Illinois: Cars with Loud Stereos to be Seized A new Rockford, Illinois ordinance allows police to seize any car based on the accusation that it played loud music.
This month the city of Rockford, Illinois will begin allowing residents to call the police and have any vehicle seized on the mere accusation that the car used a loud stereo system. Under an ordinance adopted August 20, police can impound any vehicle if police believe it is likely that it played loud music. Cars taken will be held until fines of $150 to $750 are paid -- in addition to a $75 towing fee, a $15 to $20 per day storage fee and a $60 per hour charge if the police officer has to wait more than an hour for the tow truck.
"No person shall operate... any device used to... reproduce any recorded sound if the device is located... in any motor vehicle on the public way and the sound can be heard from 75 feet or more from the device," Ordinance 2007-158-0 states in defining the new crime.
There is no requirement that a police officer responding to a complaint objectively measure sound levels with electronic equipment or even personally witness an alleged offense. Instead, the ordinance states that "hearsay evidence shall be admissible" and that property will be seized upon the assertion of probable cause.
If a motorist believes his car has been unlawfully towed on a Friday after 5pm, he may challenge the taking by "depositing a written request for a hearing in the silver drop box located behind city hall," according to the ordinance. The city must then respond by the following Wednesday. If the registered owner was not driving at the time the car was taken, he will be mailed a letter within ten days. After this time he is given less than fifteen days to request a hearing. The city may then wait another 45 days to schedule a hearing while storage fees accumulate up to $1100.
A hearing officer designated by Rockford will decide under a preponderance of evidence standard whether it is likely the motorist is guilty, in which case the hearing officer's employers will collect the fine and fee revenue from the motorist. If the vehicle's owner does not receive the mailed notice or cannot pay the fees within 30 days, the city will confiscate the vehicle permanently.