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New Ordinance For Unlicensed Chicago Motorists

Driving with a suspended or revoked driver's license in Illinois (or anywhere, for that matter) already is a criminal offense. But unlicensed drivers will have their cars impounded under a new Chicago ordinance (Tribune) taking effect on January 1.

The Chicago City Council approved the ordinance last Wednesday in hopes of keeping unlicensed drivers -- often DUI offenders -- off the roads. It also could help the city raise some revenue, since it will cost a $500 fine and $165 in towing costs to get your car back.

More than 22,000 citations were issued by the Chicago police last for unlicensed driving. Although the stated goal is deterrence, the city would have raised more than $14.6 million if the ordinance had been in place last year.

Alderman Thomas Allen (38th) told a Tribune reporter he acknowledges that many unlicensed drivers will continue to take their chances but he believes it will deter enough drivers to make it effective.

Allen used the case of James E. Cox, who is charged with manslaughter after hitting and killing a pregnant mother of five who was standing on the sidewalk, to build momentum for the ordinance. 

Cox was cited more than a dozen times for driving without a license. He would have racked up nearly $8,000 in fines and towing fees if the law had been place and may not have been on the road that fateful day, Allen argues.

So while it's not specifically a DUI ordinance, it definitely will have an impact on many of those convicted of DUIs.