SPRINGFIELD – Court fees and fines in Illinois have become bloated over the years with surcharges to pay for programs and services, resulting in steep increases to what people pay in civil and criminal cases, according to a new report.
Sometimes the added surcharges fund things unrelated to a case, such as law libraries, zero-interest loans for fire departments to buy new trucks, and waiting rooms for children while their parents are in court. In a recent case in central Illinois' McLean County, for example, a DUI offender paid $1,742 in fees distributed across 25 state and local funds, including a Children's Advocacy Center and a Fire Prevention Fund. Only about 8 percent of what was paid went to actual court costs related to the case.
Just a few of the report findings:
- In suburban Chicago's Kane County, the maximum fee to file a civil case grew from $220 in 2000 to $358 in 2015, a figure that can near or exceed dollar amounts at stake in a small claims dispute, the report said. And those are just base figures, not counting state and local add-ons for special programs.
- In another suburban Chicago county, DuPage, the fees paid for a DUI skyrocketed from $300 in 1995 to $2,172 in 2015, with the number of add-ons increasing from nine to 27.
- The price of filing for divorce depends on where you live. For example, it's $548 in Cook County, $487 in Will County, and $280 in Knox County.