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Banner month for Woodstock Impound law

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Banner month for Woodstock Impound law

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
June 18, 2013


March 2013 was a banner month for the Woodstock Vehicle Impoundment law. How so?

The police department reported to the City Manager (and the City Council) that it collected $16,000 in Impound Fees. That's 32 vehicles impounded.

I thought it was the record month, but it only tied March 2012. Originally, Chief Robert Lowen told the City, in his pitch for such a law, that he thought his Department would impound approximately 50 cars per year. If they impound 32 in one month, that's 64% of the year's estimate - in just one month.

I wonder if anyone in the City is analyzing these impoundments. Is anyone determining what violations are generating the tows? Is anyone following up to determine how much the tows are costing drivers? There are towing fee and daily charges. How much? And which officers are impounding the most vehicles? And what violations and drivers are being cited but not generating tows?

How many drivers are forfeiting their vehicles, because they cannot afford to pay the impound fees, towing charges and storage fees, plus the fines for the tickets? Is the Woodstock City Council proud yet?

How many drivers are forced to pay these fees and charges, even when their tickets are dismissed in court or plea-bargained down from impoundable offenses? The way Woodstock's law is written, even if your charge is dismissed, you can't get a refund of your $500 impound fee. You have to have a trial and be found Not Guilty.

That's what the City of Woodstock wanted, or it's what the municipal law firm recommended. And that is wrong!!! Apparently I'm the only one who thinks so.

It seems to me that the City shouldn't be just licking the gravy off the plate, but that it should have to do the dishes, too. In other words, the City of Woodstock (and all municipalities with impound laws) should be analyzing the impact on drivers and reporting its findings.

Are these impound laws really a deterrent against the violations that result in towing? I seriously doubt it.

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