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Woodstock Vehicle Impoundment law

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Woodstock Vehicle Impoundment law

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
April 1, 2012

OK, let's say a Woodstock cop stops you and, under the new law passed by our esteemed City Council on January 17, 2012 (and not announced to the public), confiscates your vehicle. Of course, under the City Code, he won't call it "confiscating" your vehicle. It's called impounding it.

Let me hasten to say that this remarks are not aimed at officers of the Woodstock Police Department. They didn't make the law. Seven people at City Hall made the law. Of course, they got a little help from the City Manager and the City Attorney, Rich Flood of Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle, Crystal Lake, Ill. More than a little, from the looks of Ordinance 12-O-02.

Sprinkled throughout the early sections of the ordinance is the word "may", as in "The administrative fee may be imposed and a motor vehicle may be impounded upon probably cause that any of the following violations have occurred: ...", followed by a list of dastardly acts that will get walking, not driving.

And then this one shows up in Paragraph D: "The vehicle shall be released to the owner of record, lessee or a lienholder of record upon payment of all administrative fees and towing and storage fees."

After you cough up $500 (and court costs, if you wait until an Administrative Hearing (held once a month in Woodstock)) PLUS the towing fee PLUS daily storage cost, then you get your car back - regardless of the outcome of the underlying charge for which the cop stopped you.

Again, the cops did not make this law. The Mayor and six members of the City Council made this law. If you don't know the names of the Mayor and the City Council, go to www.woodstockil.gov and click on "City Council". You'll see their names, mailing addresses and phone numbers, and email addresses.

Ask them why they passed this law! Ask them why they don't think it's unfair (maybe even unconstitutional) to confiscate a person's vehicle and hold it for ransom. Ask them what is going to happen if the person is found Not Guilty of the underlying charge. Ask them how they arrived at $500, which conveniently just happens to be the maximum allowed under State law.

Ask them who came up with this stupid idea. Just because other towns have it, ask them why Woodstock has it. Did a staff member initiate this law? Did the Mayor? Did one member of the City Council initiate it? Did the City Attorney suggest it? Where did this law come from???

My guess is that most, if not all, of the Woodstock cops will think this is a bad law. Unfortunately, they won't have a choice, if they stop you. The City Council passes it. Now the City Manager must get it enforced, so he'll tell the Police Chief to enforce it. The Police Chief will tell the sergeants to train the officers and order them to enforce it. And the officer on the street (who is standing in the gutter when all the (manure) runs downhill) can enforce it or be disciplined for not doing so.

Anybody else getting hot about this?

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