SPRINGFIELD – A new measure sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham will protect vehicle owners by updating towing regulations often abused by rogue towing companies.

“The more I have learned about the towing industry in Illinois, the more I see that we need to make changes,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs. “This measure will stop towing companies from holding medical devices, like hearing aids, hostage if a vehicle is stolen and later towed.”

The legislation was brought to Cunningham from a constituent of the 18th District. The constituent’s vehicle was stolen from outside their residence in Chicago and was eventually located by law enforcement and towed in Alsip. The constituent did not find out where their vehicle was located until a week after it was recovered, receiving a letter in the mail from a suburban towing company that was holding the vehicle. When the constituent went to recover the vehicle, they were told they would have to pay a fee of $1,500 and were not allowed to recover a hearing aid from the vehicle until the fee was paid.

Cunningham’s measure would add medical devices and other items to the list of property that can be recovered from a towed vehicle without payment. Cunningham also discovered that there was an issue with the notification process when a vehicle is stolen and later towed. To address that issue, the measure requires towing companies to provide written notice to the vehicle’s owner within two days of towing. Additionally, if the owner recovers the vehicle within seven days, the towing company would not be able to charge any storage fees. In order to streamline the notification process, the measure also requires law enforcement to give towing companies the name and mailing address of the vehicle owner when a tow is authorized.

“The rules we are putting in place will give car owners more rights when they go to recover their towed vehicle,” said Cunningham. “If we see more problems arise on this issue, we’ll be in a good place to be able to make further changes as needed”

Senate Bill 2654 passed the Senate on Tuesday and awaits further consideration in the House.