Illinois Supreme Court rules rescission of Statutory Summary Suspension is prospective only
In People v. Elliot, 2014 IL 115308 (2014), the Illinois Supreme Court decided the issue of whether the rescission of a statutory summary suspension was prospective or retrospective. This ruling means that even if your statutory summary suspension (SSS) is rescinded, you may still be convicted of driving on a suspended license while your suspension is in effect.
What is a Statutory Summary Suspension?
When a person is arrested for Driving Under the Influence in Illinois, their driver’s license is automatically suspended on the 46th day after their arrest. The length of the suspension depends on how many times the person has been arrested for DUI and whether the driver submitted to a breath test.
Facts of People v. Elliot
On August 26, 2009, the Defendant was arrested for DUI in Perry County, Illinois. At that time, he was properly given notice of his Statutory Summary Suspension. On September 1, 2009, the Defendant filed a Petition to Rescind his Statutory Summary Suspension.
On October 11, 2009, the Defendant’s Statutory Summary Suspension took effect. Two days later, on October 13, 2009, the Defendant was arrested for Driving on a Suspended License.
On October 19, 2009, the Court granted the Defendant’s Petition to Rescind his Statutory Summary Suspension. The Defendant was convicted of Driving on a Suspended License after a bench trial and appealed arguing that because his Statutory Summary Suspension was rescinded, the rescission was retroactive and he never should have been suspended in the first place.
Illinois Supreme Court Decision
In deciding the case, the Illinois Supreme Court analyzed the term “rescind.” In determining what definition of “rescind” the Illinois legislature intended, the Supreme Court found that the prospective only definition brought certainty to statute. In contrast, if the retroactive definition was used, a person may only be found guilty of Driving on a Suspended License if the Statutory Summary Suspension is upheld.
The question therefore becomes, if the public policy that informs statutory summary suspension is to remove affected drivers from the roads as swiftly and as effectively as possible, which of the two readings of “rescind” is more likely to bring this about — the one that makes criminal culpability for driving on a suspended license certain, or the one that makes it merely possible? Clearly, it is the reading that makes criminal culpability certain, as drivers who know that driving on a suspended license is a crime irrespective of any future rescission are less likely to drive on a suspended license than are those who believe there is a chance of escaping criminal culpability for such conduct via rescission.
Thus, the Court ruled that even if your Statutory Summary Suspension is rescinded, you may be convicted of Driving on a Suspended License if you are arrested prior to the rescission.