Elgin uses towing as deterrent and ‘cash cow’
By Tara Garcia Mathewson
On March 14, 18-year-old David Liberato was driving in Elgin with a suspended license. He came to a complete stop at an intersection, then signaled to turn left. Once he made the turn, an Elgin police officer pulled him over for failing to signal 100 feet before the intersection.
Though Liberato’s girlfriend was in the car and had a valid license, his car was subject to a mandatory tow. He paid $175 to the towing company and $500 to the City of Elgin — a boost to the city’s general fund.
The city’s fee is for an “administrative tow,” and is required for drivers pulled over for any of four offenses: driving without a license, driving with a suspended or revoked license, driving under the influence or operating a vehicle with the sound system loud enough to be heard at least 75 feet away.
Before October 2009, the noise violation was the only one that called for an administrative tow (which only cost $250 then) — and that came after a citizen satisfaction survey that listed loud stereos as the number one complaint, according to Mayor Ed Schock.
The city council expanded the program and raised the fee, partly to be in line with surrounding communities like Hanover Park, the city’s model for the program.
Elgin has since received more than $1.5 million in administrative towing fees.
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