Every year, the City tows approximately 100,000 vehicles for a variety of reasons. The City tows illegally parked vehicles, abandoned vehicles and vehicles used for illegal activity such as prostitution. By towing illegally parked vehicles, the City ensures the free flow of traffic in our City. The City’s towing program not only produces revenue, but also helps improve the quality of life in Chicago communities by ensuring that abandoned vehicles do not become eyesores and that drivers think twice before using their vehicles to engage in illegal activity.
The owners of vehicles towed for parking violations must pay a towing fee, pound storage fees and any applicable parking tickets. The owners of vehicles impounded for illegal activity must also pay a fine.
In June 2016, the City awarded United Road Towing, Inc., a contract to provide towing services and manage five of the City's auto pounds.
The company is responsible for towing vehicles to City pounds when requested to do so by the City, and for staffing five City pounds. URT does not determine which vehicles should be towed. Vehicles are only towed if the Departments of Finance, Police, Streets and Sanitation, Aviation or the Office of the City Clerk in the form of a written tow report request a tow. In addition, the City, not URT, is responsible for notifying the vehicle owner of the tow. URT has GPS on all of their tow trucks, and those of their subcontractors. This gives them the ability to tell where a towed vehicle is at any given time.
The City pays URT a fee for each tow and a fee for managing the auto pounds. When vehicles remain unclaimed at the pounds, the City turns the vehicles over to URT as scrap. URT pays the City a contractual price for those vehicles.
City's Towing Process
Vehicle tow requests can be made by the Chicago Police Department, the Department of Streets and Sanitation, the Department of Finance, Aviation and the office of the City Clerk. After a vehicle is requested towed by a City department, a stock number is assigned by the Department of Streets and Sanitation, and a tow truck is dispatched to tow the requested vehicle.
Upon arrival at the designated pound, the vehicle is inspected and the tow report is reviewed to verify the correct vehicle is being impounded. The vehicle is dropped in the yard and an inventory of the vehicle is performed. The inventory consists of a visual inspection of the vehicle recording what is seen on a Motor Vehicle Inventory Report.
The vehicle information is recorded in the Chicago Police Hot Desk to check for a stolen vehicle report and to enter the vehicle as a towed vehicle. Ownership information is retrieved from the Secretary of State and LEADS. The paperwork for the vehicle is forwarded to the City's auto pound office for notification purposes to owners, lien holders or authorized agents.
The vehicle is stored at the pound accruing fees until redeemed by persons showing proof of ownership. If the vehicle is not redeemed after waiting the time required by ordinance, the vehicle information is checked through the hot desk a final time.
If the vehicle is not reported stolen and the owner information is not changed, the vehicle is placed on a contract sale list.
The auto pounds are equipped with security cameras to assist in securing the vehicles and facility.
The City and URT make every effort to ensure that vehicles are not damaged during the tow. If any vehicle is damaged while being towed by URT or damaged at a pound managed by URT, URT is responsible for paying the claim.
The owner of an impounded vehicle is entitled to a post-tow hearing to contest the validity of the tow and any towing or storage fees. You can request a hearing when you redeem your vehicle or if you have already claimed your vehicle you may visit the nearest auto pound within 15 days of the release and request a hearing. Please understand that you must attend the hearing to contest the tow. All hearings are conducted in person by the Department of Administrative Hearings at 400 West Superior.