Court: Drunken-driving laws apply in gated community

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Kevin Murphy/Special to The Gazette
Thursday, May 3, 2012

A man who was driving drunk in a golf cart on the streets of a Fontana gated community can be convicted of operating while intoxicated, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday.

In a decision issued Wednesday, the District 2 Court of Appeals upheld Michael F. Hyzy's two convictions that followed him crashing a golf cart into a tree at Abbey Springs condominium community in May 2010. The accident left Hyzy unconscious and bleeding and his passenger, Ethan Rudolph, bruised and scratched.

A subsequent blood test revealed Hyzy had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.206, according to the appeals opinion.

A Walworth County jury found Hyzy, 27, of Midlothian, Ill., guilty of causing injury by operating while intoxicated and causing injury by operating a motor vehicle with a prohibited alcohol level. Hyzy had two prior drunken-driving convictions.

Judge David Reddy sentenced him to 360 days in jail and fined him $1,950 plus costs.

On appeal, Hyzy's attorney argued the convictions should be dismissed because the state's drunken driving laws apply only to premises "held out to the public for use of their motor vehicles" and not the streets within Abbey Springs. The 583-unit development has a gate and guardhouse and non-residents are expected to get permission before entering, appeals attorney Jefren Olsen wrote in a brief filed with the court.

While police sometimes patrol the streets and the village plows them, speed limits are enforced by Abbey Spring's security personnel and tickets are handled by the development's board of directors, Olsen wrote.

The appeals court disagreed and found the streets are considered public roads routinely used by the public en route to the golf course or clubhouse, which are open to the public, and to deliver the mail and newspapers or visit an owner.

In upholding Hyzy's convictions, Judge Mark Gundrum cited a similar case involving the Geneva National Community in Lake Geneva, which is a gated community where the roads are subject to the state drunken driving law.

An uninvited visitor to Abbey Springs who "drives by a guard at the gatehouse without stopping or requesting a pass, that person will not be followed to inquire his or her purpose for visiting. After all (as the security chief said) Abbey Springs is not unwelcoming," Gundrum wrote in the 10-page opinion.

Olsen did not return a call seeking comment on the decision and Assistant District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld was not available for immediate comment Wednesday afternoon.

Last updated: 8:40 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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