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Each year, the City of Chicago tows approximately 100,000 vehicles for a variety of reasons. The City tows illegally parked vehicles, abandoned vehicles and vehicles used for illegal activity.  When the City discovers a vehicle in violation of the Municipal Code it will be towed to one of the cities  impound lots.  The registered owner of the vehicle is responsible for paying the associated fines and costs of the impoundment, regardless of whether or not they were driving the vehicle at the time of the violation.

If your vehicle has been towed by the City of Chicago you can dial 3-1-1 to determine its location as well as the address of the appropriate pound.  ***NOTE: IF AN ORANGE IMPOUND STICKER HAS BEEN PLACED ON YOUR VEHICLE DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MOVE IT OR YOU MAY BE SUBJECT TO AN ADDITIONAL $2,000 REMOVAL/RELOCATION FINE***

Once a vehicle is impounded the registered owner of the vehicle must reclaim the vehicle.  Before the City will release a car from the impound lot, all fines and associated towing and storage fees must be paid in full.  For more information on the fine amounts and costs for towing and storage please see “The Fines” section below.


If you do not reclaim your car immediately, you will be charged additional storage fees for each day that your car remains in the pound.  Storage fees accumulate at the rate of $20 per day for the first 5 days and $35 per day thereafter.

Owners have the right to a hearing to contest the impoundment of their vehicles and the associated fines, towing, and storage fees.  IF YOU HAVE ALREADY PAID TO GET YOUR CAR OUT OF THE POUND YOU MAY BE ENTITLED TO A REFUND.  However, owners must act quickly as the law affords only a limited time period to contest the impoundment.  To learn more about the hearing process see “The Hearings” section below.  The facts of your case, the value of the vehicle, the circumstances of the impound, and timing of your action will very greatly basIf you would like specific advice about dealing with your impoundment contact us to speak with an experienced impoundment defense attorney.


The Fines

The City of Chicago may impound a vehicle for a number of different violations, each of which has a different fine amount.  Some of the more common police impounded violations are listed below as an example.  For more information on your specific fine amount contact the City of Chicago at 3-1-1 or contact our firm.  Vehicles may be impounded for more than one violation, each of which will carry a separate fine.  In order for the owner of a vehicle to avoid responsibility for the fine, they must win a hearing.  The City of Chicago does not waive the fine if you decide not to retrieve your car.  If you do not either win a hearing, or pay to release your car, the City of Chicago will take title to it after your right to a hearing (or appeal) expires.  If you do not pay to release the car, or win an impoundment hearing, and the City takes title, YOU ARE STILL RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FINE AMOUNT. The fine amount is NOT offset by the amount the vehicle is worth, even if it is sold by the City.

The owner of the impounded vehicle is responsible for the fines, regardless of their involvement with, or knowledge of, the particular violations.  Additionally, owners are typically responsible for a $150 towing fee and at least one day of storage.  Storage fees accumulate at the rate of $20 per day for the first 5 days and $35 per day thereafter.  Storage fees will accumulate until the car is retrieved from the City.

As of January 1, 2012 the following fines have been enacted as administrative penalties by the Chicago City Council:

  • Vehicles operated by someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol - $2,000
    - within 500ft of a school or park - $3,000
  • Vehicles found to contain illegal drugs - $2,000     
    - within 500ft of a school or park - $3,000
  • Vehicles found to contain an unregistered or assembled firearm - $2,000     
    - within 500ft of a school or park - $3,000
  • Vehicles with a false City Sticker - $1,000
  • Vehicles used to flee and elude police - $2,000
  • Vehicles used for fly dumping - $500 to $2,000
  • Vehicles operated by someone with a suspended or revoked license - $1,000
  • Vehicles found to contain illegal fireworks - $1,000
  • Vehicles used to contain etching (graffiti) materials - $1,000
  • Vehicles used in the solicitation of prostitution - $2,000     
    - within 500ft of a school or park $3,000
  • Vehicles emitting sound that can be heard more than 75 ft - $500 to $750

Remember that fines are assessed against the owner of the vehicle, regardless if they were driving the car at the time.  Don’t get stuck paying for a friend or family members mistake.  Call the Limbaugh Law Firm today and fight to free your Ford without the fines!

The Hearings

There are essentially three types of vehicle impoundment hearings; preliminary hearings, full impoundment hearings, and refund hearings.  All hearings take place at the City’s Central Hearing Facility located at 400 W. Superior.

Owners of towed and impounded vehicles are entitled to a preliminary hearing within 48 hours of the vehicles impoundment.  At the preliminary hearing the City is required to produce evidence showing why the vehicle was impounded.  If the Administrative Law Judge determines that the City has cited a valid reason for impounding the vehicle then the matter will be scheduled for a full hearing.

Full impoundment hearings are scheduled 3-4 weeks after the preliminary hearing or initial hearing request is made.  During a full hearing the City is required to prove that the violation for which your car was impounded occurred.  The hearings often consist of the live testimony of the police officer that ordered the impound, and other documents supporting the cities position.

If the judge at a full hearing determines that the City has provided enough evidence to move forward with the hearing, then you will be required to disprove the violation by presenting additional or conflicting evidence.  If after both sides have presented their cases, the judge determines that the violation did not occur, then your vehicle will be released and you will not be responsible for the fines, towing or storage costs.

Refund hearings are conducted in exactly the same manner as the full hearings except that the owner has already paid the fines and retrieved their vehicle from the City.  If at the conclusion of the refund hearing, the judge determines that the City has failed to prove  a violation existed the owner will be refunded the amount paid to retrieve the car.  If however, a violation is proven, the owner will not face any additional costs.  

Contact the Limbaugh Law Firm today if you have questions about your case or to file for a refund or impoundment hearing.  We will work hard to represent your interests.