Heyl Royster

 

Conviction Reversed for DUI Offense Outside the Corporate Limits

 By: Emily Perkins, eperkins@heylroyster.com

The Second District Appellate Court in Village of Bull Valley v. Zeinz, 2014 IL App (2d) 140053, recently reversed a DUI conviction prosecuted locally because a village failed to establish that the offense was committed within its corporate limits.

Daniel Zeinz was arrested and later convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol and improper lane usage. At trial, the Village of Bull Valley Officer James Page testified that while on duty, he observed a white Pontiac cross over the white fog line and drive partly on the shoulder of the road in Wonder Lake, IL. Officer Page testified that the driver of the Pontiac exited the Village of Bull Valley and proceeded to drift left and cross over the yellow center line. Officer Page stopped the vehicle and arrested Zeinz after he failed several field sobriety tests. Officer Page admitted that he did not see Zeinz commit the offenses while driving within the Village, although he did observe Zeinz exiting the Village. The trial court found Zeinz guilty of the offenses and Zeinz appealed.

Section 16-102(c) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/16-102(c)), forbids a municipality from prosecuting a violation unless: (1) the violation occurs within the municipality's corporate limits and (2) the State's Attorney has provided written permission. Otherwise, the State's Attorney "shall prosecute all violations."

In this case, the Village of Bull Valley corporate limits did not include the jurisdiction west of Ridge Road on Route 120, where Zeinz was detained and arrested by Officer Page. For that reason, Zeinz argued that section 16-102(c) did not authorize the Village to bring the case against him because his offenses occurred outside the jurisdiction. Zeinz argued that there was no evidence that he violated any law within the Village's limits because Officer Page only saw him drive in Wonder Lake, not in the Village of Bull Valley.

The Second District concluded that the trial court erred when it found that Zeinz committed the offenses within the Village limits. The fact that Officer Page observed Zeinz exit the Village was a guess rather than a conclusion. The court noted that when the Village decided to prosecute the case, it had burden to prove that Zeinz committed his offenses within the Village limits. The Village failed to meet that burden, and the judgment was reversed.

More municipalities are adopting provisions of the Illinois Vehicle Code, such as DUI, for local prosecution or administrative adjudication. In this case, the Second District concluded that traffic offenders can only be prosecuted within the jurisdiction where the offense occurred. While this case may raise the question of what constitutes pursuit and what constitutes normal patrol routes, it is a firm reminder that officers should be aware of the boundary limitations between the Illinois Vehicle Code and local ordinances.