St. Clair County Sheriff's Office accused of ignoring law to keep man's SUV impounded longer -

St. Clair County Sheriff's Office accused of ignoring law to keep man's SUV impounded longer

ST. CLAIR COUNTY, IL ( -- The st clair county sheriff’s office is accused of not following the law while impounding a resident’s car, and making it harder for a driver to get a car back.

Michael Earl admits to not having his driver’s license when he was pulled over Tuesday night for a light out. Because of this, he was taken to jail, and his Suburban was towed.

Earl bought the Surburban and financed it at Paylater Auto Sales in Cahokia. Once it was impounded, he asked Paylater to get the vehicle for him, as the dealership was the lienholder and had the right to get the car out. Earl called the dealership the night he was arrested, because the car was his livelihood, and he didn’t want to accrue additional fees.  But they claim the sheriff’s office changed the rules on them.

“That’s hard on me cause that’s how i make my living, that’s how Ii get to and from work to take care of my bills,” he said.

When a representative of Paylater arrived at the impound lot, they say the St. Clair Sheriff’s Office changed the rules.  

“They said they need the court order,” said Emily Strite. “I mean it’s crazy it makes no sense especially with us being the lien holder and having the right to get the vehicle with or without the customer’s permission.”

As the lienholder, the dealership has the right to retrieve the vehicle. If getting a court order drags on for days or weeks, it will not only increase costs to get the vehicle out, it could put the vehicle in jeopardy.

“If they keep the vehicle for so long the police department or the tow yard gets to auction off the vehicle,” said Strite. “Therefore us the car dealership and the customer are out a vehicle.”

News 4  talked with an attorney with the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office who they made it clear whoever made the loan and has the lien on a car, and has the legal right to get the car out of impound for the owner.

A spokesman for the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office said he doesnt know why the car wasnt released and couldnt reach the employees working at the time. He said he’ll bring in the state’s attorney’s office and ask them to review their procedures to make sure they’re folloiwng the law properly.

Michael Earl obtained the paperwork the Sheriff’s Office said he needed and will be able to get his Suburban Friday morning.

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