Don’t Run Into Problems With Towing Laws
If you own a business, or you own property, it’s going to happen: People you don’t know, or who you didn’t authorize, will park in your parking spaces. When that happens, it may be time to call the towing company. To avoid problems, here’s a short primer on towing laws, and your right as a property owner to remove vehicles from your property.
These laws have nothing to do with towing related to repossessions, or to emergency responders, who tow vehicles.
Can You Tow?
As a property owner, you do have the right to tow vehicles off of your property that don’t belong there or which you didn’t authorize to be there. You are immune for being sued for any damages that happen to the vehicles being towed, so long as you use an authorized towing service (that means, call a real company, not your uncle with a truck). You also are not liable for any storage fees for the vehicle.
Contacting the Police
The towing company is responsible for contacting the local police, and informing them of the vehicle that they towed, and where it is located. If the vehicle owner does contact you, you can direct them to the local police department. The towing company has 30 minutes to contact the police after towing a car.
It is against the law for you to pay a towing service, or for a service to pay you to tow vehicles.
Notices on the Property
Vehicle owners have a right to know certain things about your property, and specifically, about where vehicles can and cannot park (however, the notice requirements don’t apply when a car is parked in a way that blocks the right-of-way, access to a private driveway, or which affects the normal operations of your business activities).
Notices on your property must include the following information:
- In 4-inch or higher letters, the words “tow away zone” must be posted. Additionally, in letters 2-inches or higher, and in letters that contrast with the background, and which are light-reflective, notice that vehicles will be towed at the owner’s expense must be posted. The contact information for whomever tows vehicles must also be posted, as well as the name.
- These signs have to be between 3-6 feet off the ground, and have to be there for at least 24 hours before you can start towing vehicles. They must be at every place that the lot can be accessed, or at every space that is prohibited (access curbs). If there is no actual curb to post on or nearby, there must be one sign for every 25 feet.
- Businesses that have fewer than 20 spaces have things a little easier: they only need to display a sign that says “reserved parking for customers only unauthorized vehicles will be towed at the owner’s expense,” in reflective letters that are 4-inches or larger.
Note that often, municipalities may have their own rules about towing signs and warnings, and may require an inspection of the signs, before you are allowed to start towing people.
Call the West Palm Beach business litigation attorneys at Pike & Lustig today to help you with the everyday decisions in your business.