Police propose $250 criminal user fee

Offenders whose cars are impounded would have to pay
by Martha Quetsch
People arrested in Elburn for some crimes and whose vehicles are impounded might have to pay a criminal user fee in the future.

Police Chief Jim Linane proposed Monday that the village charge $250 to anyone whose vehicle is impounded after the person is cited for driving under the influence or with a suspended license or one expired for more than a year, and to anyone arrested for having illegal drugs or firearms in a vehicle.

Linane told village trustees at the Committee of the Whole meeting that the fee likely would not be a deterrent to these crimes. However, it would help the village cover the cost of having to take officers off the street for offender processing and court appearances.

Such offenders already have to pay a towing fee, which typically is about $135. The criminal user fee would be in addition to that charge.

Some towns charge a criminal user fee of as much as $500, even when a person whose vehicle is impounded was cited for lesser offenses, such as having tinted windows or playing a car stereo too loud.

“I think $250 is reasonable,” Linane said.

The criminal user fee would have to be paid before police release the vehicle from the impound lot. Offenders could contest the fee by requesting, within 10 days, a police administrative hearing at Village Hall. If the village administrator decides not to waive the fee, the offender would have 45 days to settle the debt with the village so that the vehicle can be released, Sgt. Ron Brandenberg of the Elburn Police Department said.

The offender’s other recourse would be to appeal the fee in the Kane County Circuit Court.
If someone loans a vehicle to a person who is arrested and the car is impounded, the owner would not get the car back until the criminal user fee is paid by someone.

Village trustees will decide if Elburn will impose the fee when they vote at a future Village Board meeting on a criminal user fee ordinance Linane drafted.

Trustee Bill Grabarek said he does not object to the village charging the fee to cover the Police Department’s related administrative costs. However, he is bothered by the appeal process.

“My concern is when due process is carried out within the same body that did the search and seizure,” Grabarek said.

Linane said he and Brandenburg researched the proposal thoroughly and he is not worried that the ordinance would violate an offender’s due process.

“I think we are on pretty solid ground,” Linane said.

The criminal user fee would not apply if a driver is arrested and has a passenger who can drive the vehicle legally from the scene.

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