Illinois City Postpones Towing Legislation Pending Federal Lawsuit

Dec 1st, 2010 | By | Category: Illinois, National News, State By State News

The City of Waukegan, Illinois, has called off further action on a towing ordinance Monday, Nov. 29, when word spread over the progress of a federal lawsuit challenging the policy, according to a news report.

A review of possible amendments written by corporation counsel Newton Finn for aldermen to consider was originally scheduled for Monday’s meeting. However Finn advised the Judiciary Committee to hold off pending possible resolution of the U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow’s 2006 ruling that found the ordinance unconstitutional, the report states.

The towing ordinance empowers the police of Waukegan to issue a $500 citation and seize a vehicle involved in such violations as driving under the influence of alcohol or driving without a valid license or insurance.

A local resident filed suit in 2003 claiming that police violated her 4th and 14th amendment rights when her car was towed for a violation that occurred when her son was driving it, according to the report. In November 2006, Lefkow ruled that the ordinance was unconstitutional, though she allowed the city to continue enforcement while the appeal played out.

On Monday, backers of a second lawsuit that was filed over the city’s actions during a 2002 protest of policy announced that the Seventh District U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago has scheduled oral arguments for Jan. 7, the report states. A resident filed suit against the city claiming that his 1st Amendment rights were violated when he was not allowed to speak at a city council meeting. A 2008 decision went against the city, which then filed an appeal.

Should the policy survive, 6th Ward Ald. Larry TenPas said he would still like to see it amended in some way, according to the report. First Ward Ald. Sam Cunningham said that following Monday’s meeting one amendment being considered would lower the penalty for a first-time offender to $100 and leave all other cases at $500.

Finn said a formal announcement on the city’s appeal of the decision could be made within a week.