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Chicago Orders City Impound Lots to be Filled with Seized Cars
With impound lots at 80 percent capacity already, Chicago, Illinois looks to earn an extra $25 million by seizing 25,000 cars a year.

Impound lot (photo by Nadav Savio)
Despite overcrowding in city impound lots, Chicago, Illinois is looking to expand the number of automobiles seized by 25,000 a year. A newly adopted ordinance will allow police to take vehicles driven by motorists with expired or suspended licenses. The plan is expected to bring in $25 million in revenue from a $1000 "administrative fee" levied on top of $310 in other fines and towing fees, plus $10-35 per day in storage fees.

Currently the city is holding 5800 seized automobiles on lots with capacity for 7200. The city will look over the next ninety days for ways to expand lots so it can take more cars.

Under existing city code, Chicago will seize automobiles for dozens of offenses. These include: Operating an ambulance without an ambulance license, parking a car with a "for-sale" sign on a roadway, parking in a tow-away zone, driving a "hazardous dilapidated motor vehicle," fleeing police, "repeatedly attempt[ing] to engage, passersby in conversation... for the purpose of soliciting for a prostitute" and driving with a false temporary registration tag.

A more controversial ordinance allows police to seize cars with stereos playing at a volume "clearly audible to a person with normal hearing at a distance greater than 75 feet." Another allows police to seize cars carrying a can of spray paint "with intent to use the same to deface any building, structure or property."

According to the seizure ordinances, police reports are "presumed correct" and it is up to the defendant to prove he is innocent of any charges or that he did not have the intent to commit the crime alleged.

Source: City to seize cars -- even if theres no room for them (Chicago Sun-Times, 7/15/2007)

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