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1/1/2007
Illinois: Police Seize Car of Roadblock Protester
Elgin, Illinois Police confiscate car at a DUI roadblock because after the driver protested against the inconvenience.

DUI roadblock
Elgin, Illinois police confiscated the car belonging to a sober man who protested on Thursday against officers for wasting his time at a holiday drunk driving roadblock. Innocent motorists on that day and throughout the weekend were pulled over and subjected to search and interrogations at the Pace bus station on Highland Avenue. Police issued expensive tickets to anyone whose papers were not in order.

One motorist became so angry at being detained because he chose not to wear a seatbelt that he honked his horn and blasted his stereo in protest. For that, police confiscated his car, issued a $250 ticket and forced the motorist to walk home.

Elgin Police cited the city's noise ordinance which applies to those who are "operating" a vehicle -- the motorist was parked -- and is designed to protect citizens against, "excessive noise endangers physical and emotional health and well-being."

The affected motorist can only challenge the seizure by first arguing his case before the deputy police chief in a hearing where, "the formal rules of evidence will not apply." The next hearing happens up to 45 days later under civil procedures that are used so that Elgin can escape the due process protections of the Constitution such as the Eight Amendment prohibition on excessive fines.

Article Excerpt:
WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Elgin finds that excessive noise endangers physical and emotional health and well-being, interferes with legitimate business and recreation activities, increases construction costs, depresses property values, offends the senses, creates public nuisances and in other respects reduces the quality of the environment; and....

11.40.095: SOUND AMPLIFICATION DEVICES:

A. No driver or owner of any motor vehicle within the city shall operate or permit operation of any sound amplification system which can be heard outside the vehicle from seventy five (75) or more feet when the vehicle is being operated upon a street, highway or roadway unless such system is being operated to request assistance or warn of a hazardous situation. This section does not apply to authorized emergency vehicles.

B. Any person convicted of violating the provisions of this section shall be fined two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00).

C. A motor vehicle that is used in the violation of subsection A of this section shall be subject to seizure and impoundment under this section. The owner of record of such vehicle shall be liable to the city for a penalty of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) in addition to fees for the towing and storage of the vehicle.

1. Whenever a police officer has probable cause to believe that a vehicle is subject to seizure and impoundment pursuant to this section, the police officer shall provide for the towing of the vehicle to a facility controlled by the city or its agents. When the vehicle is towed, the police officer shall notify the person who is found to be in control of the vehicle at the time of the alleged violations, if there is such a person, of the fact of the seizure and of the vehicle owner's right to request a preliminary hearing to be conducted under this section.

2. Whenever the owner of a vehicle seized pursuant to this section requests a preliminary hearing within twelve (12) hours after the seizure, a deputy police chief of the city or his designee shall conduct such preliminary hearing within twenty four (24) hours after the seizure, excluding Sundays and holidays. All interested persons shall be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard at the preliminary hearing. The formal rules of evidence will not apply at the hearing. If, after the hearing, the deputy police chief or his designee determines that there is probable cause to believe that the vehicle was used in the violation of subsection A of this section he shall order the continued impoundment of the vehicle as provided in this section unless the owner of the vehicle posts with the city a cash bond in the amount of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) plus fees for towing and storing the vehicle. If the deputy police chief or his designee determines that there is no such probable cause, the vehicle will be returned without penalty or other fees.

3. Within ten (10) days after a vehicle is seized and impounded pursuant to this section, the city shall notify by personal service or by certified mail, return receipt requested, the owner of record of the date, time and location of a hearing that will be conducted pursuant to this section. The hearing shall be scheduled and held, unless continued by order of the court or hearing officer, not less than fifteen (15) days and not more than forty five (45) days after the vehicle was seized. All interested persons shall be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard at the hearing. If after a hearing, it is determined by a preponderance of evidence that the vehicle was used in the commission of any of the violations described in subsection A of this section the vehicle shall continue to be impounded until the owner pays a penalty of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) plus fees for towing and storage of the vehicle. The penalty and fees shall be a debt due and owing the city. However, if a cash bond has been posted the bond shall be applied to the penalty. If it is determined at a hearing that the vehicle was not used in such a violation, the vehicle or cash bond shall be returned without penalty or other fees. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, whenever a person with a lien of record against a vehicle impounded under this section has commenced foreclosure proceedings, possession of the vehicle shall be given to that person if he agrees in writing to refund to the city the net proceeds of any foreclosure sale, less any amount necessary to pay all lien holders of record, up to the total amount of penalties imposed under this subsection C.

4. Any motor vehicle that is not reclaimed within thirty (30) days after the expiration of the time during which the owner of record may seek judicial review of the city's action under this section, or the time at which a final judgment is rendered in favor of the city, or the time a final administrative decision is rendered against an owner of record who is in default, may be disposed of as an unclaimed vehicle as provided by law. (Ord. G2-05 § 1, 2005; Ord. G57-01 § 1, 2001)
Source: No holiday for traffic safety (Elgin Courier News (IL), 12/31/2006)



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