When Can The State Seize Your Car?

 Posted on September 08,2015 in DUI

tow truck, impound law, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneySweeping vehicle impound laws are popping up throughout the country, and Illinois is no exception. Since the fees accumulate daily, the total amount due quickly exceeds the car’s value, in many cases. If the police seized your vehicle as part of a criminal law matter, what are your rights?

Vehicle Impound Law

Chapter 625 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes is the primary vehicle impound law in criminal cases. Peace officer shave the right to seize a vehicle without a warrant in the following situations:

  • DUI: Arresting officers must reasonably believe that a subsequent violation is likely. After a 12-hour waiting period, owners may ask to regain possession if they were not driving the vehicle at the time, or if they temporarily assign the vehicle to another qualified driver.
  • Driving Without Insurance: Vehicles are subject to impound if the drivers had no insurance and no valid drivers’ licenses.
  • Evidentiary Impound: If the vehicle contains evidence of a crime, such as drugs or money, it may be impounded and searched thoroughly under controlled circumstances.

Additional provisions in Chapter 720 allow impounding for various drug offenses, sex crimes, and many other felonies.

Procedure and Defenses

The best practice is to request a preliminary hearing straightaway. It must take place within 15 days, although the length varies slightly, depending on the municipality. Limited defenses are available at this mini-trial. The judge will probably release the vehicle if it was stolen, the theft was reported prior to the incident, and the owner was not driving the car at the time.

At a subsequent appeal, there are a wide range of defenses. The owner can argue that the forfeiture is a hardship on innocent people – the other members of the household – because a lack transportation is a serious hindrance to almost any daily activity. An attorney might also file a writ to force the state to either proceed with a forfeiture action or release the vehicle.

But the best argument may be the impoundment’s constitutionality. The Eighth Amendment prohibits "excessive fines" in criminal cases. By the time of the appeal hearing, the impound fees are most certainly excessive, by almost any definition.

To fight a vehicle impound, or a related criminal matter, contact an experienced attorney in Arlington Heights today. Call Scott F. Anderson at 847-253-3400 for a free consultation.


Share this post: