Everything You Need to Know About Illinois Towing Laws

Police and private property owners can tow your vehicle if it’s illegally parked in Illinois. You have 21 days to retrieve your towed vehicle
Written by Jacqulyn Graber
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
law, police have the right to tow a vehicle if it is abandoned, illegally parked, or left unattended on a toll highway, interstate highway, or expressway for two hours or more.
  • Police can tow your vehicle if it is illegally parked or if it is creating a traffic hazard.
  • Private property owners can tow your vehicle if it is breaking a trespassing notice.
  • You have rights when it comes to retrieving your towed vehicle. 
  • Fees apply to remove your vehicle from impound.

When can police tow a vehicle in Illinois? 

The document that determines when police can tow you in the state of Illinois is the Illinois Compiled Statutes, specifically
Vehicle Code 625 ILCS 5
. If you don’t want to read the long, complicated Illinois vehicle code, here’s how it breaks down.
Allowed circumstances: Police are allowed to tow your vehicle if it:
  • Has been abandoned or left unattended on a toll highway, interstate highway, or expressway for 2 hours or more
  • Has been abandoned on a highway in an urban district for 10 hours or more
  • Has been abandoned or left unattended on a highway other than a toll highway, interstate highway, or expressway outside of an urban district for 24 hours or more
  • Has been abandoned, unattended, wrecked, burned, or partially dismantled and is creating a traffic hazard because of its position in relation to the highway, or its physical appearance is causing the impeding of traffic
Your vehicle may also be towed if it is parked in a disabled vehicle spot and you don’t have the appropriate motor vehicle placard to park there.

How to get your car out of an impound lot in Illinois 

Location: If you are present when the vehicle is seized, you may be given the location of where your car is headed right away. If you’re not present, you’ll be notified by mail of the impoundment with a number to call for its location.
Time window: If a car is not collected or spoken for within 21 days, the vehicle may be resold at a law enforcement auction.
Fees: To retrieve a vehicle from impoundment, you must first pay fines that could amount to hundreds of dollars. It partially depends on the storage facility.
  • Bond/impound fee
  • Towing fee
  • Storage charges (usually per day)
  • Any fees associated with unpaid tickets
Try to pay storage fees as soon as possible to keep them from growing. In some Illinois cities, you must pay these fees entirely in cash instead of via credit card.
Retrieval: Once your fees are paid, you can head to the impound lot to pick up your vehicle. You’ll need to provide proof of ownership, which may include proof of insurance and a driver’s license.

When can private property owners tow a vehicle in Illinois?

Private property owners, like landlords and business owners, have the right to have your car towed in certain situations in addition to the police.
Trespassing notice: According to
Illinois law code 625 ILCS 5/4-203
, private property owners can order a tow if your vehicle is trespassing. 
Trespassing occurs only after your vehicle receives a notice that it is not allowed to be parked there. The notice can come from a previously posted sign.
The law is quite specific about the sign's look, location, and content. Here are the rules:
  • A sign must be posted at each entrance that lets vehicles into the property
  • Signs must be within 5 feet of the public street
  • If there are no curbs or access barriers, then there must be signs posted not less than one sign every 100 feet of lot frontage
  • With 2-, 3-, or 4-family residences, the sign can be located at the perimeter of the parking lot, in a position visible to occupants of vehicles entering the lot
  • Signs must have reflective letters at least 2 inches high, on a contrasting background
  • The bottom of the sign must be at least 4 feet off the ground
  • The sign must state that unauthorized vehicles will be towed at the vehicle owner’s expense, and provide the name and phone number of the towing service that removes the vehicle 
The property owner must also give written instructions to the towing company. If the law isn’t followed exactly, the property owner cannot legally tow your vehicle. 

When can your car be towed from a parking lot in Illinois?

Finally, per Illinois Law Code: 9-92-030, your vehicle can be towed from a public parking lot if it is:
  • Left unattended 
  • Unlawfully parked so as to constitute a hazard or obstruction to the normal movement of traffic
In other words, if you’re not properly parked in a singular, dedicated space, you could be at risk for a tow.

You have rights if your car is towed in Illinois

To avoid predatory towing practices, it’s important to know your rights in the event that your vehicle is towed. 
Release timeline: When a vehicle has been towed and impounded in Illinois, it must be released to its owner or custodian:
  • Within one-half hour if you make the request during business hours
  • Within two hours if you make the request after business hours
Option to go to court: If you believe that your vehicle was unlawfully towed, towed in error, or damaged by the tow truck operators, you can also request a court hearing. 
You must do this within 15 days of the mailed impoundment notification. You can still request a hearing even after you retrieve your car from the tow truck or impound lot.
Be aware that tickets go on your record, which can impact rates and insurance policies. Under state law, some traffic violations are more serious than others (like misdemeanors) and insurance companies will charge you much higher premiums for these violations.
“My speeding ticket raised my insurance to $310/month.
got me full comprehensive coverage on two vehicles for $144/month through Progressive. I definitely recommend giving them a try.” —Brandon D.
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