2-14-132 Impoundment.
   (a)   (1)   Whenever the owner of a vehicle seized and impounded pursuant to Sections 3-46-076, 4-68-195, 4-227-140, 9-80-220, 9-112-640 or 9-114-420 of this Code (for purposes of this section, the "status-related offense sections"), or Sections 7-24-225, 7-24-226, 7-28-390, 7-28-440, 7-38-115(c-5), 8-8-060, 8-20-070, 9-12-090, 9-12-100, 9-12-110, 9-32-040, 9-76-160, 9-80-225, 9-80-240, 9-92-035, 11-4-1410, 11-4-1500 or 15-20-270 of this Code (for purposes of this section, the "use-related offense sections") requests a preliminary hearing in person and in writing at the department of administrative hearings, within 15 days after the vehicle is seized and impounded, an administrative law officer of the department of administrative hearings shall conduct such preliminary hearing within 48 hours of request, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays, unless the vehicle was seized and impounded pursuant to Section 7-24-225 and the department of police determines that it must retain custody of the vehicle under the applicable state or federal forfeiture law. If, after the hearing, the administrative law officer determines that there is probable cause to believe that the vehicle was used in a violation of this Code for which seizure and impoundment applies, or, if the impoundment is pursuant to Section 9-92-035, that the subject vehicle is eligible for impoundment under that section, the administrative law officer shall order the continued impoundment of the vehicle as provided in this section unless the owner of the vehicle pays to the city the amount of the administrative penalty prescribed for the code violation plus fees for towing and storing the vehicle.
      (2)   In addition to any amount due under subsection (a)(1), prior to the release of a vehicle, the owner of the vehicle shall also pay all amounts due for all outstanding final determinations for parking, standing, compliance, automated traffic law enforcement system or automated speed enforcement system violations incurred by the owner, including all related collection costs and attorney's fees authorized under Section 1-19-020.
      (3)   If the administrative law officer determines there is no such probable cause, or, if the impoundment is pursuant to Section 9-92-035, that the subject vehicle has previously been determined not to be eligible for impoundment under that section, the vehicle will be returned without penalty or other fees.
   (b)   (1)   (A)   Within ten days after a vehicle is seized and impounded the Department of Streets and Sanitation or other appropriate department shall notify by certified mail the owner of record (other than a lessee who does not hold title to the vehicle), the person who was found to be in control of the vehicle at the time of the alleged violation, and any lienholder of record, of the owner's right to request a hearing before the Department of Administrative Hearings to challenge whether a violation of this Code for which seizure and impoundment applies has occurred or, if the impoundment is pursuant to Section 9-92-035, whether the subject vehicle is eligible for impoundment under that section. In the case where an owner of record is a lessee who does not hold title to the vehicle, the notice shall be mailed to such lessee within ten days after the Department of Streets and Sanitation receives a copy or other satisfactory evidence of the vehicle lease or rental agreement, indicating the name, address, and driver's license number of the lessee pursuant to subsection (i). However, no such notice need be sent to the owner of record if the owner is personally served with the notice within ten days after the vehicle is seized and impounded, and the owner acknowledges receipt of the notice in writing. A copy of the notice shall be forwarded to the Department of Administrative Hearings. The notice shall state the penalties that may be imposed if no hearing is requested, including that a vehicle not released by payment of the penalty and fees and remaining in the City pound may be sold or disposed of by the City in accordance with applicable law.
         (B)   If, after the ten-day notice period provided in subparagraph (b)(1)(A) of this section, the City learns that the impounded vehicle was owned at the time of the impoundment by a person other than those persons who were identified during the ten-day notice period, then notice shall be sent to such owner or lienholder no later than 10 days after the date the City has learned the identity of such owner or lienholder. Except as provided in this subparagraph (b)(1)(B) of this section, such notice shall be consistent with, and shall be sent in the manner as provided in, subparagraph (b)(1)(A) of this section.
      (2)   The owner of record seeking a hearing must file a written request for a hearing with the Department of Administrative Hearings no later than 15 days after notice was mailed or otherwise given under this subsection. The hearing date must be no more than 30 days after a request for a hearing has been filed.
      (3)   (A)   If, after the hearing, the administrative law officer determines by a preponderance of the evidence that the vehicle was used in the violation, or, if the impoundment is pursuant to Section 9-92-035, that the subject vehicle was properly impounded under that section, the administrative law officer shall enter an order finding the owner of record liable to the City for the amount of the administrative penalty prescribed for the violation, plus towing and storage fees.
         (B)   If, after a hearing, the administrative law officer does not determine by a preponderance of the evidence that the vehicle was used in such a violation, or, if the impoundment is pursuant to Section 9-92-035, that the subject vehicle was not eligible for impoundment under that section, the administrative law officer shall enter an order finding for the owner and for the return of the vehicle or previously paid penalty and fees; provided that if the vehicle was seized and impounded pursuant to Section 7-24-225, the vehicle shall not be returned unless and until the City receives notice from the appropriate state, or where applicable, federal officials that (i) forfeiture proceedings will not be instituted; or (ii) forfeiture proceedings have concluded and there is a settlement or a court order providing that the vehicle shall be returned to the owner of record.
      (4)   If the owner of record requests a hearing but fails to appear at the hearing or fails to request a hearing in a timely manner, the owner of record shall be deemed to have waived his or her right to a hearing and an administrative law officer of the Department of Administrative Hearings shall enter a default order in favor of the City in the amount of the administrative penalty prescribed for the violation, plus towing and storage fees. However, if the owner: (i) redeemed the vehicle by payment of the appropriate penalty and fees, and (ii) was notified of the owner's right to request a hearing, and (iii) failed to timely request a hearing, then the payment shall be deemed an acknowledgment of liability and no adjudication shall be required.
      (5)   For the purposes of this section and those sections referenced in subsection (a), the terms "seizure and impoundment" and "seized and impounded" shall be deemed to also refer to a vehicle that a police officer or other authorized City agent or employee determines is subject to impoundment because there is probable cause to believe it was used in violation of one or more of those sections listed in subsection (a), regardless of whether the vehicle is actually towed to and held at a City facility.
   (c)   (1)   An administrative penalty, plus towing and storage fees, imposed pursuant to this section shall constitute a debt due and owing to the city which may be enforced pursuant to Section 2-14-103 or in any other manner provided by law. Any amounts paid pursuant to this section shall be applied to the penalty. Except as provided otherwise in this section, a vehicle shall continue to be impounded until:
         (A)   the payment of the administrative penalty, plus any applicable towing and storage fees, plus all amounts due for outstanding final determinations of parking, standing compliance, automated traffic law enforcement system or automated speed enforcement system violations incurred by the owner, including all related collection costs and attorney's fees authorized under Section 1-19-020. Upon payment, possession of the vehicle shall be given to the person who is legally entitled to possess the vehicle; or
         (B)   the vehicle is sold or otherwise disposed of to satisfy a judgment or enforce a lien as provided by law.
      (2)   Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, whenever a person with a lien of record against a vehicle impounded under this section has commenced foreclosure proceedings, possession of the vehicle shall be given to that person if he pays the applicable towing and storage fees and agrees in writing to refund to the city the net proceeds of any foreclosure sale, less any amounts necessary to pay all lien holders of record, up to the total amount of penalties imposed under this section.
      (3)   Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, no vehicle that was seized and impounded pursuant to Section 7-24-225 shall be returned to the record owner unless and until the city has received notice from the appropriate state, or where applicable, federal officials that (i) forfeiture proceedings will not be instituted; or (ii) forfeiture proceedings have concluded and there is a settlement or a court order providing that the vehicle shall be returned to the owner of record.
   (d)   Any motor vehicle that is not reclaimed within ten days after the expiration of the time during which the owner of record may seek judicial review of the city's action under this section, or, if judicial review is sought, the time at which a final judgment is rendered in favor of the city, or the time a final administrative decision is rendered against any owner of record who is in default may be disposed of as an unclaimed vehicle as provided by law; provided that, if the vehicle was seized and impounded pursuant to Section 7-24-225 and proceedings have been instituted under state or federal drug asset forfeiture laws, the vehicle may not be disposed of by the city except as consistent with those proceedings.
   (e)   As used in this section, the “owner of record” of a vehicle means the record title holder and includes, for purposes of enforcing Section 3-46-076, the “license holder of a ground transportation vehicle” as that term is defined in Chapter 3-46. For purposes of this section and the sections of the Municipal Code enumerated in subsection (a) of this section, “owner of record” also includes the lessee of the vehicle.
   (f)   Fees for towing and storage of a vehicle under this section shall be the same as those charged pursuant to Chapter 9-92 of this Code.
   (g)   In a hearing on the propriety of impoundment under Section 7-24-226, any sworn or affirmed report, including a report prepared in compliance with Section 11-501.1 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, that (1) is prepared in the performance of a law enforcement officer's duties and (2) sufficiently describes the circumstances leading to the impoundment, shall be admissible evidence of the vehicle owner's liability under Section 7-24-226, and shall support a finding of the vehicle owner's liability under Section 7-24-226, unless rebutted by clear and convincing evidence.
   (h)   For purposes of the section, a vehicle is not considered to have been used in a violation that would render the vehicle eligible for towing if:
      (1)   the vehicle used in the violation was stolen at the time and the theft was reported to the appropriate police authorities within 24 hours after the theft was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered;
      (2)   the vehicle was operating as a common carrier and the violation occurred without the knowledge of the person in control of the vehicle;
      (3)   the alleged owner provides adequate proof that the vehicle had been sold to another person prior to the violation;
      (4)   the owner of the vehicle provides adequate proof that a criminal court dismissed all of the alleged criminal violations for which the vehicle was impounded after a judicial finding of the facts of, or laws applicable to, such violations; or
      (5)   the owner of the vehicle was not present at the scene of the alleged crime for which the vehicle was impounded, and the owner of the vehicle provides adequate proof that:
         (i)   (A)   the owner was not legally accountable for the conduct giving rise to the impoundment or acquiesced in the conduct; and (B) the owner did not solicit, conspire, or attempt to commit the conduct giving rise to the impoundment; and (C) the owner did not know or did not have reason to know that the conduct giving rise to the impoundment was likely to occur; or
         (ii)   a motion of innocent owner has been granted to the owner pursuant to 725 ILCS 150/9.1, 720 ILCS 5/36-2.7 or 720 ILCS 5/29B-14 for the alleged violation for which the vehicle was impounded.
   (i)   (1)   Notwithstanding any provision of this section to the contrary, a lessor (except where the lessee holds title to the vehicle) asserting his right to possession of a vehicle impounded pursuant to one or more of the use-related offense sections set forth in subsection (a) may obtain immediate release of such vehicle by paying the applicable towing and storage fees provided in subsection (f) of this section and agreeing in writing to refund to the city the net proceeds of any sale, less any amounts necessary to pay all lien holders of record, up to the total amount of any outstanding penalties imposed under subsection (c)(1); and submitting a copy or other satisfactory evidence of the vehicle lease or rental agreement, indicating the lessee's name, address and driver's license number. The requirements of subsection (c) of this section regarding the payment of final determinations of parking, standing, compliance, automated traffic law enforcement system or automated speed enforcement system violations shall apply to a lessor only if the lessor is liable for such outstanding final determinations. The city shall refund the towing and storage fees to such lessor if the city recovers such fees from the lessee, or if the towing is ultimately determined to be improper or erroneous, or if the lessee is otherwise determined not to be liable for such fees.
      (2)   No person who is the lessor of a vehicle pursuant to a written vehicle lease or rental agreement shall be liable for administrative penalties and fines set forth in one or more of the use-related offense sections set forth in subsection (a)(1) involving such vehicle during the period of the lease or rental agreement, if the lessor provides to the department of streets and sanitation or police, either prior to or within 30 days of the receipt of a notice of impoundment, a copy or other evidence of the vehicle lease or rental agreement, indicating the name, address, and driver's license number of the lessee. If such penalty, fine or fee has already been imposed on the lessor, it shall be abated by the city upon receipt of such copy or other evidence within the time frame provided herein.
   (j)   When an authorized employee or agent of the city has probable cause to believe that a vehicle is subject to seizure and impoundment pursuant to any one or more of the code sections set forth in subsection (a)(1) of this section, he shall affix a notice to the vehicle in a conspicuous place. Such notice shall warn that the vehicle is subject to seizure for purposes of impoundment. The notice shall also provide a warning that removal or relocation of the vehicle by any person other than the city or its authorized agents is unlawful.
   It shall be unlawful for anyone other than an authorized agent of the city to remove or relocate any vehicle that has been determined to be subject to impoundment and which bears a warning notice that the vehicle is subject to seizure for purposes of impoundment. The owner of record of such vehicle, and any person who removes or relocates such vehicle in violation of this subsection, shall be subject to a penalty of no less than $1,000.00 and no more than $2,000.00 for such violation. This offense shall be a strict liability offense as to the vehicle's owner of record. Anyone who removes a vehicle sticker affixed to a vehicle pursuant to this section before such vehicle is relocated to a city facility shall be subject to a fine of no less than $500.00 and no more than $1,000.00.
   (k)   Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, no impounded vehicle shall be released and operated on the public ways of the city without a current state registration plate registered to the impounded vehicle and unless the vehicle is covered by a liability insurance policy. In addition, if an impounded vehicle is required to be licensed under Chapter 3-56 of this Code, no such vehicle shall be released without a valid City of Chicago wheel tax license emblem. The owner of an impounded rental or commercial motor vehicle may meet the wheel tax license emblem requirement of this subsection by presenting proof of ownership of the impounded rental or commercial motor vehicle and a receipt issued by the office of the city clerk showing that the owner has purchased wheel tax license emblems for the owner's rental or commercial motor vehicles in accordance with Chapter 3-56 of this Code.
   (l)   Any vehicle impounded by the City or its designee shall be subject to a possessory lien in favor of the City in the amount required to obtain release of the vehicle.
(Added Coun. J. 4-29-98, p. 66564; Amend Coun. J. 7-21-99, p. 9095; Amend Coun. J. 12-15-99, p. 21529, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 3-15-00, p. 27700, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 6-6-01, p. 60138, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 12-12-01, p. 76443, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 7-31-02, p. 90675, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 12-4-02, p. 99026, § 5.1; Amend Coun. J. 5-7-03, p. 564, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 9-4-03, p. 7167, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 11-3-04, p. 34974, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 10-6-05, p. 56698, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 12-7-05, p. 64870, § 1.8; Amend Coun. J. 7-26-06, p. 81473, § 5; Amend Coun. J. 7-26-06, p. 81824, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 11-13-07, p. 14999, Art. I, § 7; Amend Coun. J. 12-12-07, p. 17518, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 11-18-09, p. 77163, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 7-2-10, p. 96234, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 11-17-10, p. 106597, Art. III, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 7-28-11, p. 5048, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 12-14-11, p. 17753, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 1-18-12, p. 19118, § 3; Amend Coun. J. 9-11-13, p. 58821, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 10-16-13, p. 61861, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 4-30-14, p. 80633, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 5-28-14, p. 82771, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 10-28-15, p. 11951, Art. III, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 11-16-16, p. 37901, Art. VIII, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 7-22-20, p. 18957, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 11-24-20, p. 24619, Art. V, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 4-21-21, p. 29728, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 5-26-21, p. 30457, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 7-21-21, p. 33189, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 10-27-21, p. 39525, § 1)