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Lawmaker Wants City To Be Able To Boot Cars To Collect On Unpaid Debts

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A "Denver Boot" Wheel Lock (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

A “Denver Boot” Wheel Lock (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

John Cody John Cody
John Cody is a veteran reporter for Newsradio 780.
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CHICAGO (CBS) – An Illinois state senator wants to allow the city of Chicago to boot and sell cars belonging to people who owe the city money on a court judgment.

Currently, the city is allowed to boot a person’s vehicle when the owner has three or more unpaid parking tickets that have reached “final determination” status; or two or more unpaid red light or parking tickets that are more than a year old.

WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) has introduced legislation that would allow the city and other Illinois municipalities to also boot a person’s car if he or she loses a court case and owes the city money.

If the vehicle owner doesn’t pay their debt within 24 hours of their car being booted, the city would be allowed to impound the vehicle — even if the owner was not present for a boot hearing — and put it up for sale at a public auction within 21 days to pay off the debt.

DePaul University law professor Leonard Cavise said allowing the city to sell of someone’s car so quickly after booting it, whether or not the driver was at the boot hearing, seems like a violation of due process.

“This is another chance for the city to go out and hire some outside lawyers, and pay them a fortune, because they can’t comply with due process in the first place,” he said. “The city has the right to boot your car for traffic tickets, but they don’t have the right to boot your car for every conceivable other problem that you may have in your financial profile.”

Silverstein told Crain’s Chicago Business he introduced the bill for a lobbyist friend who represents a law firm with a large collections practice.

The proposed legislation has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.

Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale), who sits on the Judiciary Committee, promised very careful scrutiny of the proposal.

“It’s one thing to ticket people for red light cameras, but another thing to – within 24 hours – threaten to sell their vehicles,” he said. “The bill is over-the-top, and clearly comes from special interests.”

The city said it is reviewing the measure, and has not taken a stance on the proposal yet.

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