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December 19, 2014, 12:10 pm
970 WMAY News

City Sued for Administrative Tow Fee

Image of scan for Qualifying Offenses provided by Springfield Police
Qualifying Offenses: Click image to see full size

A class-action lawsuit in Sangamon County Circuit Court against the City of Springfield has a potential price tag of over one-million dollars.


The suit says an ordinance passed in October of 2010 is “unreasonable, arbitrary, capricious and unconstitutional.” It also says the ordinance, which passed in October 2010 violates both the federal and state constitution, unlawfully goes against provisions of the Illinois Vehicle Code, and does not provide for proper due process.


Springfield's impoundment ordinance states the vehicle driven by anyone stopped and arrested by Springfield police is impoundable and the owner of the impounded vehicle is subject to a $500 fee along with any additional tow and storage fees. 


Since the passage of Springfield’s impoundment ordinance, just over 2,100 vehicles have been impounded by the Springfield Police Department for varying vehicle, criminal, drug and city code violations.


Deputy Police Chief Cliff Buscher says 2,116 vehicles were towed and assessed the administrative two fee since September 2010.


Treasure Jim Langfelder says that just around 2,000 vehicle owners have paid the $500 fee to the city for a total of just over $1 million dollars to the city's coffers.


The ordinance in question was passed October of 2010 and requires owners of impounded vehicles are subject to tow charges and storage fees from one of a dozen different tow companies.  Impoundable offenses include criminal, vehicle and even city code violations like being stopped for a second offense of having music too loud.


Vehicle owners who had to pay $500 to the city of Springfield for their vehicle being involved in a criminal offense could get their money, back if the class action lawsuit against the city of Springfield is successful.


The lawsuit suit, filed last month in Sangamon County Circuit Court, says the ordinance violates the Illinois Vehicle Code, and both the Illinois and Federal Constitution for not providing proper due process.

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