Busting Towing Myths


Having your car towed, hopefully, is not a frequent event but if you haven’t called for road service, it can be rather alarming to watch the back end of your car fading in the distance behind a tow truck. The following information was written as guidance for Florida residents, but gives you a good rule of thumb for what is myth and what is fact about what a road service tow truck operator can or can’t do with your vehicle.

Myth: If a tow truck driver sees that you are parked illegally and starts to approach your car, he or she has the right to tow it at that point.

Fact: If you reach your car before the tow truck driver has physically connected your vehicle to the tow truck, he or she cannot tow your car and cannot charge you a fee.

Myth: If you reach your car after the driver has hooked it to the tow truck, he or she has the right to take it to the towing lot.

Fact: If your car is still on the lot where you parked it, the tow truck driver must release your vehicle, provided you give him or her half of the standard towing fee on the spot. Myth: If a tow truck driver damages your car while transporting it, you have to pay to fix it.

Fact: Tow companies are liable for any damages they cause. It is illegal for a tow company to force you to sign a document waiving its liability before it gives you your car back. Property managers who have contracts with the tow companies are not liable for damages.

Myth: Apartment complexes and businesses get paid in kickbacks when you get towed.

Fact: Contracts between towing companies and property management cannot, by law, include any monetary exchange. Transfer of funds is a third-degree felony.

Myth: If you get towed late at night, the towing lot may be closed and you will have to wait until the next day to get your vehicle.

Fact: By law, all towing lots must be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. After those hours, a sign must be posted with the phone number of the towing operator. You can call that number at any time, and the operator must show up to give you back your car within one hour. If the operator doesn’t show up, he or she has committed a third-degree felony.

Myth: A tow truck driver can’t break into your car to tow it.

Fact: Legally, the driver can. But he or she has to use “reasonable care” and can only enter your vehicle for the purpose of removing it from the lot.

Myth: If it’s late at night and a business is closed, you can park there if it’s convenient and then walk to wherever you are going.

Fact: Property managers can be held liable for an accident that happens in their lot, even if it happens outside of their business hours. So if you are not a customer, they don’t want you there. Most towing companies will not hesitate to tow your vehicle 24/7.

Posted on Friday, March 30th, 2007 at 2:19 am In Road Service  

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