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Vehicle Impound FAQs

What are the different types of towing?

CONSENT TOWING (with your permission): When your vehicle breaks down or you get stuck in a ditch, you call a tow truck to pull you out or take your vehicle to a repair shop. In these cases, you can negotiate a price while you are discussing the use of the towing services. We strongly encourage citizens to negotiate a price prior to the towing of a vehicle.

NON-CONSENT TOWING (without your permission): Non-Consent towing can occur when a person leaves a vehicle parked or unattended in an unauthorized parking area such as someone’s private property, a business parking lot or blocking the right of way. The business parking lot must display a legal sized sign about no parking; the sign should display the name and phone number of the towing company.

Another example of non-consent towing is a police-ordered action. For instance, if a vehicle has been stolen and left abandoned, used in a crime or involved in an accident and the owner/driver was unable to direct the police to where they wanted the vehicle towed. At that time, the vehicle would be towed by direction of the police.

How do I know whether my vehicle was towed or my vehicle was stolen?

When you discover that your vehicle is not where you left it, you should check and see if a warning or no parking sign was posted in the area where you had parked. If there is a sign stating anything about towing, there will be a phone number that you can contact the towing company. If you do not see a sign or other warning, you will have to call the police department having jurisdiction of the area to inquire if it was towed.

Be sure to have your vehicle information at hand, such as the make and model of vehicle, license plate number, color and the vehicle identification number (VIN). The police department can tell you whether your vehicle has been towed at their direction and authority.

How do I know whether my vehicle was towed or my vehicle was repossessed?

All towing companies are mandated to report private property tows and or repossessions to law enforcement. Normally apartment complexes and businesses will display private property towing information on their property, because in the state of Texas, it is a state law to provide notice. Should you be in this dilemma, contact your local police department for assistance.

What is a tow spotter?

Some towing companies have employees called “spotters.” They patrol parking lots and call tow trucks when they observe illegal parking violations on their contract properties. Spotters are there to make certain that only patrons doing business use the business parking lot spaces.

My vehicle was towed by a police officer without my consent, now what?

Your vehicle may have been towed at the direction of the “on-scene” law enforcement officer, if you were not at the scene at the time the tow was required. The officer who was there made the choice to safeguard the public and your vehicle. Contact the police department having jurisdiction of the area where your vehicle was towed from.

My vehicle was towed without my consent from a private property open to the public, now what?

The property owner or management office should know who did the towing. Properties open to the public are mandated to give notice of the possible violation using posted signs. These signs are required to have the proper language, parking conditions or violation phone number of the towing company.

Where has my vehicle been taken?

Your vehicle was taken to a safe location called a Vehicle Storage Facility. The name and address will be given to you when you contact the tow company or if your vehicle was impounded by police action, the local police dispatch operator will provide you the location and phone number as soon as they have the information. You can call Travis County Non-Emergency Dispatch at 512-974-0845, Option 3.

How much will it cost to get my vehicle back?

There may be a posted sign at the site from where your vehicle was taken that will tell you which towing company has your vehicle. You must know there is going to be a charge for towing the vehicle and there is a charge for storing the vehicle. As you can expect, the longer the vehicle is in storage the more it will cost. Texas law states that a vehicle storage facility operator may not charge less than $5.00 or more than $20.00 for each day or part of a day for storage of a vehicle that is 25 feet or less in length. There may be some other charges. You can review the schedule of fees on our Vehicle Impound page.

What if my vehicle is at the storage facility less than 12 hours?

If your vehicle is held less than 12 hours you are in luck. Even though the storage facility operator is allowed to charge a fee for part of a day, if the vehicle is at the storage facility less than 12 hours you can only be charged for one day of storage. Keep in mind that a “day” in the world of towing is considered to begin and end at midnight.

What if I get my vehicle from the storage facility within 24 hours from the time it was towed?

The storage facility operator cannot charge you a notification fee if the vehicle is removed from the storage facility within 24 hours after the date the operator received the vehicle. However, you will be charged a regular storage fee.

Can someone pick up my vehicle for me?

The owner can pick up a vehicle if they have proper identification. That means that the address on the identification matches the address that the tow company has received from their records check. Another authorized person may pick up the vehicle for you if they have a “RIGHT OF POSSESSION FORM” [TDLR FORM 1845]. Be aware that the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation form must be notarized showing the holder of the form is the authorized representative of the owner and that representative must have proper identification. The lienholder of the vehicle must show a “lien affidavit” which can be obtained from the dealership in order to take possession of the vehicle.

Am I subject to an impound fee?

Yes. The storage facility operator can charge an impound fee of $20.00. This impound fee is for any preservation, restoration, or inventory they did on the vehicle. The impound must be performed in accordance with the regulations as directed by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation [TDLR, Adm. Code, [g] 18.93]. NOTE: THE IMPOUND FEE IS IN ADDITION TO THE TOWING FEE AND ANY STORAGE OR NOTIFICATION FEES THAT MAY APPLY TO YOUR VEHICLE.

What else can I be billed for?

When discussing non-consent towing or storage, keep in mind that you will be charged for the towing process and for any storage fees. You may have to pay a processing fee as well as “clean-up fees.” At times, tow truck drivers will have to remove auto parts from the roadway. This is usually just a part of their job and you should not be billed for that type of activity. However, there are times when you can be billed for clean-up.

For example, if you’re vehicle contained a load of materials that blocked the roadway or area that is a different matter entirely. Probably the best examples of where a clean-up fee would be allowed in non-consent towing would be if a lumber truck overturned or a person with a load of furniture in the back of a pickup was involved in an accident. In such cases, an additional fee would be justified. Also, you should not be charged for dollies in non-consent towing. You should be aware that a tow truck company is not allowed to charge you for extra time until they have been at the accident location for one hour. That is because the first hour comes with the tow.

When can I decide where my vehicle is towed?

If your vehicle is being towed with your consent, you can certainly tell the tow truck driver where you want the vehicle deposited. All the fees will become your responsibility or that of your insurance company. In a non-consent tow, you have no choice because you were not there and somebody else made the choice for you.

What happens if my vehicle has been damaged by the tow company?

Before you pick up your vehicle, if you request it, the tow company will provide the opportunity for you to examine it. We encourage you to examine your vehicle and to note any damage that you consider having been caused by the tow company.

Should you believe they have damaged your vehicle, allow the towing company to resolve the matter. Be aware that the driver of the tow truck probably took pictures or a video of your vehicle before it was towed. This is wise and is an attempt to limit the liability of the tow truck company. This also provides the vehicle owner with information on the vehicle’s condition. You may want to ask to see these pictures before you think about making a claim.

When an agreement cannot be reached about damage, you can file a report with your local police department. You can also contact the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation and report the situation. You may wish to take your own pictures of the vehicle before you drive away. You can request a wrecker hearing with the Travis County Justice of the Peace for the area where the vehicle was held in storage. The storage facility will provide you with a form for the action. This form will have the information you need including the cost of such service.

Will I be notified of my vehicle being in storage?

Yes. The storage facility operator will notify you that your vehicle has been towed or is in storage and where it is located. Keep in mind that a fee can be charged for the notification. According to the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation, this charge cannot be more than $50.00.

The notification must not be sent out to you until they have had your vehicle for 24 hours. In most cases, this provides the owner an opportunity to get his/her vehicle out of storage without having to pay a $50.00 notification fee. The notice must be sent to you before the end of the 5th day of storage; this is so your storage bill cannot be “run up” unjustly.

What do I tell my insurance company?

It may be to your advantage to contact your insurance company and inform them of what happened. You may have a towing allowance on your insurance policy.

What happens when out-of-state residents have their vehicles towed?

If you are from another state and you find your vehicle is missing, call the local business where the vehicle was parked to see if they had the vehicle towed or, if needed, call the local police department. Rest assure that if your vehicle was towed, you will receive a notice from the storage facility operator informing you about your vehicle.

The operator must notify you at the vehicle’s registered address; this will be done by certified mail.

What if I was driving a rental car and it was towed?

If you had rented a vehicle and the vehicle was towed, in order to get it back you will need your rental/ leasing contract showing that you rented the vehicle. You will also need proper identification.

How do I file a complaint/concern?

Complaints and concerns should be directed to the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation:

 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | 800-803-9202


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