Turn It Down, or Risk Being Towed
Like your music loud? Careful—a change to Oak Forest's towing ordinance could land you car-less and stranded.
Windows down, hair blowing in the breeze, favorite band filling your car with tunes as you cruise the neighborhood—all's good until someone hears it from 75 feet away.
Oak Forest aldermen Tuesday approved an amendment to its seizure and impoundment ordinance, stating that drivers playing music that can be heard from 75 feet away are at risk of towing.
Ald. Rich Simon recently approached Oak Forest Police Chief Greg Anderson about drivers whose music shakes his windows as they roll by. At an Aug. 28 city council meeting, Anderson asked aldermen to consider revising the city's towing ordinance to include music "disruptive to the peace and tranquility of a community."
Ald. Dan Ensing disputed the revision, noting the degree of violations presently enforced with towing:
- Possession or delivery of a controlled substance
- Driving while license suspended or revoked
- No valid license
- Unlawful use of a weapon
- Retail theft
- Aggravated assault, aggravated battery, armed robbery, burglary, residential burglary, criminal damage to property, or other forcible felony.
"This ordinance gives us the ability to seize and impound. So we could take a car away from somebody, and make it the city's own, and sell it auction, all because a person's stereo is too loud," Ensing said.
Anderson rebutted Ensing's point, clarifying that a person can post a $500 bond and get their car back immediately. The city does not intend to keep the cars, Anderson said. However, if the person cannnot afford to pay the impound fee, Anderson said he was unsure of what would happen.
The amendment banks on an Illinois statute dealing with sound amplification systems, stating that no driver within the state shall operate or permit operation of a sound amplification system which can be heard from the specified distance.
Officers could position him or herself on a corner and observe drivers from the specific distance, listening for loud music, Anderson said. The revision does not apply only to sound amplification systems—but to any music.
"I think once the word gets out that we have approved this tough ordinance, a lot of this stuff will cease on its own," said Ald. Rich Simon.
Officers would use their discretion to determine the repercussion, based on the severity of the offense.
"It's a relatively minor offense, and the officers are often paying attention to more important things," Anderson said.
Aldermen present voted 5-to-1 in favor of the revision, with Ald. Ensing dissenting.