SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Cunningham advanced a measure that would add medical devices to the list of items that can be recovered from a towed vehicle and seeks to address over-the-top towing fees on stolen vehicles.

“I was shocked to find out that car owners are currently not allowed to recover medical devices, like hearing aids, from their vehicles – even if their vehicle is stolen and later towed,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs. “This is a commonsense fix. I think we can all agree that private towing companies shouldn’t be able to hold medical devices hostage in a towed vehicle.”

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 not only add medical devices to the list of personal property items that can be recovered from a towed vehicle, it also seeks to address exorbitant fees levied by towing companies for individuals who have their vehicle stolen. The legislation would waive the car owner’s liability for any storage fee imposed on their vehicle that resulted from the vehicle being stolen or hijacked.

Under current law, the full list of items that can be recovered from a towed vehicle includes child restraint systems, eyeglasses, food, medicine, perishable property, licenses, cash, credit cards, checks or checkbooks, wallets, purses or other identifying documents.

“If a private towing company can hold a medical device hostage, then there is a serious problem with the way towing laws are written in Illinois,” said Cunningham. “It’s time to clean this up for good.”

Senate Bill 2654 passed the Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday.