A little known city code in Chicago allows for the city to take your car when someone within it is found to possess a drug—even if you aren’t aware of it. This means drivers in Chicago may want to start patting down their passengers if they hope to completely eliminate the risk.
According to ForfeitureForum.com, a state appeals court recently rejected one woman’s plea to overturn the taking of her vehicle under Chicago Municipal Code §7-24-225. She had left her parked car. While she was away, two passengers inside the vehicle were found possessing a 1.4 gram blunt, or cigar filled with marijuana, and a bag with about 1.6 grams of pot. They were arrested and the vehicle was seized.
The woman had no knowledge of the people sitting in her car or the pot they had in their possession. But, because the city’s code lacks what’s called an innocent owner defense, these things didn’t matter. The bottom line was that drugs were found in her vehicle and 7-24-225 allows for her vehicle to be taken.
An innocent owner defense would have precluded the woman in this case from losing her vehicle because she had no knowledge of the drugs. But, until that is added to the existing law, no Chicago drivers are fortunate enough to have that benefit.
Instead, if someone rides or merely sits in your vehicle and has drugs on them, you could lose your car.
ForfeitureForum.com says the law is written so broadly, that it could even possibly allow the city to take your vehicle if it was stolen by someone with drugs in their possession. Although the law has an exception for those stolen vehicles that were reported within 24 hours of being taken, if you were away on vacation, for instance, you wouldn’t be able to do this and would therefore be subject to forfeiture.
The city of Chicago may have recently decriminalized pot possession, but that doesn’t mean things here have gotten any easier. It doesn’t matter how much of a drug you are caught with, you can lose your vehicle. And if it isn’t pot, you can also be charged with a crime.
If you are accused of a drug offense, a defense lawyer may be able to help you avoid the worst penalties. Contact our offices today to discuss the details of your case and how we might be able to help.