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New vehicle-impound rule a moneymaker, Dart says

Monday, August 06, 2007
Chicago Tribune
by Emma Graves Fitzsimmons

A new Cook County ordinance that allows police to impound the vehicles of those charged with drunken driving and prostitution has collected more revenue than expected, officials said over the weekend.

County officials expect to take in more than $1 million by the end of the year from towing the vehicles of people arrested on certain charges. A person must pay a $500 fine before retrieving the vehicle from a tow yard.

The administrative impound fee has produced $700,000 in its first five months, officials said. Those figures far surpass projections.
Under the ordinance, police are allowed to tow the vehicles of people charged with DUI, prostitution and driver's-license offenses, such as driving with a revoked license. The Cook County sheriff's office has aggressively enforced the policy during prostitution stings and roadside safety checks, officials said.

The crimes "come with an even higher price now," Sheriff Tom Dart said in a statement. "And as an added benefit, the ordinance will bring more than $1 million in much needed new revenue to the county treasury."

Dart proposed the ordinance last winter during the county budget battle as a way to generate more revenue. It took effect in March.

Dart also has suggested that the county install cameras in some parts of unincorporated Cook County to fine drivers who run red lights.



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