A new Rockford, Illinois law allows police to seize the automobiles of owners who play their stereos too loud.
But it gets worse.
There is no requirement that a police officer responding to a complaint objectively measure sound levels with electronic equipment or even personally witness an alleged offense. Instead, the ordinance states that "hearsay evidence shall be admissible" and that property will be seized upon the assertion of probable cause.
The only way to protest the seizure is to prove you weren't driving your car at the time virtually anyone could have lodged a complaint against you. But look at what you have to go through to get it back:
If a motorist believes his car has been unlawfully towed on a Friday after 5pm, he may challenge the taking by "depositing a written request for a hearing in the silver drop box located behind city hall," according to the ordinance. The city must then respond by the following Wednesday. If the registered owner was not driving at the time the car was taken, he will be mailed a letter within ten days. After this time he is given less than fifteen days to request a hearing. The city may then wait another 45 days to schedule a hearing while storage fees accumulate up to $1100.
A hearing officer designated by Rockford will decide under a preponderance of evidence standard whether it is likely the motorist is guilty, in which case the hearing officer's employers will collect the fine and fee revenue from the motorist. If the vehicle's owner does not receive the mailed notice or cannot pay the fees within 30 days, the city will confiscate the vehicle permanently.
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