The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

You Can't Drive If You Don't Have A Car

By Jocelyn Geboy in News on Jun 14, 2007 10:18PM

The City of Chicago has no compunction about separating motorists from their cars. Chicagoist had their car towed once because they parked in the financial district on Veteran's Day; the streets were empty, there were no cars driving or parked anywhere. That part of the Loop was a ghost town. We were shocked when we came back to find our car gone. When we called to find out what had happened and recited the sign to the person on the other end of the 311 line, quoting the phrase "Sundays and holidays," we were told it wasn't a "traffic holiday." Oh. All Federal and City insitutions are shut down, but it's not a traffic holiday? Great.

You will also get your car removed from your possession if you commit the following crimes: drunken driving, waste dumping and prostitution to loud radio playing, drag racing and drug and curfew violations. (Waste dumping?) However, strangely enough, if you get caught driving on a suspended or revoked license, you get a ticket. At least according to this article. (We have a Latino friend who was actually cuffed and taken to jail for that, though. He didn't know his license was suspended due to unpaid parking tickets.)

2007_06tow.jpgAld. Tom Allen (38th), chairman of the City Council's Transportation Committee, is proposing that people who get caught driving on a suspended or revoked license get their cars thrown in car jail, too. They'd get charged $150 for towing, $10 a day for storage for the first five days and $35 a day thereafter. An attorney and former public defender, he's seen too many people go to court for having their license suspended for everything from driving under the influence, having no insurance to piling up too many parking tickets, and then driving away from court that very day.

We don't have a problem with people being fairly punished for their crime. But it seems like someone who is driving on a revoked license for drunk driving is in a different category than someone who has a bunch of unpaid parking tickets. Maybe not. Also, there's that whole $35 a day thereafter ... how does one get one's car out of the pound if you can't drive it out? From personal experience, Chicagoist knows that they make the driver of the car bring their own registration and pay themselves. How are these people supposed to get their cars out? Or are they supposed to add more fines to their bills? Or like happened to us once, get their cars cubed?

Although this idea supposedly came from the Sun-Times "Why Are They Still Driving?" series, they also did a series on the towing process and how it can be very unfair to drivers. We're behind the idea, but as always, we want to make sure it's fairly applied and that it makes sense to punish people commensurate with their crime.

"Just In Time" by TheeErin