Due Process is Such a Bother

Saw this linked over at Tam’s.

Turn It Up; Lose Your Wheels

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.

So, this give us an interesting dilemma.  On one hand, no one (of reason) like to hear the BOOM, BOOM, BOOM of someone’s base invading their space, be it their car or home.  On the other hand, HEARSAY AS PERMISSABLE EVIDENCE????  And then you could loose your car for months, having the burdon of proof on you that you did nothing wrong.  Then, even when you’re found “not guilty”, you have to pay storage fees. 

Holy Jumping Catfish Batman.  I don’t like the smell of this at all.

Posted by Drew458    United States   on 09/25/2007 at 07:00 PM   
  1. Isn’t this a violation of the 5th Amendment of the Constitution? The first ‘victim’ needs to take this to the Supreme Court - hopefully this time they will actually read the Constitution before Ruling.

    Posted by wardmama4    United States   09/25/2007  at  07:25 PM  
  2. This is a prime example of why the founding fathers of our nation included the 2nd Amendment. Need I say more?

    Posted by StephanA    United States   09/25/2007  at  07:39 PM  
  3. Not only the 5th Amendment but also the 4th.

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Posted by BobF    United States   09/25/2007  at  07:51 PM  
  4. This is nothing more than a money grab, hopefully one that will see the city in financial distress after the first lawsuit.  (Not that I like to see financial distress, but this kind of thing must be dealt with swiftly and in such manner as to deter other government entities from trying this crap.)

    Posted by John C    United States   09/25/2007  at  10:47 PM  
  5. Hey guys, lighten up!  This is Illinois for cris sake! You have no rights.

    Posted by Len - KC    United States   09/25/2007  at  11:59 PM  
  6. Hearsay? Hell, that would be an improvement!! The cop just has to decide your stereo could be loud enough ... based on looks alone perhaps: “Whenever a police officer has probably cause to believe that a vehicle is subject to seizure”. WTF?

    And then the special Loudness Cop gets to decide if you’re guilty? Is that what Rockford thinks Due Process is these days?

    Holy Mackeral, this has to be some kind of April Fool’s joke. Nobody even slightly in their right mind would pass this kind of thing. But IT IS REAL. Here it is, right on that city’s website:

    Let’s not forget the part in the old Costitution about excessive fines or punishment. If you play the stereo in your house too loud, I think it usually carries a $50 fine for being a pain in the ass. $1100 and your car impounded for 45+ days is way out of line.

    Rockford has an Independant for a mayor, 8 Democrats and 6 Republicans on the city council. I think they all should be fired. LOUDLY.

    Posted by Drew458    United States   09/26/2007  at  03:37 AM  
  7. Len: you mean the Народная Республика Ильиной! (People’s Republic of Illinois) cool mad

    Posted by Macker    United States   09/26/2007  at  10:11 AM  
  8. i would put every council member and cops name in the box........®

    Posted by Rancino    United States   09/26/2007  at  07:24 PM  
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