Lincoln Towing should keep its license, judge says

State officials revoked the infamous towing company’s license over a year ago, but a Cook County judge says it was denied due process.

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A man swings a plastic bag over his shoulder while walking past Lincoln Towing Service in 2009.

A Cook County judge on Wednesday reversed a state decision to revoke Lincoln Towing’s license.

Sun-Times file photo

The “Lincoln Park Pirates” aren’t going anywhere soon.

A Cook County judge on Wednesday reversed a state decision to revoke Lincoln Towing’s license, ruling the Illinois Commerce Commission violated the towing outfit’s rights to due process as it battles to stay in business after decades of allegations of aggressive towing violations.

In an order marking a win for Lincoln Towing, Judge Neil Cohen ruled the commission “failed to advise [Lincoln Towing] of the charges against it and failed to advise ... that it was facing revocation of its license.”

ICC spokeswoman Victoria Crawford said, “We are disappointed in the ruling and are exploring all of our options with our legal counsel, the Attorney General’s Office, representing us in this case.”

Representatives for Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office declined to comment. An attorney for Lincoln Towing did not return a message seeking comment.

The commission revoked Lincoln Towing’s license in September 2018 after a two-year investigation determined “Lincoln’s pattern and practice of conducting unauthorized relocations harms the public and demonstrates that Lincoln is incompetent and unworthy to hold a relocator’s license.”

Commission staffers recorded an alleged 462 unauthorized tows and 369 instances of the company using an unlicensed operator within an eight-month span.

Lincoln Towing sued, arguing the revocation of its license was “unenforceable” and spelled an “imminent and dangerous” disruption to business.

The company has remained in operation while the legal battle plays out, though it partially rebranded to its corporate title, Protective Parking Services, as state scrutiny intensified last year.

Cohen wrote the commission erred by immediately revoking Lincoln Towing’s license despite an administrative law judge’s finding the company “was fit, willing and able” to operate legally.

“While the Commission arguably could have ordered that Plaintiff’s license not be renewed upon its expiration ... it could not revoke” the license pursuant to a fitness investigation, Cohen wrote.

The state can appeal the judge’s decision.

Legendary Chicago songwriter Steve Goodman immortalized the company in his 1972 song “Lincoln Park Pirates,” singing “no one can make us shut down.”

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