Updates on cases, laws, and other topics of interest to local governments

Subscribe by Email

Enter your Email:
Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Subscribe in a Reader

Follow Municipal Minute on Twitter


Blog comments do not reflect the views or opinions of the Author or Ancel Glink. Some of the content may be considered attorney advertising material under the applicable rules of certain states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please read our full disclaimer

Monday, January 16, 2012

Municipalities and Administrative Towing Fees

A number of Illinois municipalities have enacted ordinances that authorize the imposition of an administrative fee when a vehicle has to be towed and impounded due to the arrest or detention of the owner or driver for violation of a particular law or ordinance.  For example, an ordinance might authorize the impoundment of a vehicle in a DUI arrest or when the vehicle has been used in the commission of a felony.  Many of these ordinances impose a $500 fee when a vehicle has to be towed and impounded.  That administrative fee is in addition to the actual towing and impoundment costs that also must be reimbursed.

Until recently, these ordinances were not expressly authorized by state statute.  However, effective January 1, 2012, the Illinois Vehicle Code expressly authorizes municipalities to adopt ordinances imposing impound fees in accordance with the new statute.  625 ILCS 5/11-208.7.  The statute provides that a local ordinance must comply with the provisions of this new statute in order to be enforceable, although there is no express home rule preemption.  The statute also sets out the bases for which a municipality is authorized to tow and impound a vehicle, including driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, operation of a vehicle in the commission of a felony, and driving with a suspended or revoked drivers license, among others. 

The statute also establishes certain procedures for the impoundment and release of vehicles.  These provisions include a requirement that notice be sent to the owner/lessee of the vehicle at the time the vehicle is towed.  The municipality must also provide notice of an administrative hearing to the owner, lessee, and any lienholder of record within 10 days after the vehicle is impounded.  That hearing must be conducted no later than 45 days after the notice is mailed.  The administrative hearing must be conducted by a licensed attorney as hearing officer, who is required to issue a written decision at the conclusion of the hearing. 

Recently, a number of class action lawsuits have been brought against Illinois municipalities challenging the imposition of similar administrative towing fees.   The lawsuits claim that these fees far exceed the actual costs of administering the towing and impounding of a vehicle, and that the procedures for towing and impounding the vehicles violate due process rights of the vehicle owners.

It remains to be seen how the new statute will affect the outcome of these lawsuits, particularly since the pending lawsuits were filed prior to the effective date of this statute and the challenged ordinances do not have the benefit of express statutory authorization. 

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink.


  1. It is a damn shame that these municipalities charge excessive fees, especially in poor neighborhood that they know residents do not have money for this. No one wants their vehicle towed. Then the police do not even notify the owner of the vehicles to let them know that their vehicle has been towed. The towing company and the municipality make money off of every vehicle that is towed. This is a travesty of justice.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. How do we get added to the class action lawsuit?

  4. Where is it listed the amount that these fees are allowed to be? I did not see that in the statute anywhere or maybe I did not read the whole thing? Any help pointing me in the right direction would be appreciated.

    1. The fees are set by the municipality in the authorizing ordinance so you would have to check with the municipality to see what fee they impose.

    2. I knew that the city set the amount of the fee through an ordinance but I thought or was told actually that there is a state law limiting how much they can charge. This would be of course to stop municipalities from charging excessive fees.

    3. So is there no limit set by the state regulating the amount that can be charged?

    4. There are a variety of court cases, many of them decided in the last few years, that discuss the fees charged my municipalities for towing under this statute. I encourage you to discuss this matter with your lawyer who could research these cases and advise you as to your specific situation.

  5. I may have been told incorrectly? The man that owns the tow yard is the one who told us and he said he thought it was passed in the last year or two. Sorry I am just frustrated trying to search all these codes and I just got done reading the vehicle code you have listed above and then several others in 5/11 208 section.