ARTICLE VII – ABANDONED, LOST, STOLEN OR UNCLAIMED VEHICLES

       24-7-1        ABANDONMENT OF VEHICLES PROHIBITED.

       (A)               The abandonment of a vehicle or any part thereof on any highway in this County is unlawful and subject to penalties as set forth under Section 1-1-20 of this Code.

       (B)               The abandonment of a vehicle or any part thereof on private or public property, other than a highway, in view of the general public, anywhere in this County is unlawful except on property of the owner or bailee of such abandoned vehicle.  A vehicle or any part thereof so abandoned on private property shall be authorized for removal, by the County, after a waiting period of seven (7) days or more, or may be removed immediately if determined to be a hazardous dilapidated motor vehicle under Section 5/11-40-3.1 of the Illinois Municipal Code.  A violation of subsections (A) or (B) of this Section is subject to penalties as set forth under Section 1-1-20 of this Code.

       (C)               A towing service may begin to process an unclaimed vehicle as abandoned by requesting a record search by the Secretary of State up to ten (10) days after the date of the tow, or any later date acceptable to the Secretary of State.  This paragraph shall not apply to vehicles towed by order or authorization of the County or a law enforcement agency.  (625 ILCS 5/4-201)

       24-7-2        ABANDONED, LOST, STOLEN OR UNCLAIMED VEHICLE NOTIFICATION TO LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES.  When an abandoned, lost, stolen or unclaimed vehicle comes into the temporary possession or custody of a person in this County, not the owner of the vehicle, such person shall immediately notify the municipal police when the vehicle is within the corporate limits of any County having a duly authorized police department, or the State Police or the county sheriff when the vehicle is outside the corporate limits of the County.  Upon receipt of such notification, the municipal police will authorize a towing service to remove and take possession of the abandoned, lost, stolen or unclaimed vehicle.  The towing service will safely keep the towed vehicle and its contents, maintain a record of the tow as set forth in 625 ILCS 5/4-204 for law enforcement agencies, until the vehicle is claimed by the owner or any other person legally entitled to possession thereof or until it is disposed of as provided in this Code.  (625 ILCS 5/4-202)

       24-7-3        REMOVAL OF MOTOR VEHICLES OR OTHER VEHICLES; TOWING OR HAULING AWAY.

       (A)               When a vehicle is abandoned on a highway in an urban district ten (10) hours or more, its removal by a towing service may be authorized by a law enforcement agency having jurisdiction.

       (B)               When a vehicle is abandoned or left unattended on a highway other than a toll highway, interstate highway, or expressway, outside of an urban district for twenty-four (24) hours or more, its removal by a towing service may be authorized by a law enforcement agency having jurisdiction.

       (C)               When an abandoned, unattended, wrecked, burned or partially dismantled vehicle is creating a traffic hazard because of its position in relation to the highway or its physical appearance is causing the impeding of traffic, its immediate removal from the highway or private property adjacent to the highway by a towing service may be authorized by a law enforcement agency having jurisdiction.

       24-7-4        POLICE TOWS; REPORTS, RELEASE OF VEHICLES, PAYMENT.  When a vehicle is authorized to be towed away as provided in Section 24-7-2 or 24-7-3:

       (A)               The authorization, any hold order, and any release shall be in writing, or confirmed in writing, with a copy given to the towing service.

       (B)               The police headquarters or office of the law officer authorizing the towing shall keep and maintain a record of the vehicle towed, listing the color, year of manufacture, manufacturer’s trade name, manufacturer’s series name, body style, Vehicle Identification Number, license plate year and number and registration sticker year and number displayed on the vehicle.  The record shall also include the date and hour of tow, location towed from, location towed to, reason for towing and the name of the officer authorizing the tow.

       (C)               The owner, operator, or other legally entitled person shall be responsible to the towing service for payment of applicable removal, towing, storage, and processing charges and collection costs associated with a vehicle towed or held under order or authorization of the law enforcement agency.  If a vehicle towed or held under order or authorization of a law enforcement agency is seized by the ordering or authorizing agency or any other law enforcement or governmental agency and sold, any unpaid removal, towing, storage, and processing charges and collection costs shall be paid to the towing service from the proceeds of the sale.  If applicable law provides that the proceeds are to be paid into the treasury of the appropriate civil jurisdiction, then any unpaid removal, towing, storage, and processing charges and collection costs shall be paid to the towing service from the treasury of the civil jurisdiction.  That payment shall not, however, exceed the amount of proceeds from the sale, with the balance to be paid by the owner, operator, or other legally entitled person.

       (D)               Upon delivery of a written release order to the towing service, a vehicle subject to a hold order shall be released to the owner, operator, or other legally entitled person upon proof of ownership or other entitlement and upon payment of applicable removal, towing, storage, and processing charges and collection costs.  (625 ILCS 5/4-204)

       24-7-5        RECORD SEARCHES FOR UNKNOWN OWNER.

       (A)               When a law enforcement agency authorizing the impounding of a vehicle does not know the identity of the registered owner, lienholder or other legally entitled person, that law enforcement agency will cause the vehicle registration records of the State of Illinois to be searched by the Secretary of State for the purpose of obtaining the required ownership information.

       (B)               The law enforcement agency authorizing the impounding of a vehicle will cause the stolen motor vehicle files of the State Police to be searched by a directed communication to the State Police for stolen or wanted information on the vehicle.  When the State Police files are searched with negative results, the information contained in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) files will be searched by the State Police.  The information determined from these record searches will be returned to the requesting law enforcement agency for that agency’s use in sending a notification by certified mail to the registered owner, lienholder and other legally entitled persons advising where the vehicle is held, requesting a disposition be made and setting forth public sale information.  Notification shall be sent no later than ten (10) business days after the date the law enforcement agency impounds or authorizes the impounding of a vehicle, provided that if the law enforcement agency is unable to determine the identity of the registered owner, lienholder or other person legally entitled to ownership of the impounded vehicle within a ten (10) business day period after impoundment, then notification shall be sent no later than two (2) days after the date the identity of the registered owner, lienholder or other person legally entitled to ownership of the impounded vehicle is determined.  Exceptions to a notification by certified mail to the registered owner, lienholder and other legally entitled persons are set forth in 625 ILCS 5/4-209.

       (C)               When ownership information is needed for a towing service to give notification as required under this Code, the towing service may cause the vehicle registration records of the State of Illinois to be searched by the Secretary of State.

The written request of a towing service, in the form and containing the information prescribed by the Secretary of State by rule, may be transmitted to the Secretary of State in person, by U.S. Mail or other delivery service, by facsimile transmission, or by other means the Secretary of State deems acceptable.

The Secretary of State shall provide the required information, or a statement that the information was not found in the vehicle registration records of the State, by U.S. Mail or other delivery service, facsimile transmission, as requested by the towing service, or by other means acceptable to the Secretary of State.

       (D)               The Secretary of State may prescribe standards and procedures for submission of requests for record searches and replies via computer link.

       (E)               Fees for services provided under this Section shall be in amounts prescribed by the Secretary of State under Section 3-821.1 of the Illinois Municipal Code.  Payment may be made by the towing service using cash, any commonly accepted credit card, or any other means of payment deemed acceptable by the Secretary of State.  (625 ILCS 5/4-205)

       24-7-6        IDENTIFYING AND TRACING OF VEHICLE.  When the registered owner, lienholder or other person legally entitled to the possession of a vehicle cannot be identified from the registration files of this State or from the registration files of a foreign state, if applicable, the law enforcement agency having custody of the vehicle shall notify the State Police, for the purpose of identifying the vehicle owner or other person legally entitled to the possession of the vehicle.  The information obtained by the State Police will be immediately forwarded to the law enforcement agency having custody of the vehicle for notification purposes as set forth in Section 24-7-5 of this Code.  (625 ILCS 5/4-206)

       24-7-7           RECLAIMED VEHICLES; EXPENSES.

       (A)               Any time before a vehicle is sold at public sale or disposed of as provided in Section 24-7-8, the owner, lienholder or other person legally entitled to its possession may reclaim the vehicle by presenting to the law enforcement agency having custody of the vehicle proof of ownership or proof of the right to possession of the vehicle.

       (B)               No vehicle shall be released to the owner, lienholder, or other person under this Section until all towing, storage, and processing charges have been paid.  (625 ILCS 5/4-207)

       24-7-8         DISPOSAL OF UNCLAIMED VEHICLE.

       (A)               When an abandoned, lost, stolen or unclaimed vehicle seven (7) years of age or newer remains unclaimed by the registered owner, lienholder or other legally entitled person for a period of thirty (30) days after notice has been given as provided in Sections 24-7-5 and 24-7-6 of this Article, the law enforcement agency or towing service having possession of the vehicle shall cause it to be sold at public auction to a person licensed as an automotive parts recycler, rebuilder or scrap processor under Article 5 of Chapter 625 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes or the towing operator which towed the vehicle.  Notice of the time and place of the sale shall be posted in a conspicuous place for at least ten (10) days prior to the sale on the premises where the vehicle has been impounded.  At least ten (10) days prior to the sale, the law enforcement agency where the vehicle is impounded, or the towing service where the vehicle is impounded, shall cause a notice of the time and place of the sale to be sent by certified mail to the registered owner, lienholder, or other legally entitled persons.  Notice as provided in Sections 24-7-5 and 24-7-6 of this Article as provided in this Section shall state the time and place of sale and shall contain a complete description of the vehicle to be sold and what steps must be taken by any legally entitled persons to reclaim the vehicle.

       (B)               If an abandoned, lost, stolen, or unclaimed vehicle displays dealer plates, notice under this Section and Section 24-7-9 of this Code shall be sent to both the dealer and the registered owner, lienholder, or other legally entitled persons.

       (C)               In those instances where the certified notification specified in Section 24-7-5 and 24-7-6 of this Article has been returned by the postal authorities to the law enforcement agency or towing service, the sending of a second certified notice will not be required.  (625 ILCS 5/4-208)

       24-7-9        DISPOSAL OF UNCLAIMED VEHICLES WITHOUT NOTICE.

       (A)               New Car. When the identity of the registered owner, lienholder, or other person legally entitled persons of an abandoned, lost, or unclaimed vehicle of seven (7) years of age or newer cannot be determined by any means provided for in this Article, the vehicle may be sold as provided for in Section 24-7-8 without notice to any person whose identity cannot be determined.

       (B)               Old Car. When an abandoned vehicle of more than seven (7) years of age is impounded as specified by this Article, or when any such vehicle is towed at the request or with the consent of the owner or operator and is subsequently abandoned, it will be kept in custody or storage for a minimum of ten (10) days for the purpose of determining the identity of the registered owner, lienholder, or other legally entitled persons and contacting the registered owner, lienholder, or other legally entitled persons by the U.S. Mail, public service or in person for a determination of disposition; and an examination of the State Police stolen vehicle files for theft and wanted information.  At the expiration of the ten (10) day period, without the benefit of disposition information being received from the registered owner, lienholder, or other legally entitled persons, the vehicle may be disposed of in either of the following ways:

              (1)     The law enforcement agency having jurisdiction will authorize the disposal of the vehicle as junk or salvage.

              (2)     The towing service may sell the vehicle in the manner provided in Section 24-7-8 of this Article, provided that the paragraph shall not apply to vehicles towed by order or authorization of a law enforcement agency.

       (C)               Antique Vehicle. A vehicle classified as an antique vehicle, custom vehicle, or street rod may, however, be sold to a person desiring to restore it. (625 ILCS Sec. 5/4-209)

       24-7-10      DISPOSAL OF HAZARDOUS DILAPIDATED MOTOR VEHICLES.  Any hazardous dilapidated motor vehicle impounded pursuant to the provisions of this Article and 65 ILCS 5/11-40-3.1, whether impounded at a public facility or on the property of private towing service, shall be kept in custody for a period of ten (10) days for the purpose of determining the identity of the registered owner or lienholder and contacting such owner or lienholder, if known, by regular U.S. Mail.  At the expiration of the ten (10) day period, without benefit of disposition information being received from the registered owner or lienholder, the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction will authorize the disposal of the vehicle as junk.  (65 ILCS 5/4-209.1) 

          24-7-11      COLLECTION OF UNPAID CHARGES.  In an action to collect towing, storage, and processing charges that remain unpaid after disposition of a vehicle towed or relocated under this Code, the towing service may recover reasonable collection costs.

       24-7-12      POLICE RECORD FOR DISPOSED VEHICLE.  When a vehicle in the custody of the County or law enforcement agency is reclaimed by the registered owner, lienholder or other legally entitled person, or when the vehicle is sold at public sale or otherwise disposed of as provided in this Article, a report of the transaction will be maintained by that law enforcement agency for a period of one (1) year from the date of the sale or disposal. (625 ILCS 5/4-210)

       24-7-13      PUBLIC SALE PROCEEDS; DISPOSITION OF.

       (A)               When a vehicle located within the corporate limits is authorized to be towed away by a law enforcement agency having jurisdiction and disposed of as set forth in this Article, the proceeds of the public sale or disposition after the deduction of towing, storage and processing charges shall be deposited in the treasury of the County.

       (B)               The provisions of this Section shall not apply to vehicles disposed of or sold at public sale under subsection (k) of 625 ILCS 5/4-107 of the Illinois Vehicle Code.  (625 ILCS 5/4-211) 

       24-7-14      LIABILITY OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS.

       (A)               A law enforcement officer or agency, a department of municipal government designated under 625 ILCS 5/4-212.1 or its officers or employees, or a towing service owner, operator, or employee shall not be held to answer or be liable for damages in any action brought by the registered owner, former registered owner, or his legal representative, lienholder or any other person legally entitled to the possession of a vehicle when the vehicle was processed and sold or disposed of as provided by this Article.

       (B)               A towing service, and any of its officers or employees, that removes or tows a vehicle as a result of being directed to do so by a law enforcement officer or agency or a department of municipal government or its officers or employees shall not be held to answer or be liable for injury to, loss of, or damages to any real or personal property that occurs in the course of the removal or towing of a vehicle or its contents on a limited access highway in a designated Incident Management Program that uses fast lane clearance techniques as defined by the Department of Transportation.  (625 ILCS 5/4-213)

       24-7-15      VIOLATIONS OF ARTICLE.

       (A)               Any person who violates Section 24-7-1 of this Article or who aids and abets in that violation:

              (1)     shall be subject to a mandatory fine of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00); and

              (2)     shall be required by the court to make a disposition on the abandoned or unclaimed vehicle and pay all towing, storage,
and processing charges and collection costs pursuant to Section 24-7-3(A) and (E).

       (B)               When a vehicle is abandoned, it shall be presumed that the last registered owner is responsible for the abandonment and shall be liable for all towing, storage, and processing charges and collection costs, less any amounts realized in the disposal of the vehicle.  The last registered owner’s liability for storage fees may not exceed a maximum of thirty (30) days’ storage fees.

The presumption established under this paragraph may be rebutted by a showing that, prior to the time of the tow:

              (1)     a report of vehicle theft was filed with respect to the vehicle; or

              (2)     the vehicle was sold or transferred and the last registered owner provides the towing service with the correct identity and address of the new owner at the time of the sale or transfer.

If the presumption established under this Section is rebutted, the person responsible for theft of the vehicle or to whom the vehicle was sold or transferred is liable for all towing, storage, and processing charges and collection costs.  (625 ILCS 5/4-214)