Edwardsville attorney Brian Polinske wants his clients off the hook for city fees linked to processing their towed vehicles following an arrest. He is suing six local cities over fees of up to $500 that must be paid before the drivers face the towing and storage costs, and thinks there is a class-action lawsuit in the injustice of having drunks pay for police getting them off the road.
St. Ann and Ferguson, Mo., have been in the news for treating traffic tickets like ATMs. There’s a difference between cashing in on speeders and recovering a public investment from those who choose to put others at risk by driving drunk.
Edwardsville leaders say three hours of a police officer’s time is spent on paperwork, processing the vehicle and court time for each drunken driver’s arrest. That would be three hours that officer is not patrolling neighborhoods or handling other crimes.
Edwardsville Police Chief Jay Keeven sees the $500 fee as a user fee. “If you don’t want to pay the fee, don’t drive drunk.”
Unless you were bleary eyed and missed them, there are billboards all around the area warning that a drunken driving arrest will cost you about $20,000. A $500 sliver of that big pie seems like a pittance that defense attorneys could easily offset if they are so worried about their clients’ wallets.