11/23/2012Illinois Supreme Court Considers HOA Speeding Tickets
High court in Illinois hears oral arguments in dispute over whether homeowners associations may issue speeding tickets.
An Illinois motorist is fighting back against his homeowners association (HOA) for pulling over motorists and issuing speeding tickets. Kenneth E. Poris made his case before the state's highest court on Tuesday. Poris owns one of the 2000 single-family homes that comprise the Lake Holiday Property Owners Association where a blanket 25 MPH speed limit is in effect. On October 20, 2008, Poris accused of driving his truck at 34 MPH on Farmer's Road.
"The traffic citation against me is still pending, and I categorically deny I was speeding," Poris told the high court justices.
The HOA imposes speeding tickets that can cost between $50 and $200. Failure to stop for the HOA private security force also incurs a $200 fine for "obstructing an officer." The fines can be imposed on homeowners, even if they did were not responsible for the alleged violation.
"If I owned a home at Lake Holiday and someone was coming to visit me, they are there at my behest," HOA lawyer Bruce W. Lyon argued before the supreme court. "If they were stopped and they were speeding by the Lake Holiday security force, the ultimate responsibility for that citation would fall upon the owner, because the owner is the one contracted with Lake Holiday and agreed to follow their rules and regulations."
Roads within the community are often used by non-residents who cannot be fined directly. The HOA cops lack actual police powers and can only ask non-residents to leave the property.
"That person has no contractual relation with Lake Holiday, and therefore Lake Holiday wouldn't have the right to collect from them," Lyon said. "They would ultimately have the right to collect from the owner and the owner could then ask their friend for the fee."
Poris argues he was falsely imprisoned by James Podnar, the HOA's private security officer, who was using a police radar device that requires FCC certification. Neither Podnar nor the HOA had the appropriate FCC license. Poris had stopped four years ago because he was afraid he would be fined $200 for "obstruction" if he did not. He believed he was illegally detained.
"He took my driver's license," Poris said. "If I get a speeding ticket from a police officer, I can drive on that ticket. I cannot drive on a citation from Lake Holiday, and they had my license."
The HOA argued it had the right to issue reasonable rules and that Poris agreed to abide by them when he moved into the community. Poris denied the HOA had the right to pull over motorists.
"The mechanism they've created is not allowed by Illinois statutes," Poris said. "It's an illegal, self-granted power... For me to agree to allow them to commit crimes in the enforcement of their rules... I cannot agree to an illegal contract. I did not agree to this."
In January, the Illinois Court of Appeals sided with Poris, finding he had been illegally detained. The judges also found the HOA violated the law by allowing its security officers to use flashing yellow lights on their vehicles.
"The security officers employed by the association are attempting to assert police powers," the three-judge panel ruled. "They have neither the right nor the power to do so. They have only those powers that ordinary citizens have. The practice of stopping and detaining drivers for association rule violations is unlawful."
Because the HOA appealed the Court of Appeals ruling, the Illinois Supreme Court will have the final say.