Is Elgin stealing money?
April 18, 2011
Today's Daily Herald carries an article about Elgin's "administrative" charge when a cop stops a driver for certain violations. The cop is allowed to have a vehicle towed, even when a licensed driver is available, and to issue a $500 ticket to the driver.
See if your blood boils when you read the article at www.dailyherald.com/article/20110417/news/704179935/
An Elgin cop stopped a driver who rolled up to a stop sign, made a complete stop, then signalled and turned. He hadn't signaled within 100' of the intersection. (Hey, I can relate to that one...)
Yes, it's a reason to stop someone. It's a reason to check driver's license, registration and insurance. In the case in the article, the driver was operating on a suspended license. Good stop; right?
But then the cop wouldn't let the driver's girlfriend drive the car. He had it towed, resulting in a $175 tow bill AND a $500 administrative ticket. And right there is where the City of Elgin is stealing money from drivers.
Yes, Elgin has figured out how to do it legally. Maybe. Constitutionally? It probably hasn't been tested.
I have my own opinion about whether failing to signal within 100' is worth ticket that will cost a couple of hundred dollars. If it causes a crash, fine. In McHenry County now, the minimum court costs are, I think, $125. Toss in $75 for the ticket, and you're at the $200 mark.
Now, should a citizen make a scene when the driver of a police car does not signal a turn within 100' of a stop sign? Or when the police officer/driver doesn't come to a complete stop before crossing the stop bar? Or rolls through the red light on Lake Avenue to turn right on Route 47? Or drives across the centerline of the roadway while reading the in-car computer?
What civil rights' violation exists if there is a standing order at the police department that, if a certain driver gets stopped, he gets a ticket - no warning. Officers have discretion, don't they? Will they begin to just overlook violations that maybe they ought to stop someone for, because they aren't willing to force the driver to part with $200 for a ticket?
Or, worse, they know the driver is a cop and they are not about to write a $200 ticket to a buddy...
About a year ago the City of Woodstock told me there is no similar law in Woodstock. If one ever starts to gain traction around here, every driver in the City had better show up at the City Council meeting and give the members of the City Council an earful.
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