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Wonder Lake - its own $500 admin. tow fee

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Wonder Lake - its own $500 admin. tow fee

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
July 7, 2013

The Village of Wonder Lake has jumped on the band wagon and now has decided to stick it to certain drivers with its own $500 administrative tow fine. This is the one that, for certain traffic offenses, a municipality can confiscate your vehicle (they called it "impounding" it) and hold it for a royal ransom of $500.

That's not all, of course, because you have to pay for the towing ($125-150) and storage ($40).

These extortion-rate charges have resulted in drivers and owners forfeiting their vehicles in other communities (ex. Woodstock), because they cannot afford to get them out of hock. Think that's what the City Fathers had in mind when they settle on these laws?

Woodstock's ordinance reads that you can get your $500 back, if you are found Not Guilty after a trial? Big deal. Most cases are resolved without a trial. Charges get knocked down in plea bargains. Or some cases get dismissed because the police work was so shoddy that prosecution avoids embarrassment in court and drops the charges. Or a judge dismisses a case. But that's not a Not Guilty verdict after a trial.

I was visiting in the Woodstock Administrative Adjudication Court last year, when a defendant, whose case had been dropped in McHenry County Circuit Court, asked Judge Eterno to order a refund of his $500 fine. Judge Eterno wanted to give him his money back.

But the ordinance in Woodstock, as adopted with (I'm sure) the legal advice of Zukowski Rogers Flood & McArdle, reads that there must have been a trial and there must have been a Not Guilty verdict. So Judge Eterno's hands were tied. Even though the ticket for which the car had been impounded had been dropped, Woodstock refused to return the $500.

Is this same language in Wonder Lake's ordinance?

Will the voters in Wonder Lake rise up and demand that the Village Board rescind this unfair ordinance?

In fact, when will residents all over McHenry County rise up and say, "No more!"

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