Illinois Supreme Court Defines Scope of Municipal Administrative Adjudication


On April 4, 2024, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a ruling in Cammacho v. The City of Joliet, 2024 IL 129263 (Ill. 2024) clarifying the authority of home rule municipalities to use administrative adjudication processes to assess fines for violations of traffic ordinances.

The case arose from several administrative decisions by the City of Joliet in which commercial truck drivers were found liable and fined for violating ordinances prohibiting overweight and/or overlength vehicles on non-designated highways. The drivers challenged the City’s decisions by filing a complaint for administrative review in the circuit court of Will County. They argued that the City was prohibited from using its administrative processes to adjudicate the ordinance violations under Section 1-2.1-2 of the Municipal Code, citing to Catom Trucking, Inc. v. City of Chicago, 2011 Ill. App. 101146 (Ill. App. Ct. 2011). In that case, the First District Appellate Court held that home rule municipalities, such as the City of Joliet, lacked jurisdiction to administratively adjudicate ordinance violations for any offense under the Illinois Vehicle Code or any “similar offense that is a traffic regulation governing the movement of vehicles.”

The circuit court rejected these arguments and affirmed the City’s administrative decisions, and the Second District Appellate Court later reversed. Ultimately, the Supreme Court affirmed the Second District’s decision, but on different grounds. In doing so, the Court held that Section 1-2.1-2 of the Municipal Code does not preempt the City’s home rule authority to administratively adjudicate violations of its ordinances—including those for offenses “under the Illinois Vehicle Code” or that are “traffic regulation[s] governing the movement of vehicles.” In doing so, the Court expressly vacated those portions of the Second District’s judgment and the First District’s opinion in Catom Trucking which held to the contrary.

The Court highlighted that home rule municipalities’ authority is primarily limited by the Illinois Constitution or by General Assembly preemption. It reasoned that, under Section 7 of the Statute on Statutes, 5 ILCS 70/7, the General Assembly must include specific language in a statute in order for it to limit home rule powers. Regarding Section 1-2.1-2, the Court found no such limiting language, indicating the General Assembly’s intent not to restrict or limit home rule authority to administratively adjudicate so-called “moving violations.” However, while not expressly ruling on the issue, the Court’s opinion strongly suggests that administrative decisions and fines for moving violations may not be automatically enforceable under Section 1-2.1-8 of the Municipal Code. This would effectively vitiate the primary incentive for administratively adjudicating such violations in the first place. As a result, going forward, municipalities would be required to initiate separate civil actions in the circuit court to convert administrative decisions for moving violations into judgments in order to collect unpaid fines and penalties.

Notwithstanding its holding as to Section 1-2.1-2, the Court found that the City’s own ordinances prohibited the City from using its administrative processes to adjudicate the ordinance violations in question. Specifically, the City’s ordinances required that “reportable offenses of the Illinois Vehicle Code” be adjudicated in the circuit court, and the Court determined that the ordinance violations in question were “reportable offense[s]” under Section 6-204 of the Illinois Vehicle Code because the truck drivers were CDL holders. Since the City’s ordinances required that the offenses be prosecuted in the circuit court, the Court found that the City’s ordinances did not confer jurisdiction for it to adjudicate them using its administrative processes and upheld the Second District’s reversal of the administrative decisions.

The Court’s ruling has several important takeaways. Critically, it affirms the broad power of home rule municipalities (and other municipalities since the Municipal Code now permits non-home rule municipalities to adopt Division 2.1 by ordinance) to use administrative adjudication processes to enforce their ordinances, including for “moving violations.” However, it also raises questions as to the feasibility or, at least, the desirability of administratively adjudicating moving violations given that municipalities will likely face additional hurdles in attempting to collect related fines and penalties. Finally, the decision underscores the need for municipalities to understand and follow their own ordinances to protect the integrity of enforcement efforts.

If you have any questions regarding this decision or the impact it may have on your organization, please contact Mark Kimzey at (312) 506-4461 or, or Lauren McKenzie at (312) 506-4463 or

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