, but not
operated upon rails, except for vehicles moved solely by
human power, motorized wheelchairs, low-speed electric
bicycles, and low-speed gas bicycles."
(Emphasis added.) Id. § 1-146. Finally,
"low-speed gas bicycle" is defined as a "2 or
3-wheeled device with fully operable pedals and a gasoline
motor of less than one horsepower, whose maximum speed on a
paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor
while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less
than 20 miles per hour." Id. § 1-140.15.
12 The circuit court agreed with defendant that this
definition of "low-speed gas bicycle" was
unconstitutionally vague and, thus, violated the due process
clauses of the United States and Illinois Constitutions. U.S.
Const., amend. XIV; Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, § 2. A
statutory provision can be too vague to satisfy the
requirements of due process of law in two ways: first, the
statute does not provide individuals of ordinary intelligence
a reasonable opportunity to understand what conduct the law
prohibits, or second, the statute does not provide law
enforcement with reasonable standards to avoid arbitrary or
discriminatory enforcement. City of Chicago v.
Morales, 527 U.S. 41, 56 (1999); Bartlow v.
Costigan, 2014 IL 115152, ¶ 40. By allowing
government actors to enforce only those statutes with
definite content, the vagueness doctrine protects the rule of
law from potential abuses of discretion. John C. Jeffries,
Jr., Legality, Vagueness, and the ...