SPRINGFIELD, IL (KTVI) - A bill to curb towing abuses, prompted by a You Paid For It team investigation, clears a major hurdle in the Illinois Legislature.
The measure passed the Senate Transportation committee by unanimous vote and now goes to the full Senate.
A new measure introduced by State Senator Bill Haine of Alton would cut tow release fees to $50 in most cases.
We did several reports, investigating municipal mayors charging tow release fees as high as $500 to drivers whose vehicles had been towed, many for minor offenses like illegal parking. The driver then has to pay the towing company hundreds more to get their vehicle back.
Many motorists, often low-income, were out as much as $900 total. Many had their vehicles seized by the towing company when they couldn't pay to get the car out.
We took our findings to Senator Haine.
You Paid For It had discovered that he was one of the Metro East legislators who voted for a bill passed 5 years ago to deal with the towing issue. But municipal mayors were using a loophole in that bill to charge excessive fees.
Senator Haine's new proposal has now taken on statewide importance and will affect people from East St. Louis to Chicago.
An amendment added to Haine's bill tackles a major problem in the Chicago area, so-called rogue towing companies. Tow trucks showing upon a scene without being called and tow the vehicle anyway. Owners and their insurance companies end up paying $2,000 and $3,000 to get the vehicle back.
Under Senator Haine's bill that practice would become a felony.
In another major proposal the bill sets up, a statewide Towing Commission, that would be appointed by the Governor to come up with new regulations to curb abuses by towing companies.
The commission would include representatives from the Senate, the State Police, the Illinois Commerce Commission and the towing industry.
Senator Haine says the measure will now go to the full Senate, and if passed there, to the House of Representatives. If it clears that hurdle it would be sent to the Governor for his signature.