Joseph E. Birkett
Joseph E. Birkett

A slip of the pen on an arrest report wasn’t enough to invalidate a DUI suspension, a state appeals panel ruled Thursday.

The 2nd District Appellate Court reinstated Ross E. Raupp’s statutory summary suspension in connection with the drunken-driving charge, finding the “obvious scrivener’s errors” in the original police paperwork — later corrected — gave the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office enough information for action.

Raupp was arrested near DeKalb for DUI on Jan. 12, 2019. At the time of his arrest a sheriff’s deputy on the scene filled out a preprinted sworn report form that he gave to Raupp. The officer listed Raupp’s birth date as in 1996 and directly beneath that spot, where he was supposed to list the date that “Notice of Summary Suspension/Revocation [was] Given On” he instead wrote 1/12/1996.

The driver was born in 1996, and the officer filling out the report in January 2019 indicated as much. But when he filled out the date of the arrest, he wrote 1996 again instead of 2019.

When the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office let Raupp know his license would be suspended in March 2019, he moved to strike the suspension on grounds the paperwork was defective.

A DeKalb County judge agreed. The 2nd District justices did not.

“Obviously, notice was not given to defendant and defendant did not submit to testing on January 12, 1996, because, among other reasons, this was six months before defendant was even born,” Justice Joseph E. Birkett wrote. “The year was incorrect on parts of the sworn report, which may have raised suspicions about whether the month and day for those dates was also incorrect. However, the arrest date and the certification date listed the same month and day as the notice and test date.”

Other references on the form to Jan. 12 of the correct year worked to show consistency, Birkett wrote.

The bottom of the arrest form stated “[t]he suspension/revocation shall take effect on the 46th day following issuance of this notice.” The officer also indicated on the form that everything listed was correct.

Ten days later, the deputy received notice that there were mistakes in his original report. The officer amended the report and mailed it back on Jan. 23, 2019.

Raupp received a letter from the secretary of state alerting him his driving privileges would be suspended effective March 9, 2019 — 45 days after Jan. 23, 2019, and 56 days after Jan. 12, 2019, when he was given the original report.

DeKalb County Judge Phillip G. Montgomery granted Raupp’s motion, finding the forms defective. The DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s office appealed.

The 2nd District panel rejected Raupp’s arguments that the form became legally void when it was filled out incorrectly at first.

Birkett wrote regardless of whether the Secretary of State’s Office had enough information to confirm the suspension, Raupp was still given notice on the day of his arrest.

“In reaching this conclusion, we certainly do not condone the sloppy police work shown here. However, as our supreme court has made clear, the summary suspension laws should be liberally construed to foster the legislature’s clear purpose of promoting safety on the roads,” he wrote.

Birkett wrote to conclude that the errors in the original report constituted a fatal defect “would thwart the legislature’s express purpose and elevate form over substance.”

Justices Kathryn E. Zenoff and Michael J. Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.

Raupp was represented by Melissa A. Maye of The Law Office of Melissa A. Maye in Yorkville as well as Adam Miller and J. Brick Van Der Snick of Van Der Snick Law Firm Ltd. in St. Charles.

The people were represented by DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard D. Amato and State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutors Patrick Delfino, Edward R. Psenicka and John G. Barrett.

Neither side could be reached for comment.

The case is People v. Ross E. Raupp, 2020 IL App (2d) 190309.