FAQs

tow truck

TOWING AND PARKING FAQ’S

Q. If my car has been towed, how can I find it?
Q. Can I be towed from the parking lot of a closed business?
Q. Why would a business care about parking in the lot when it’s closed?
Q. When towed from private property, how much can a tow company charge to release my car from impoundment?
Q. Do tow truck drivers have to wait for the property owner to request the tow? Is patrolling the lot legal?
Q. My car was damaged during the tow, and the lot employee would not let me file a damage claim. What should I do?
Q. Why don’t cities force businesses to share parking outside of normal business hours?
Q. If I return before the tow truck removes my car; do I still have to pay?
Q. Can a tow company only accept cash, and refuse to accept a credit card?
Q. What should I do if I think I have been overcharged or towed illegally?
Q. Who decides when a vehicle should be towed?
Q. How does a driver know that towing is enforced on a property?
Q. When can a towing company tow a vehicle without the owner’s consent?

A. To locate your towed vehicle, you can contact the local Police Department’s non-emergency phone number. The Police Department will tell you if your car has been reported as towed by a private towing company. All towing companies are required to report vehicles towed to local governing police department. A vehicle storage facility accepting a vehicle that is towed under this chapter shall within two hours after receiving the vehicle report to the police department of the municipality from which the vehicle was towed, or, if the vehicle was towed from a location that is not in a municipality with a police department, to the sheriff of the county from which the vehicle was towed.

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A. Yes. The contract between a property owner and a tow operator may provide for towing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, whether the business is open or not.

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A. Some businesses cite liability issues (e.g., car gets damaged while parked on its property; items are stolen from a vehicle parked on its property). The other most frequently voiced concern is that vehicles may be left overnight, and customer parking will not be available when the business opens.

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A. There are towing fee maximums set by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations, see (http://www.license.state.tx.us/towing/towinglaw.htm#2308204) Municipalities can also set tow charge maximums. The towing company must comply with the stricter of the two ordinances/laws. It should be noted that your total payout could legally exceed the state or municipal maximums due to storage fees. The towing fee caps set by local or state governing bodies do NOT apply to storage fees. For example, the maximum impound fee is $20 and the maximum nightly storage fee for a standard size vehicle is $20, these costs to the vehicle owner are not included in the towing price ceiling since they are not related to the towing of a vehicle.

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A. There is no law prohibiting tow operators from monitoring lots. The contract with the property owner governs the terms of the tow.

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A. Most likely, you will end up filing with your insurance company and/or taking the matter to civil court. However, see local municipal code regarding damage claims. It should be noted that many tow companies use video cameras on both their trucks and vehicle storage facilities to protect themselves from bogus claims.

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A. Cities do not have the authority to tell private property owners how to control their property. Many cities encourage businesses to share parking, and some successful arrangements are in place.

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A. Yes, however you can pay only the drop fee if your vehicle hasn’t been towed. There are drop fee maximums set by the State and some municipalities. Please see (http://www.license.state.tx.us/towing/towinglaw.htm#2308204) for current price caps. You can also search your municipalities’ codes for price caps.

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A. The operator of a vehicle storage facility shall accept payment by an electronic check, debit card, or credit card for any charge associated with delivery or storage of a vehicle.

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A. If your car has been towed from private property and you think you have been overcharged, or if you have a complaint about damage, employee behavior or signage at the tow location, contact the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

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A. Removal of trespassing vehicles from private property may be done by verbal request or by written agreement between the private property owner and a tow truck service.

If the vehicle is towed by verbal request of the property owner, the call to the tow truck service must be made by an authorized staff member or owner. The towing company must have it’s signs legally posted at least 24 hours in advance of a tow and must have a contract with the property owner or manager.

If a written agreement exists, the property owner may designate a tow truck service to monitor the lot and remove any vehicle which meets the definition of trespassing as defined in the written agreement.

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A. Signs must be posted at all entrances to the premises alerting drivers that trespassing vehicles will be towed at the expense of the vehicle owner or custodian. See http://www.license.state.tx.us/towing/towinglaw.htm#2308301 for specific dimensions and details about signage and location of signage.

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A.  A towing company that is insured as provided by Subsection (c) may, without the consent of an owner or operator of an unauthorized vehicle, remove and store the vehicle at a vehicle storage facility at the expense of the owner or operator of the vehicle if: (1) the towing company has received written verification from the parking facility owner that: (A) the parking facility owner has installed the signs required by Section 2308.252(a)(1); or (B) the owner or operator received notice under Section 2308.252(a)(2) or the parking facility owner gave notice complying with Section 2308.252(a)(3); or

(2) on request the parking facility owner provides to the owner or operator of the vehicle information on the name of the towing company and vehicle storage facility that will be used to remove and store the vehicle and the vehicle is: (A) left in violation of Section 2308.251; or (B) in or obstructing a portion of a paved driveway or abutting public roadway used for entering or exiting the facility and the removal is approved by a peace officer.

(b) A towing company may not remove an unauthorized vehicle except under: (1) this chapter; (2) a municipal ordinance that complies with Section 2308.208; or (3) the direction of a peace officer or the owner or operator of the vehicle.

(c) Only a towing company that is insured against liability for property damage incurred in towing a vehicle may remove and store an unauthorized vehicle under this section.

(d) A towing company may remove and store a vehicle under Subsection (a) only if the parking facility owner: (1) requests that the towing company remove and store the specific vehicle; or (2) has a standing written agreement with the towing company to enforce parking restrictions in the parking facility from which the vehicle will be removed.

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