State lawmakers in Springfield made a significant change to the Illinois Vehicle Code in 2013. The change is important because it could impact a person who was charged with driving under the influence.
The law in our state allows law enforcement officers to seize property that was used in the commission of a criminal offense. Under 720 ILCS 5/36-1, police officers can seize a person’s vehicle and commence a forfeiture proceeding. If the State prevails, the vehicle will be forfeited to the State and sold at auction. The owner will lose the property and is not reimbursed.
This is known as an Article 36 seizure.
One of the offenses for which the police can seize the vehicle is driving during a summary suspension or DUI-based revocation, 625 ILCS 5/6-303(a).
Recall that a summary suspension goes into effect after 45 days have passed since the arrest. The summary suspension is imposed because either the driver refused chemical testing or refused.
Driving while suspended is a Class A misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. In addition, the offender faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 days jail or 30 days of community service.
But perhaps a more serious penalty is the loss of the vehicle.
Legislators broadened the statute in 2013 to give law enforcement additional grounds to seize a vehicle. The amendment reads as follows:
The motor vehicle used in a violation of this Section is subject to seizure and forfeiture as provided in Sections 36-1 and 36-2 of the Criminal Code of 1961 if the person’s driving privilege was revoked or suspended as a result of:
(1) a violation of Section 11-501 of this Code, a similar provision of a local ordinance, or a similar provision of a law of another state;
(2) a violation of paragraph (b) of Section 11-401 of this Code, a similar provision of a local ordinance, or a similar provision of a law of another state;
(3) a statutory summary suspension or revocation under Section 11-501.1 of this Code or a similar provision of a law of another state; or
(4) a violation of Section 9-3 of the Criminal Code of 1961 relating to the offense of reckless homicide, or a similar provision of a law of another state.
625 ILCS 5/6-303(g).
And so, any person who is suspended or revoked can have his vehicle taken away, even if the suspension or revocation comes from another state.
Considering the budget problems Illinois has, expect more Article 36 seizures in the years to come. Police departments can generate substantial revenue from forfeitures.