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Published On: Thu, May 10th, 2018

Private Property Towing: Know Your Rights

Picture the scene. It’s a beautiful Friday evening in Vallejo, California. You’ve worked hard all week, and you’re meeting a few friends in a local restaurant to unwind over dinner.

The parking lot is full, though, so you park on a nearby street in a hurry. It’s dark, you’re salivating at the promise of pizza, and you’re not blocking any other vehicles.

Simple. No problem. The evening’s yours – and so is all that delicious food waiting for you.

So, you go and have dinner, you set the world to rights, and then you go back to your car.

Except … your car isn’t there. It’s been towed!

photo/ ClkerFreeVectorImages via Pixabay

Why? Because without realizing, you parked on private property. The space outside the house or apartment complex you chose isn’t for public usage, but there were no signs warning you this might be the case.

You get in touch with the towing firm that took your car, and they hit you with some bad news: they want a ridiculous amount of money before they’ll even think of giving it back. You refuse, and they tell you there’s nothing you can do. The man telling you this is big, muscular, and not the kind of unbalanced individual you want to argue with.

So, if you find yourself in a situation like this, what can you do? What rights do you have?

What can I do to get my car back when it’s towed from private property?

You have the legal right to contact the firm that towed your car to arrange its release at any time of day or night. They must accommodate your needs, and if they don’t, you may be able to report them.

Luckily, the best towing firms operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week anyway. Contacting them at your convenience shouldn’t be a problem.

You also have the right to ask for a copy of the authorization for your car to be towed. Another key right you have is to request a separate notice from the towing firm itself, carrying the number of the local police if you think the company took your car without proper cause or authorization.

What does a towing company have to do when they take my car?

In Vallejo (and all of California), the owner of the property is legally obligated to inform their local police department within a single hour of authorizing the vehicle to be removed. The towing firm themselves must inform the police within 30 minutes of taking the car away, or no more than 15 minutes of reaching their place of storage depending on which is sooner.

If neither the owner of the property or the towing company has informed the police of the car’s whereabouts, you should report them.

Your car has to be placed in storage no further than 10 miles from the property it was towed from. However, if the police allow it, they can move the vehicle to a facility further than 10 miles away.

The towing firm is obligated to give you a notice of the vehicle’s removal, with information on the reason for its towing, the time it was taken, its mileage, and the car’s stored location. If they can’t find your name or address through the DMV, they will report the car as being potentially stolen.

Still, as long as you keep the DMV updated on your current address, you’re unlikely to face any trouble.

What if I catch the tow-truck driver before they take my car?

If you’re lucky enough to reach your car while the tow-truck driver’s preparing to take it away, before the truck is on a public road, they’re legally obligated to release it as soon as you ask them to.

However, they’re allowed to ask for half of their standard towing fee too.

What signs have to be in place?

The owner of the private property has to provide adequate signage on every exit and entrance of the parking lot or space, notifying you that your vehicle will be towed at your own expense.

All signs have to measure at least 17 inches by 22 inches, with letters no smaller than one inch. They are required to carry the name and number of all towing firms which have been authorized to remove vehicles, as well as the number of the local police.

Towing Vallejo is committed to private property towing in Vallejo, California that’s fair, fast, and follows all the regulations. They can provide more information and advice on private property towing if you have questions.

Anyone who feels they may have been towed unfairly by their towing company should complain to the Better Business Bureau and contact the police.

Author: Sal’it David

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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