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Vehicle Impoundment breakdown - Woodstock

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Vehicle Impoundment breakdown - Woodstock

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
June 12, 2012

What is Woodstock's vehicle impoundment law costing area drivers?

I thought $10,000 in fines in April was a lot, until I looked at the records for March and February. I knew the total was $28,500, since the Woodstock City Council quietly passed a new ordinance in January, unanimously and without discussion.

How could it be that not even one member of the City Council felt this ordinance was worthy of public discussion? The burden was on each to understand it, so the assumption is that each read it before the Council meeting and understood it. Were there any "backroom" discussions before the January 17 vote on the Consent Agenda?

The ordinance was approved on January 17.

Presumably, officers had to be trained on how to snatch a violator's vehicle.

In February, $2,500 in fines was collected (5 vehicles at $500)
In March, $16,000 in fines was collected (32 vehicles at $500)
In April, $10,000 in fines was collected (20 vehicles at $500)

In his letter dated January 3, Woodstock Police Chief Robert Lowen estimated that 50 vehicles a year would be impounded.

In the first two full months (and a few days in February) 57 vehicles were impounded. In only one-sixth of a year, Woodstock PD officers have already exceeded the Chief's estimate for the full year! If the current rate continues, Woodstock officers will impound 312 vehicles in a year, which is far, fair above the Chief's estimate of 50.

If Woodstock police officers do impound 312 vehicles, they will be responsible for $156,000 in fines (not just the paltry $25,000 estimated by Chief Lowen).

Court costs are not assessed on vehicle impoundment citations. A different jurisdiction told me there is a statute prohibiting court costs in these cases. In Woodstock one defendant has been successful in arguing against his citation, and his $500 was returned.

What can you do? If you believe that this ordinance should be repealed. contact your Woodstock City Council member. AND email gus@woodstockadvocate.com. No information about your identity will be released by me to anyone.

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