By Pat Milhizer
Law Bulletin staff writer
The 1st District Appellate Court upheld a Chicago ordinance that lets police ticket street-parked cars that feature tinted front windows.
After police ticketed Sudip Ray's car in 2010, Ray contested the ticket by mail. He contended that his car complied with a state law that allows tinted front windows as long as the glass allows certain percentages of light to pass through.
An administrative law judge upheld the $250 ticket. Ray sought relief in the Daley Center, saying the city ordinance restricts interstate and intrastate commerce.
Ray argued that the ordinance prevents drivers — who live outside Chicago and own vehicles with tinted front windows — from freely visiting or passing through the city without risk of a fine. He also said state law pre-empts the ordinance.
In addition, Ray alleged that the ordinance's basis of police safety lacks support because the city doesn't restrict back window tint.
The city countered that its home rule power validates the ordinance and that state lawmakers didn't limit or exercise concurrent power over tinted windows.
Cook County Circuit Judge Patrick T. Rogers sided with the city. Ray appealed.
A state appellate panel affirmed Rogers' ruling last week in an unpublished order written by Justice Aurelia Pucinski.
Pucinski noted Ray's argument that the ordinance could cause the city to lose revenue because people would avoid Chicago.
Pucinski responded that the city can exercise its home rule authority in this manner and cited Kalodimos v. Village of Morton Grove. 103 Ill. 2d 483 (1984).
Citing Kalodimos, Pucinski wrote that courts don't invalidate a municipal speed limit just because a driver avoids the municipality due to the speed limit.
Pucinski also wrote that nothing in state law indicates that lawmakers wanted to trump the city's ability to have the ordinance.
Pucinski ruled that the ordinance is rationally related to police safety and that Ray cites no authority indicating otherwise.
The city was represented by Deputy Corporation Counsel Benna Ruth Solomon, Chief Assistant Corporation Counsel Myriam Zreczny Kasper and Assistant Corporation Counsel Jonathon Delmar Byrer. A Law Department spokesman couldn't be reached.
Ray was represented pro bono by Thomas T. Glasgow of the Law Offices of Thomas Glasgow Ltd. in Schaumburg.
Glasgow said he will ask the Illinois Supreme Court to take the case. A village board trustee in Arlington Heights, Glasgow said the appellate court's speed limit comparison isn't proper because the state yielded speed limit authority to municipalities.
"It amazes me when I talk to everyone about this, they say 'That's not right.' … It's not right for them to impose their will on other people throughout the state," Glasgow said.
Glasgow also questioned if the ordinance supports police safety because an empty parked car poses no threat. He's also heard from drivers who got tickets even though they parked in private business lots or garages.
"Some of these people that I talked to ended up getting multiple tickets within the course of the same day," he said.
"I have had literally hundreds of clients call my office saying 'I bought this car; it's got factory tint on it. … And I got a ticket.' Now the city of Chicago has invoked its home rule authority and it allows Chicago to regulate the equipment on a car.
"You can imagine the logical extension of that. Let's say a city like Waukegan wanted to say 'We think 20-inch rims are unsafe, so we want you to take off your 20-inch rims when you come to Waukegan.'"
Justices Terrence J. Lavin and James R. Epstein concurred in the ruling — Sudip Ray v. City of Chicago. 2012 IL App (1st) 111284-U.