Illinois Senate to consider bill that would make EV chargers more accessible

As electric vehicle charging networks are taking shape across the country and in Illinois, state Sen. Dan McConchie wants to ensure the infrastructure is accessible to all drivers.

With accessibility regulations for electric vehicle chargers still in progress at the federal level, current stations often are inaccessible to drivers with disabilities. McConchie first caught wind of the issue when he heard from the attorney general’s office that one Illinois resident who uses a wheelchair had bought a Tesla and had it outfitted so it could be used — but could not find a publicly available charger nearby that was accessible to wheelchair users.

“Both the federal government and the state is putting a lot of money into expanding our EV charging network across the state. We should make sure we do this right in the first place, especially if we're going to be using taxpayer dollars in order to help roll this out,” said McConchie, a Hawthorn Woods Republican. “We should make sure that these are accessible to anybody who would need to use them.”

Illinois Sen. Dan McConchie

McConchie’s bill would take the accessibility rules that are being proposed at the federal level and put them into state law. If passed, the legislation would require the Illinois Department of Transportation to ensure charging stations “are sufficiently accessible to allow independent use by drivers with disabilities, including people who have limited or no hand dexterity, limb differences, or upper extremity amputations and use adaptive driving controls,” according to the bill text.

The bill is silent on whether the rules would apply retroactively to existing chargers.

“It would be my hope that companies who have installed existing units would go back and make sure that there is some accessibility, because at some point I do suspect that there will be some retroactivity down the road, even if it's not immediate,” McConchie said.

The senator added that Illinois would be among the first states to pass accessibility rules for EV chargers, alongside California and Colorado.

“This is what happens with new technology: Something new comes up, you can't think of every eventuality as you're starting, and as it begins to really take hold and progress, we begin to see some of the issues and begin to fine tune,” he said. “It's not unusual that this has occurred, but it does look like we're going to be a leader on this issue as far as this rollout across the country and I'm just excited at the prospect of Illinois being one of the first states to really, I think, do this right.”

The bill unanimously cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, and likely will go before the full Senate for a vote next week.

• Jenny Whidden is a climate change and environment writer working with the Daily Herald through a partnership with Report For America supported by The Nature Conservancy. To help support her work with a tax-deductible donation, see

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