Chicago Booting Debtors? Bill Would Allow City To Boot, Resell Vehicles Over Unpaid Bills

A new bill proposed by an Illinois state lawmaker would drastically expand Chicago's opportunities to put a Denver boot on the vehicles of individuals who owe the city money.

The new bill was introduced last month with little fanfare by state Sen. Ira Silverstein, a Chicago Democrat. Per the proposal, individuals who are found to owe the city money in a civil court judgement would have as little as 24 hours to pay their debts to City Hall after a boot is applied to avoid their vehicle being towed and impounded. The city could also sell the vehicle within 21 days, according to the proposal.

The bill, which would also apply to other Illinois municipalities, further specifies that a boot would only be applied after the debtor has had an opportunity to appear at a citation hearing to contest the "immobilization."

As Crain's Chicago Business notes, existing laws currently only allow for vehicles to be booted over traffic offenses such as parking fines, so the bill, should it become law, could drastically increase the number of Denver boots being applied in the city.

Silverstein told the Chicago Sun-Times the idea came to him from a lobbyist representing collection firms who are "trying to find a better avenue to collect money to help municipalities.”

Would the proposal even stand up in court, though? DePaul University law professor Leonard Cavise told CBS Chicago he suspected the policy outlined in the bill would violate due process.

"The city has the right to boot your car for traffic tickets, but they don’t have the right to boot your car for every conceivable other problem that you may have in your financial profile," Cavise told the station.

It is likely that reason that the mayor's office has yet to take a position on Silverstein's bill, per both the Sun-Times and Crain's.