When a driver is arrested for DUI, their vehicle–for obvious safety reasons–must be moved from the roadside where the traffic stop took place. Illinois police have four options for dealing with a DUI-involved vehicle, ranging from releasing the vehicle immediately to seizing it and selling it.
Best Case Scenario: Sober Passenger Drives
If the drunk driver had a sober passenger in the vehicle, the police may allow that person to drive the car, saving the driver from towing and administrative fees.
Police Call Local Towing Company; Immediate Retrieval Possible
Most commonly, the police will have the vehicle towed to a local impound lot. The owner of the car will have to pay towing and storage fees to the towing company, and possibly an additional administrative fee to the city or county where the DUI arrest took place. In Chicago, the administrative fee to release a DUI-involved car from impound starts at $2,000. In the Will County suburbs, the administrative fee for a DUI impoundment ranges from $300 to $500.
Police Impound and Hold Vehicle for a Short Period of Time
If the police believe that an arrested driver is still not sober when released from custody, a “hold” can be put on the impounded vehicle for up to twelve hours from the time of the DUI arrest. This law ( 625 ILCS 5/4-203 ) exists to prevent a drunk driver from repeating the DUI offense immediately upon getting their car back.
The police can put a longer hold on the vehicle of a repeat DUI offender for at least 24 hours following a person’s second DUI offense and at least 48 hours after a third offense.
Get Your DUI Impounded Vehicle Back as Quickly as Possible
If a vehicle is on a short-term hold, the arrested driver can get their vehicle out of impound just by paying the necessary fees at the end of the hold period. In fact, it is usually possible to get the vehicle released before the end of the hold period, if a sober driver is available and the vehicle owner authorizes it. Towing company storage fees rack up quickly, so it is always wise to get a car out of impound as soon as possible.
Illinois law ( 625 ILCS 5/11-208.7 ) requires that law enforcement notify the vehicle’s owner of the impoundment and of the owner’s right to request an administrative hearing to contest the impoundment and associated fees.
Worst Case Scenario: Police Seize Vehicle and Start Civil Forfeiture
Police in Illinois may seize a vehicle used in the commision of a DUI if the driver is uninsured, lacks a valid driver’s license, has a suspended or revoked license for DUI or reckless homicide, has a previous conviction for reckless homicide or aggravated DUI with death or great bodily harm, or has two or more previous DUI offenses.
This is commonly known as Article 36 seizure or civil forfeiture; it is essentially the same process used to confiscate assets from drug dealers. Following a vehicle seizure due to DUI, the owner can contest the seizure at an administrative hearing. A seized vehicle will typically be sold at auction, with most of the proceeds going to the local law enforcement agency. You might think DUI-related vehicle confiscation is rare, but it is not. Naperville and DuPage County, just to name two examples, have been seizing upwards of 100 vehicles per year from repeat DUI offenders.
Trust an Experienced Joliet DUI Defense Attorney
When someone is arrested for DUI, even if they tested “over the legal limit,” it may still be possible to avoid a DUI conviction. To understand your options, consult with the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba as soon as possible. In addition to defending against the criminal DUI charge, you may also need to contest a driver’s license suspension/revocation and the seizure/forfeiture of your vehicle. Call a knowledgeable Will County DUI lawyer at 815-740-4025 for a free and confidential consultation; phone calls are answered 24 hours a day.