Getting towed is one of the most inconvenient things for a car owner. Whenever you find yourself in such a situation, there is often a sense of urgency to get it back as soon as possible. The last thing you want is for the towing company to keep your car for an extended period. That being said, how long can they legally hold your vehicle? To answer this question, we first need to understand what type of tow truck service has been utilized.
Why was my car towed?
There are four types of tows: consumer towing, private property impound (PPI), repossession impound, and police-ordered.
Consumer towing is when a car has been towed due to illegal parking or an unsafe driving situation. The other ones involve your vehicle being removed from either a private lot or one that requires the car owner’s consent, such as a storage facility.
Private property impound (PPI)
A PPI will tow a car if the owner has not paid their parking fees on did not receive permission to park their vehicle on private property. The vehicle may also have been abandoned for several days, which results in its removal from the lot. The owner requests a tow truck driver rather than a police officer.
This is when the repossession company has towed a car after taking ownership of it through a court order. It could happen because of failure to meet your loan payments or default on storage fees.
A vehicle may also be taken into custody if it has been involved in an accident or is illegally parked on a public roadway and poses a threat to others. Certain conditions must be met before this type of tow can occur, such as a vehicle towed from the highway.
Can a tow company keep my car?
A tow company can legally keep your vehicle for an extended period, but not indefinitely. There is usually a towing fee once a car has been impounded. The sooner you get your vehicle out of impoundment, the better. Fees accumulate for each day your car is held there. If you can get your car and pay later, get your car. The longer it sits, the higher the bill. If fees are not paid, then the towing company can legally sell parts or your whole vehicle to cover fees and costs.
How long before a tow company releases my car?
The period a tow company keeps your car varies depending on whether or not it is contracted with your insurance company. If you are not at fault for the accident or incident, they cannot charge for storage if it has been less than four days since the tow took place. Let us look at the different scenarios:
Private Party Impound (PPI)
If your car has been towed from a private lot, such as an apartment complex or shopping center, the towing company is not allowed to keep it for more than four days unless the owner of the property requests that they do so. On the fifth day, you can file a complaint against tow companies with local police and request they return your towed vehicle.
This is when your vehicle has been towed without you giving consent, resulting in it being placed into the non-consent inventory of a towing company. If this occurs, they are allowed up to six days or until 30 days after recorded possession before returning it to you.
This involves a tow truck driver pulling the vehicle from a lot with the owner’s consent. If there is no violation of any law or ordinance, they are allowed up to seven days before returning it. If you feel that the storage fees for this type of tow were not lawfully charged, file your complaint with the local police department.
Suppose your vehicle has been towed by order of a police officer. In that case, they are not allowed to keep it for more than 30 days unless there is an ongoing investigation that requires further evidence or information from your car. The city can hold onto it longer if necessary in this case. If a hearing has not been scheduled within 30 days, you can file a motion with the court to request it be released.
How can I get my vehicle released?
Suppose you are not at fault for the violation against you. The only way to get your car from the towing companies is to pay the requested fees. These will include storage fees, impound fees, towing fees, and administrative charges. In that case, they cannot charge storage fees after four days unless there is a written agreement between yourself and the property owner or management company authorizing them to do so.
Can I take a towing company to court?
If you believe that the storage charges were unlawfully charged, file a complaint with local authorities and request that your vehicle be released to you without paying any money. You can also pursue further legal action through the civil court by filing a lawsuit against the two truck companies for illegally holding onto your car. You may receive damages as restitution for the time you have lost or other expenses that occurred while your vehicle was in their possession.
Need a tow?
If you ever find yourself stranded in the middle of the highway, Pepes Towing is here to help! Whether it is a flat tire, broken down engine, or an accident, we offer emergency towing services in Fontana to get you back on the road quickly and safely. Just give us a call, and a tow truck will be deployed to your location in no time!