On a daily basis, tow truck drivers do their jobs to make sure that drivers and motorists do not end up stranded. They clear the roads of disabled vehicles to make them passable for other individuals. Unfortunately, there have been a number of cases wherein some people have dressed up as tow truck drivers to perform predatory towing. Because of this, real tow truck drivers often get blamed for their wrongful conduct and have to get the persecution from the public.
As the driver of a vehicle that was towed by a towing company, how do you know if the person you are dealing with is a real tow truck driver or not? How do you know whether or not the towing company has illegally taken your car? Here are some of the most common towing practices that are considered illegal:
Less than One-Hour
One basic rule you need to know about dealing with tow trucks is that they are supposed to follow the one-hour rule. This means that they cannot tow your vehicle if you have not yet exceeded the one-hour limit. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, especially if you have done something illegal. For instance, you should not park your vehicle within 15 feet of a fire hydrant or on a fire lane. You should also avoid parking in an area that interferes with an entrance or exit.
Another thing you have to be knowledgeable about is that towing companies have a ten-mile limit. What this means is that a towing company is not supposed to take your vehicle to a storage lot located more than ten miles from the area where it was parked.
If you encounter your vehicle being towed and the truck has not yet stepped on a public road, you are still able to demand your vehicle to be released unconditionally and immediately. You do not even need to provide your driver’s license to stop them from towing your vehicle.
Overpricing on Release Fees
Once an illegally parked vehicle is released, the towing company is entitled to get compensation for it. However, they are not supposed to charge over half of the normal towing fee they charge. To know how much the usual towing fee is in your area, you can ask local law enforcement.
No Written Consent
The law states that a towing company must be able to present written consent from the owner of the property before they start towing away vehicles. They should also wait an hour before the tow is done. The owner of the property is also requested to provide a signage of no less than 17×22 inches to be displayed visibly at all entrances to the party. The signage should include information like no public parking allowed and that any towed vehicle shall be removed at the expense of the owner. The number of the towing company and local traffic law enforcement agency should also be placed on the signage.
Once the driver pays the appropriate fees within the first 24 hours of storage, the vehicle may be released. In the event that the storage facility fails to comply or does not operate during normal business hours, they are not allowed to charge more than a day’s storage fee.
Because there has been a rampant number of cases involving illegal towing, a new law has been implemented to help protect drivers. Assembly Bill 2210 protects drivers from illegal towing. Under this law, if you see a tow truck driver removing your vehicle and if it is still within private property, the driver is supposed to release your vehicle to you unconditionally. Any tow truck operator who does not comply to this law may be subject to a fine of $2,500, a civil misdemeanor charge, and/or three months in jail.
A2210 also stipulates drivers to be able to receive up to four times of the amount they have been charged with illegally. Or in cases of excessive towing or storage fees, they can recover the amount in small claims court.
As a driver, it pays to know your rights. And by being able to comply with the law, you can protect yourself from illegal towing. The next time you spot a tow truck driver taking your vehicle, remember your rights.
Written by the staff of Tiger Towing in Columbia, MO.