Motorists who dare to drive on suspended or revoked licenses would lose their wheels under a crackdown advanced today to reduce violent crime and abuses ex- posed by the Chicago Sun-Times' "Why Are They Driving?" series.
More than two years after striking out in his attempt to add driving on a suspended or revoked license to the laundry list of offenses punished by vehicle impoundment, Transportation Committee Chairman Tom Allen (38th) succeeded in pushing the ordinance through the Police Committee.
Allen's ordinance would allow offenders to reclaim their vehicles after paying a $1,000 administrative penalty on top of towing and storage fees.
One-third of all accidents resulting in deaths or serious injuries involve at least one motorist driving on a suspended or revoked license. The same applies to 25 percent of all street-corner drug arrests.
"Those numbers underscore the potential to not only make our roads safer, but also get drugs off the street,” Allen said. In the "Why Are They Driving?" series, the Sun-Times watched drivers whose licenses had been suspended leave courthouses and drive away — even after promising a judge that they would not drive.
The last time the Police Committee considered the impoundment penalty, the Department of Streets and Sanitation warned that city auto pounds were bursting at the seams and that the new offense could "push us over the limit.”
On Tuesday, Deputy Commissioner Steve Sorfleet said auto pound capacity is no longer an issue. There is plenty of room at the inn.
As they say, on those infomercials for those who suffer from insomnia, "but wait there is more"! A judge in Dupage County just ruled on this vehicle forfeiture issue and said, not so fast, we still have both the U.S. Constitution and the Illinois Constitution requiring due process before taking someone's property.
A state law that allows police and municipalities to seize the vehicles of accused repeat drunk drivers or those who have driven repeatedly on revoked licenses was deemed unconstitutional Tuesday.
A DuPage County judge ruled that Illinois’ vehicle forfeiture statute gives the state too broad of authority to impound vehicles, particularly in cases where a vehicle’s co-owner loses a car despite not being charged or where an accused offender faces only misdemeanor charges.
n a 19-page opinion, DuPage County Associate Judge Thomas C. Dudgeon said the law backed by anti-drunk driving advocates violated the due process clauses of the Illinois and federal Constitutions.
“It fails to provide an adequate means to test the state’s right to hold respondents’ property in either a meaningful time frame or a meaningful manner while the underlying forfeiture action is awaiting trial,” Dudgeon wrote.
The ruling surprised anti-drunk driving advocates, who warned of dire consequences if Dudgeon’s decision stands.
It looks like City Council didn't see Judge Dudgeon's ruling before deciding that they could increase the City's coffers by taking the vehicle of someone accused of driving while suspended, revoked or a DUI.