Currently, the answer to that question is no, but lawmakers in the Illinois Legislature may vote soon on a bill that allows police officers to tow and impound vehicles for driving without proof of insurance. The bill would amend 625 ILCS 5/4-203, authorizing law enforcement to tow and impound vehicles abandoned on highways. Through this statute and other provisions of the vehicle code, police officers are authorized to tow and impound vehicles that are used in the commission of certain offenses.
One such offense is DUI, which allows for towing and impoundment after arrest for DUI, referred to as a “DUI Hold.” It is the owner of the vehicle that is liable for the fines and fees associated with the towing and impoundment, having no defense that they were not the one who actually received the DUI. See Jackson v. City of Chicago.
Another offense you can currently get towed for is driving while license suspended or revoked. The proposed legislation would add an additional offense, driving without insurance to the list, which allows for towing and impoundment.
Through a law called Home Rule, municipalities can enact vehicle code ordinances that are Class A misdemeanors. Many villages and cities do so in order to collect the revenue from the offense. This new towing law would be the first of its kind in the state. Usually the police are required to ticket the driver for another offense like DUI or DWLS. This provision would apply statewide and supersede any local rule.
New Illinois Towing Law
Every driver in Illinois has to have a liability insurance policy according to 625 ILCS 5/7-601, with minimum coverage of $20,000 per person per accident. Operating a motor vehicle without proof of insurance is a business offense punishable by a minimum $500 fine on the first conviction and $1,000 fine on the second. But if the driver is in an accident causing bodily harm to another, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor with a potential penalty of up to one year in jail.
A conviction for driving without insurance results in a minimum 3-month suspension of driving privileges by the Secretary of State under 625 ILCS 5/3-707(c-1). It is unclear whether anyone driving without proof of insurance can be towed and impounded or whether this penalty is reserved for driver’s who have had a prior conviction for no insurance in the last year.
Getting pulled over is nerve racking enough; having your vehicle towed and impounded can be an insurmountable obstacle with all the fees and inconveniences associated. For more information, contact a qualified Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney today.