Car got towed? You have rights!

If you are like me, most people don’t really expect their car to get towed. If they did, they probably would not have parked there. Now, some of us do stretch the rules, but most of us obey the laws and act accordingly.  For that reason, the folks at the Rambling Wrecker  in Lynchburg, Virginia wanted to share the most common rules that regulate towing services around the country.  be advised, however, that this is not legal advice and the laws could be different in your area.

The following rules apply for property owners:

  • The property owner must post a warning sign of at least 17’’x22’’ with 1’’ letters saying that parking is prohibited and that cars will be towed if parked there.
  • The sign must also include the number of the local police as well as the name and number of the towing company allowed to tow the vehicles there.
  • The only cases in which no sign is required for towing is when the vehicle has a notice issued for parking violations from at least four days prior to the tow, if the vehicle is missing major parts or if the property is a single-family dwelling.

For vehicle owners the following rights apply:

  • You are within your rights to contact the towing company and schedule the vehicle’s release at any time during the day. .
  • You are expected to pay no more than the lawful maximum fees to tow and store your car.
  • If you were to return to your vehicle before it has been towed, you are within your rights to have the car released from the tow truck and you will only pay half the towing fee.
  • You can pay with cash or credit and the towing company is required to have enough change for you in case you decide to pay them with cash.

Here are also some of the most commonly asked questions about towing rights:

How am I supposed to know when my car was towed?

In some jurisdictions, but not all, the private property owner is legally required to notify the police within one hour of authorizing the tow, The towing company is also legally required to notify the police no later than 30 minutes after removing the car or 15 minutes after arriving at the storage facility. This must be done whichever is earlier.

What if I came back when they were still hooking up my vehicle? Can they still tow it?

No, if you return to your car and it is hooked up but has not left the property, you are within your rights to have the car released from the tow truck and, as mentioned before, you’re only required to pay HALF THE NORMAL TOWING FEE.  

Who can authorize my car to be towed?

Your car can only be towed from the private property by the property owner, the commercial tenant or their employee, or the tenant of an apartment building of fewer than 15 units which does not have an on-site manager; this last case only applies if that tenant provides a written request to the property owner within the 24 hours of towing the vehicle that the car was parked in their assigned parking space, and only if the property owner provides a statement to the towing company stating that it is authorized within the 48 hours of the towing happening.

The written authorization for towing must include the following:

  • Make, model, VIN, license number of the vehicle
  • Name, signature, job title, residential or business address
  • Working telephone number of the person who authorizes the towing
  • The reason for towing the vehicle
  • Time in which the vehicle was first observed illegally parked on the property
  • Time in which the authorization to tow was given.

What if my vehicle was towed in the middle of the night and no one signed the authorization?

Here are the exceptions that may apply in a case in which the signature is not required:

  • The vehicle was parked on private property and the owner signed a “general authorization” with the towing company. This said, remember that you are within your rights to ask for a free photocopy of a photo that shows the violation at the time you claim your vehicle and also you may ask for a copy of the General Authorization agreement that the company has with the property owner.

Remember that here at the Rambling Wrecker, we strive to not only provide our customers with reliable, secure and efficient roadside assistance but also want to educate and help you be able to deal with the situations that affects your life. Have any questions regarding your towing rights? Need help? Just call us and we’ll help you right away. We got your back!