Failure to Comply with Filing Requirements Not Necessarily Fatal to Traffic Citations

Author: Brad Stewart

We previously reported on the Fifth Appellate District’s People v. Geiler ruling, which most notably dismissed a traffic violation because the issuing municipality displayed a “clear and consistent violation” of the Supreme Court Rule 552 filing requirements. Rule 552 requires that portions of traffic citations be provided to the circuit court clerk within 48 hours of issuance. The issuing municipality in the Geiler case, the City of Troy, routinely filed tickets twice a week with the circuit clerk, resulting in only about half of the tickets being timely filed.

The Illinois Supreme Court overturned the Appellate Court, stating two holdings in the majority opinion:

  • Some harm to the defendant is generally required to sustain a challenge to a rule violation. The traffic defendant did not allege that he suffered any prejudice as a result of Troy’s tardiness in filing the citation.
  • No evidence was presented that Troy deliberately failed to follow Rule 552. The Court specifically reserved the right to reach a different conclusion if the facts demonstrated a deliberate disregard of Rule 552.

The overturning of the Geiler decision is beneficial to law enforcement efforts because the Appellate Court’s reasoning would have seemingly applied to misdemeanor traffic defendants and not just petty traffic defendants. Also, there is continued uncertainty as to how police departments can strictly honor the 48-hour filing requirement when courthouses are closed over weekends and holidays unless an electronic transmission option is available.

Brad Stewart

Author: Brad Stewart