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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Court Upholds Ordinance Imposing Fees for Towing and Impoundment

In Leehy v. City of Carbondale, an Appellate Court upheld a City ordinance requiring the payment of administrative fees for costs related to the towing and impoundment of a vehicle involved in certain crimes. Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the City to challenge the fees, claiming they were unconstitutional and that the City was reimbursed twice for the same costs under the ordinance and the Illinois Criminal and Traffic Assessment Act (Act). The trial court found that the fees were reasonably related to the costs incurred by the City and were not duplicative of the statutory fines authorized by the Act which related to DUI enforcement related activities like police vehicles and breathalyzers and not intended to reimburse the City for incurred costs as the ordinance fees provided.

Plaintiffs appealed and the Appellate Court upheld the ruling in favor of the City. The Appellate Court held that the Act authorizes a punitive fine assessed to individuals convicted or who plead guilty to a misdemeanor DUI. In contrast, the City ordinance authorizes imposition of a fee designed to recoup incurred costs of the City and the purposes and intent of the Act and ordinance were not the same. The Appellate Court also found the City's ordinance to be constitutional as it was rationally related to a legitimate governmental interest and was not arbitrary nor discriminatory. The Court noted that the City's fee does not need to represent the exact costs incurred but must at least relate to those actual costs. The court pointed to the fact that Plaintiffs failed to prove there was no reasonable relation between the fee and cost of service as well as that Illinois courts have upheld fees over five times greater than the actual cost, referencing A&H Vending Service, Inc. v. Village of Schaumburg, 168 Ill. App. 3d 61 (1988).

Post Authored by Katie Nagy & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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