On April 4, 2024, in Cammacho v. City of Joliet (2024
IL 129263), the Illinois Supreme Court used a case involving municipal tickets
issued to truckers driving overweight vehicles to clarify that Section 1-2.1-2
of the Illinois Municipal Code does not prohibit home rule municipalities from using
an administrative hearing process to assess fines in cases involving the
movement of motor vehicles or reportable offenses under the Illinois Vehicle
Code because Division 2.1 does not contain language restricting home rule
authority. However, because the tickets issued to the truckers did not comply
with the procedures required by the City’s own ordinances, the fines assessed by
an administrative hearing officer were reversed.

Division 2.1 of the Illinois Municipal Code (65 ILCS 5/) sets
forth a system of administrative adjudication which, at the time the overweight
tickets were issued, applied only to home rule municipalities (the statute now permits
non-home rule municipalities to adopt Division 2.1 by ordinance). Section 1-2.1-1
excludes two types of offenses from adjudication under Division 2.1: “(i)
proceedings not within the statutory or the home rule authority of
municipalities; and (ii) any offense under the Illinois Vehicle Code or a
similar offense that is a traffic regulation governing the movement of vehicles
and except for any reportable offense under Section 6-204 of the Illinois
Vehicle Code.”

Two appellate courts had interpreted subsection (ii) of
Section 1-2.1-1 as a restriction on home rule powers; according to those
appellate decisions, Division 2.1 of the Municipal Code deprived home rule
units of the jurisdiction to adjudicate traffic regulations governing the
movement of vehicles or reportable offenses under Section 6-204 of the Illinois
Vehicle Code.

The Supreme Court noted that the powers of home rule units
when exercising any power pertaining to its government and affairs are limited
only by the Illinois Constitution itself or preemption of home rule authority by
the General Assembly. It also cited Section 7 of the Statute on Statutes (5
ILCS 70/7) to point out that since January 12, 1977, whenever the General
Assembly chooses to limit the powers of a home rule unit by statute the
legislature is required to insert into the statute specific language limiting or
denying the power or function of a home rule unit and specifically setting
forth how it is a limitation or denial of home rule powers.

Since Section 1-2.1-1 does not use language explicitly
restricting or denying home rule authority, it is not a restriction on home
rule powers. The portions of the previous appellate decisions which had held
otherwise were explicitly vacated. The Court noted that the language in
Division 2.1 stating that only home rule units could use Division 2.1 was
simply a grant of authority to home rule units, not a restriction of home rule
power (as mentioned above, the statute now grants non-home rule units the authority
to use Division 2.1).

The Supreme Court stated that, although home rule units were
not required to use Division 2.1 of the Municipal Code to adjudicate
ordinance violations, the advantage to doing so is that the findings,
decisions, and orders of hearing officers may be enforced in the same manner as
a court of competent jurisdiction (65 ILCS 5/1-2.1-8). If another method of
adjudication is used, the municipality must first commence an action in
circuit court to convert the administrative decision into a collectable
judgment. (An adjudication of a moving violation or a reportable offense requires
the municipality to register the adjudicative decision with the circuit court if
it seeks to enforce the decision as a debt. The strong implication of the
decision is that the remedies of Section 1-2.1-8 are not available.) The
opinion is silent as to what procedures should be used to report the
adjudication to the Secretary of State.

The Court concluded by examining the language of the City’s Code of Ordinances. It noted that the Code required police officers to
issue a uniform traffic citation “in the case of a reportable offense of the
Illinois Vehicle Code…”. Since the drivers who received the tickets for driving
overweight trucks were CDL holders, violations of overweight vehicle ordinances
were reportable violations under Section 6-204 of the Illinois Vehicle Code.
Since the City’s own ordinances required such offenses to be prosecuted in the
circuit court, the administrative decisions issued by the City’s hearing
officer were reversed.

Post Authored by Todd Greenburg, Ancel Glink