If your car or truck gets impounded in Forest Park, it’s now going to cost you $500 to get it back. The measure raising the fee from $75 to the $500 that’s charged by many neighboring municipalities was approved by the Forest Park village council at its meeting Monday night. 

Vehicle impounds in nearby communities, including Westchester and Berwyn, have been $500 for several years.  According to Police Chief Jim Ryan, the intent of the ordinance is simply to “recoup fees expended by the village” during arrests.

“We anticipate it will be a deterrent,” Ryan told commissioners. Arrests resulting in auto impounds include charges of driving with a suspended or revoked license or no license at all, driving under the influence, plates suspended because of no insurance, unlawful use of a weapon, drug possession and numerous other offenses.

Objections were raised by commissioners Marty Tellalian and Rory Hoskins.  Tellalian suggested the ordinance “makes a presumption of guilt” since, he said, it’s possible that a person arrested could have his car impounded, be fined $500, then later be found “not guilty” on charges made at the time of the arrest. 

Mayor Anthony Calderone responded that the ordinance “isn’t about being found guilty – it’s a fee to recover costs.  These arrests consume a lot of time and manpower,” Calderone said. 

“I think this is about as regressive as you can get,” said Hoskins, expressing concern for possible undue hardship to the owner of an impounded car, especially an owner who may not have been driving or even present when the arrest was made. Hoskins said that “two-thirds of the revenue will just be on suspended or revoked licenses – we’ll be hurting a lot of people.  Scofflaws tend to have kids, unfortunately.  If kids have to go without school clothes because of this policy…it’s just very regressive.”

Ryan and village attorney Nicholas Peppers explained that such any such hardships would  be dealt with in a local hearing within a day or two of the arrest.  Peppers added that this type of ordinance has already been challenged and upheld in Chicago, and that the fees are civil, not criminal, in nature.  The ordinance passed with only Hoskins opposed.