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Illinois Traffic Citation Quota for Police Officers Deemed Unlawful

In theory, police officers should only investigate crimes or make traffic stops due to a reasonable suspicion of unlawful activity. Unfortunately, though, in some cases, the police may have incentives to charge people with criminal offenses other than the desire to uphold the law—for example, some cities reward officers for issuing citations or have rules establishing ticket quotas. As demonstrated in a recent Illinois ruling, such rules are likely to lead to unjust DUI arrests and other citations and are unlawful. If you were charged with a DUI offense, it is prudent to meet with a seasoned Illinois DUI defense attorney to assess your options.

The Ticket Quota

It is alleged that the City of Sparta had a policy in place that assigned points to certain activities and used the points to evaluate the performance of its officers. Under the policy, all full-time police officers were required to meet a monthly points minimum. Officers who worked the night shift were obligated to obtain 65 points, while those working the day shift needed 82 points. Different activities garnered different points, and issuing citations had a two-point value. Officers that failed to meet the minimum monthly points would be disciplined in a progressive manner. Further, points were used to determine the officer of the month and of the year.

Reportedly, the Policeman’s Benevolent Labor Committee (Union) filed a declaratory judgment action seeking an opinion that the activity-points policy established an unlawful ticket quota that violated Section 11-1-12 of the Illinois Municipal Code. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the City of Sparta, and the Union appealed. The appellate court reversed, finding in favor of the Union. The City then appealed.

Section 11-1-12 of the Illinois Municipal Code

On appeal, the City of Sparta argued that the policy did not violate Section 11-1-12 of the Illinois Municipal Code. The court disagreed, finding that the language of the statute was clear and unambiguous. Specifically, the court noted that the first paragraph of the Section prohibited citation quotas, which it defined as requiring an officer to issue a specific number of citations within a specified period of time.

In the second paragraph, the Section noted it did not prohibit point of contact systems. While point of contact systems were provided a broad definition, they did not include the number of citations issued or the issuance of citations.  The court stated these paragraphs did not contradict one another, but both precluded any express quotas requiring police to issue a specific number of citations within a certain time. As such, the court found that the City of Sparta’s activity point policy violated Section 11-1-12. While the policy did not expressly include citations for DUI offenses, they likely constituted a number of the citations that were issued.

Meet with a Seasoned Illinois DUI Defense Attorney

DUI crimes should only be charged due to evidence a person committed an offense, and not because of a quota regarding arrests or citations. If you are charged with an Illinois DUI crime, it is prudent to speak to an attorney to discuss your rights. Theodore J. Harvatin, of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is a dedicated attorney with the skills and resources needed to help you seek a favorable outcome. You can reach Mr. Harvatin through the form online or at 217.525.0520 to schedule a meeting.

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