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California Towing Laws

Quick Summary

New California towing laws started January 1, 2011, California consumers have the right to know facts about their towed car or vehicle and potential charges.

Tow companies that violate the law can be sued for up to $500.


There is another law setting strict requirements for tows from private property.

If the tow company follows the law they are off the hook.

If the tow company violates the law (easy to do) they owe the vehicle owner four times the amount of the tow and storage fees. The tow company could also be liable to pay attorney fees.


When Can a Car be Towed?

On private property held open to the public, such as a restaurant, there is a grace period of one hour before a vehicle can be towed.

There are exceptions. The vehicle can be immediately towed if it is parked:

In a disabled / handicapped parking space.

In a way that interferes with an entrance or exit to the property.

In a fire lane.

Within fifteen feet of a fire hydrant.
The one hour rule does not apply to residential property.

The one hour rule also does not apply to a motel or hotel where the parking slots are clearly marked for certain rooms.

The one hour period begins when the vehicle is parked. It does not start when a particular person first notices the vehicle or when a call is made to the tow company.
Example #1: a restaurant says parking in its public lot is only available for customers. Joe parks at the restaurant at 2:00 and goes shopping elsewhere. The restaurant cannot tow Joe's car until 3:00.

Example #2: At 2:00 Joe parks in the fire lane at a restaurant and goes into the restaurant to have dinner. Joe's car can be immediately towed at 2:00.
If the one hour rule is violated the person requesting the tow is liable for twice the amount of the towing and storage charges to the owner of the vehicle.



There is a 24-hour grace period before a vehicle can be towed from a parking lot.

If you overstay your time in a parking lot then you can be towed 24-hours after your time limit expires.

Note this does not mean you get to park for free for 24-hours. Parking rates continue.

The 24-hours starts when your time limit to park expires.
Example: Joe pays $20 to park his car for 4 hours in a lot. He then abandons his car. After 28 hours (4 hours paid plus 24 hours) the parking lot can tow his car.
The "parking lot" for the 24 hour rule is a parking facility. Does is not the parking lot of a local business for which the one-hour rule applies.


How Much Can a Tow Company Charge?

The towing fee for tows from private property cannot exceed the rate the towing company charges the CHP (California Highway Patrol).

Okey Dokey.

Now you are probably asking, what is the dollar amount?

Answer: who knows!

Each tow company can have a different towing rate with the CHP. The rate is not posted by the CHP anywhere. Good luck contacting anyone at CHP or in local government to find out.

After you car has been towed, and after you find out where it has been towed to, you will find the towing charge posted at the storge facility.

Wondering if the rate is too high? Good luck confirming with the CHP what the rate should be.

If you think this is a little insane it is. Please ask your legislator to change the law for better tow rate transparency.


Review and FAQ

Anyone can tow a car. No state license or registration is required. However, licensing may be required at the local or city level to operate a towing business.

The law originally began as a consumer bill of rights. But after changes were made as requested by insurance companies, the towing industry, and auto clubs, the original author of the law withdraw and was replaced, and the law was changed from referring to the 'California Consumer Bill of Rights for Towed Vehicles' to simply 'Towing Fees and Access Notice'.

The disclosures do not apply to repossessed vehicles. For repossessed cars contact your lender about getting your car or personal information out of your car.

The disclosures also do not apply to auto dealers who do not provide towing services.

The law applies to anyone privately towing a vehicle or storing a towed vehicle.

Before any towing or storage fees are paid a car owner is entitled to:

* Get their personal property that was in the car. For free.

* Request and receive all information required by the law, including a Towing Fees and Access Notice, and receive an itemized statement of actual charges.

* If a person retrieves their car from storage within 72 hours no lien fee can be charged.

* A car owner is also entitled to pay by cash or credit card.

A violation of the notice rules can require a payment of $500.



There are additional rules to have a valid tow from private commercial property. Violating these rules could require that the tow company pay four times the amount of the tow and storage fees.

The laws (below) are ridiculously long, so here is a quick list of common violations for private property tows:
1. Signage Notice About Tows

There must be appropriate signs on the property about towing.
A. Is there is sign at all entrances to the property with a tow notice?

B. Is each sign in plain view?

C. Is the sign at least 17 inches by 22 inches in size?

D. Is the lettering on the sign prohibiting public parking at least one inch high?

E. Does the sign say public parking is prohibited?

F. Does the sign say vehicles will be removed at the owner's expense?

G. Does the sign have the telephone number of the local law enforcement agency?

H. Does the sign have the name of the towing company?

I. Does the sign have the telephone number of the towing company?
2. Towing Authorization Form

The tow company will receive a form authorizing the tow.

A vehicle owner must be give a copy of this form at the time their claim their vehicle and before they pay for it.

Does the form have all of the following?
A. Is the property owner or their agent present and authorizing the tow? (presence not required for residential property with less than 15 units)

B. Did the person requesting the tow sign the authorization form?

C. Is the name of the person authorizing the tow on the form?

D. Is the signature of the person authorizing the tow on the form?

E. Is the job title of the person authorizing the tow on the form?

F. Is the business or residential address of the person authorizing the tow on the form?

G. Is the telephone number of the person authorizing the tow on the form?

H. Does the form have the make of the towed vehicle?

I. Does the form have the model of the towed vehicle?

J. Does the form have the vin (vehicle identification number) of the towed vehicle?

K. Does the form have the license plate number of the towed vehicle?

L. Is the reason for the tow on the form?

M. Is the time the vehicle was first observed parked on the property on the form?

N. Is the time that authorization was given to tow the vehicle on the form?


If there is a violation four times the amount of the tow and storage fees may be owed.

Additionally, we know a lawyer who has way of claiming attorney fees for a violation.

Paying attorney fees is a huge deal as it means a vehicle owner can get legal representation for free, and it puts significant leverage on the tow company to quickly pay if there is a violation of the law.

If you want an attorney to review your situation for free to see if you have a claim for money:

Your Name: 
Your E-Mail:  

Your Question or Issue and please identify the tow company:



For legal and practical reasons this does not create any attorney client relationship.

It is simply a review before you might retain an attorney.


One Hour Delay Before Towing

Vehicle Code Section 22953:

(a) An owner or person in lawful possession of private property that is held open to the public, or a discernible portion thereof, for parking of vehicles at no fee, or an employee or agent thereof, shall not tow or remove, or cause the towing or removal, of a vehicle within one hour of the vehicle being parked.

(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), a vehicle may be removed immediately after being illegally parked within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, in a fire lane, in a manner that interferes with an entrance to, or an exit from, the private property, or in a parking space or stall legally designated for disabled persons.

(c) Subdivision (a) does not apply to property designated for parking at residential property, or to property designated for parking at a hotel or motel where the parking stalls or spaces are clearly marked for a specific room.

(d) It is the intent of the Legislature in the adoption of subdivision (a) to avoid causing the unnecessary stranding of motorists and placing them in dangerous situations, when traffic citations and other civil remedies are available, thereby promoting the safety of the general public.

(e) A person who violates subdivision (a) is civilly liable to the owner of the vehicle or his or her agent for two times the amount of the towing and storage charges.


24-Hour Delay Before Towing

Vehicle Code Section 22952:

Every person engaged in the operation of off-street parking facilities is guilty of a violation, who:

(a) Tows or removes or authorizes the towing and removal of any vehicle within 24 hours of the expiration of the period for which a particular fee is charged. This subdivision shall not affect or limit any parking lot operator from charging parking fees in accordance with his posted schedule for the additional time such vehicle is parked.

(b) Tows or removes or authorizes the towing and removal of any vehicle when such parking facilities are held open for public use and there was no attendant on duty or other facilities permitting the patron to pay or remit the parking charges at the time such vehicle was first parked. This subdivision shall not affect or limit any parking lot operator from charging parking fees in accordance with his posted schedule for the time such vehicle is parked.


California Towing Law - Consumer Notice for Private Towing

Vehicle Code Section 22651.07:

(a) A person that charges for towing or storage, or both, except for storage unrelated to a tow, shall do all of the following:

(1)
(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), post in the office area of the storage facility, in plain view of the public, the Towing Fees and Access Notice and have copies readily available to the public.

(B) An automotive repair dealer, registered pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 9884) of Chapter 20.3 of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code, that does not provide towing services is exempt from the requirement to post the Towing Fees and Access Notice in the office area.
(2) Provide, upon request, a copy of the Towing Fees and Access Notice to any owner or operator of a towed or stored vehicle.

(3) Provide a distinct notice on an itemized invoice for any towing or storage, or both, charges stating: "Upon request, you are entitled to receive a copy of the Towing Fees and Access Notice." This notice shall be contained within a bordered text box, printed in no less than 10-point type.
(b) Prior to receiving payment for any towing, recovery, or storage-related fees, a person that charges for towing or storage, or both, shall provide an itemized invoice of actual charges to the vehicle owner or his or her agent. If an automotive repair dealer, registered pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 9884) of Chapter 20.3 of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code, did not provide the tow, and passes along, from the tower to the consumer, any of the information required on the itemized invoice, pursuant to subdivision (e), the automotive repair dealer shall not be responsible for the accuracy of those items of information that remain unaltered.

(c) Prior to paying any towing, recovery, or storage-related fees, a vehicle owner or his or her agent shall have the right to all of the following:
(1) Receive his or her personal property, at no charge, during normal business hours. Normal business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., inclusive, except state holidays.

(2) Retrieve his or her vehicle during the first 72 hours of storage and not pay a lien fee.

(3) Request a copy of the Towing Fees and Access Notice.

(4) Be permitted to pay by cash or a valid bank credit card. Credit charges for towing and storage services shall comply with Section 1748.1 of the Civil Code. Law enforcement agencies may include the costs of providing for payment by credit when agreeing with a towing or storage provider on rates.
(d) The Towing Fees and Access Notice shall be a standardized document plainly printed in no less that 10-point type. A person may distribute the form using its own letterhead, but the language of the Towing Fees and Access Notice shall read as follows:
+------------------------------------------------+
|Towing Fees and Access Notice                   |
+------------------------------------------------+
|                                                |
+------------------------------------------------+
|Note: The following information is intended to  |
|serve as a general       summary of some of the |
|laws that provide vehicle owners certain rights |
|when their vehicle is towed. It is not intended |
|to summarize all of the laws that may be        |
|applicable nor is it intended to fully and      |
|completely state the entire law in any area     |
|listed. Please review the applicable California |
|code for a definitive statement of the law in   |
|your particular situation.                      |
+------------------------------------------------+
|                                                |
+------------------------------------------------+
|How much can a towing company charge?           |
+------------------------------------------------+
|                                                |
+------------------------------------------------+
|Rates for public tows and storage are generally |
|established by an agreement between the law     |
|enforcement agency requesting the tow and the   |
|towing company (to confirm the approved rates,  |
|you may contact the law enforcement agency that |
|initiated the tow; additionally, these rates    |
|are required to be posted at the storage        |
|facility).                                      |
+------------------------------------------------+
|                                                |
+------------------------------------------------+
|Rates for private property       tows and       |
|storage cannot exceed the approved rates for    |
|the law enforcement agency that has primary     |
|jurisdiction for the property from which the    |
|vehicle was removed or the towing company's     |
|approved CHP rate.                              |
+------------------------------------------------+
|Rates for owner's request tows and storage are  |
|generally established by mutual agreement       |
|between the requestor and the towing company,   |
|but may be dictated by agreements established   |
|between the requestor's motor club and motor    |
|club service provider.                          |
+------------------------------------------------+
|                                                |
+------------------------------------------------+
|Where can you complain about a towing company?  |
+------------------------------------------------+
|                                                |
+------------------------------------------------+
|For public tows: Contact the law enforcement    |
|agency initiating the tow.                      |
+------------------------------------------------+
|                                                |
+------------------------------------------------+
|Your rights if your vehicle is towed:           |
+------------------------------------------------+
|                                                |
+------------------------------------------------+
|Generally, prior to paying any towing and       |
|storage-related fees you have the right to:     |
+------------------------------------------------+
| Receive an itemized invoice of    |
|actual charges.                                 |
+-----------------------------------------------+
| Receive your personal property,   |
|at no charge, during normal business hours.     |
+------------------------------------------------+
| Retrieve your vehicle during the  |
|first 72 hours of storage and not pay a lien    |
|fee.                                            |
+------------------------------------------------+
| Request a copy of the Towing Fees |
|and Access Notice.                              |
+------------------------------------------------+
| Pay by cash or valid bank credit  |
|card.                                           |
+------------------------------------------------+
| Inspect your vehicle or have your |
|insurance carrier inspect your vehicle at the   |
|storage facility, at no charge, during normal   |
|business       hours.                           |
+------------------------------------------------+
|You have the right to have the vehicle released |
|to you upon (1) payment of all towing and       |
|storage-related fees, (2) presentation of a     |
|valid photo identification, (3) presentation of |
|reliable documentation showing that you are the |
|owner of the vehicle or that the owner has      |
|authorized you to take possession of the        |
|vehicle, and (4), if applicable, presentation   |
|of any required police or law enforcement       |
|release documents.                              |
+------------------------------------------------+
|Prior to your vehicle being repaired:           |
+------------------------------------------------+
| You have the right to choose the  |
|repair facility and to have no repairs made to  |
|your vehicle unless you authorize them in       |
|writing.                                        |
+------------------------------------------------+
| Any authorization you sign for    |
|towing and any authorization you sign for       |
|repair must be on separate forms.               |
+------------------------------------------------+
|                                                |
+------------------------------------------------+
|What if I do not pay the towing and storage-    |
|related fees or abandon my vehicle at the       |
|towing company?                                 |
+------------------------------------------------+
|                                                |
+------------------------------------------------+
|Pursuant to Sections 3068.1 to 3074, inclusive, |
|of the Civil Code, a towing company may sell    |
|your vehicle and any moneys received will be    |
|applied to towing and storage-related fees that |
|have accumulated against your vehicle.          |
+------------------------------------------------+
|                                                |
+------------------------------------------------+
|You are responsible for paying the towing       |
|company any outstanding balance due on any of   |
|these fees once the sale is complete.           |
+------------------------------------------------+
|                                                |
+------------------------------------------------+
|Who is liable if my vehicle was damaged during  |
|towing or storage?                              |
+------------------------------------------------+
|                                                |
+------------------------------------------------+
|Generally the owner of a vehicle may recover    |
|for any damage to the vehicle resulting from    |
|any intentional or       negligent act of a     |
|person causing the removal of, or removing, the |
|vehicle.                                        |
+------------------------------------------------+
|                                                |
+------------------------------------------------+
|What happens if a towing company violates the   |
|law?                                            |
+------------------------------------------------+
|                                                |
+------------------------------------------------+
|If a tow company does not satisfactorily meet   |
|certain requirements detailed in this notice,   |
|you may bring a lawsuit in court, generally in  |
|small claims court. The tower may be civilly    |
|liable for damages up to two times the amount   |
|charged, not to exceed $500, and possibly more  |
|for certain violations.                         |
+------------------------------------------------+
|                                                |
+------------------------------------------------+



(e) "Itemized invoice," as used in this section, means a written document that contains the following information. Any document that substantially complies with this subdivision shall be deemed an "itemized invoice" for purposes of this section:
(1) The name, address, telephone number, and carrier identification number as required by subdivision (a) of Section 34507.5 of the person that is charging for towing and storage.

(2) If ascertainable, the registered owner or operator's name, address, and telephone number.

(3) The date service was initiated.

(4) The location of the vehicle at the time service was initiated, including either the address or nearest intersecting roadways.

(5) A vehicle description that includes, if ascertainable, the vehicle year, make, model, odometer reading, license plate number, or if a license plate number is unavailable, the vehicle identification number (VIN).

(6) The service dispatch time, the service arrival time of the tow truck, and the service completion time.

(7) A clear, itemized, and detailed explanation of any additional services that caused the total towing-related service time to exceed one hour between service dispatch time and service completion time.

(8) The hourly rate or per item rate used to calculate the total towing and recovery-related fees. These fees shall be listed as separate line items.

(9) If subject to storage fees, the daily storage rate and the total number of days stored. The storage fees shall be listed as a separate line item.

(10) If subject to a gate fee, the date and time the vehicle was either accessed, for the purposes of returning personal property, or was released after normal business hours. Normal business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., inclusive, except state holidays. A gate fee shall be listed as a separate line item.

(11) A description of the method of towing.

(12) If the tow was not requested by the vehicle's owner or driver, the identity of the person or governmental agency that directed the tow. This paragraph shall not apply to information otherwise required to be redacted under Section 22658.

(13) A clear, itemized, and detailed explanation of any additional services or fees.
(f) "Person," as used in this section, has the same meaning as described in Section 470.

(g) An insurer or insurer's agent shall be permitted to pay for towing and storage charges by bank draft.

(h) A person who violates this section is civilly liable to a registered or legal owner of the vehicle, or a registered owner's insurer, for up to two times the amount charged. For any action brought under this section, liability shall not exceed five hundred dollars ($500) per vehicle.

(i) This section shall not apply to the towing or storage of a repossessed vehicle by any person subject to, or exempt from, the Collateral Recovery Act (Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 7500) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code).

(j) This section does not relieve a person from the obligation to comply with the provision of any other law.


Vehicle Code Section 22651.1:

Persons operating or in charge of any storage facility where vehicles are stored pursuant to Section 22651 shall accept a valid bank credit card or cash for payment of towing and storage by the registered owner, legal owner, or the owner's agent claiming the vehicle. A credit card shall be in the name of the person presenting the card. "Credit card" means "credit card" as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 1747.02 of the Civil Code, except, for the purposes of this section, credit card does not include a credit card issued by a retail seller. A person operating or in charge of any storage facility who refuses to accept a valid bank credit card shall be liable to the owner of the vehicle or to the person who tendered the fees for four times the amount of the towing and storage charges, but not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500). In addition, persons operating or in charge of the storage facility shall have sufficient funds on the premises to accommodate and make change in a reasonable monetary transaction.

Credit charges for towing and storage services shall comply with Section 1748.1 of the Civil Code. Law enforcement agencies may include the costs of providing for payment by credit when agreeing with a towing or storage provider on rates.


Towing Law - When a Private Business Tows

There are strict requirements which must be met before a private business can tow a vehicle.

Two of the most common towing situations are from apartment complexes and retail stores like restaurants.

If the exact requirements are met the towing company has no liability. If they are not met the vehicle owner can be owed some money.

Vehicle Code Section 22658:

(a) The owner or person in lawful possession of private property, including an association of a common interest development as defined in Sections 4080 and 4100 or Sections 6528 and 6534 of the Civil Code, may cause the removal of a vehicle parked on the property to a storage facility that meets the requirements of subdivision (n) under any of the following circumstances:

(1) There is displayed, in plain view at all entrances to the property, a sign not less than 17 inches by 22 inches in size, with lettering not less than one inch in height, prohibiting public parking and indicating that vehicles will be removed at the owner's expense, and containing the telephone number of the local traffic law enforcement agency and the name and telephone number of each towing company that is a party to a written general towing authorization agreement with the owner or person in lawful possession of the property. The sign may also indicate that a citation may also be issued for the violation.

(2) The vehicle has been issued a notice of parking violation, and 96 hours have elapsed since the issuance of that notice.

(3) The vehicle is on private property and lacks an engine, transmission, wheels, tires, doors, windshield, or any other major part or equipment necessary to operate safely on the highways, the owner or person in lawful possession of the private property has notified the local traffic law enforcement agency, and 24 hours have elapsed since that notification.

(4) The lot or parcel upon which the vehicle is parked is improved with a single-family dwelling.
(b) The tow truck operator removing the vehicle, if the operator knows or is able to ascertain from the property owner, person in lawful possession of the property, or the registration records of the Department of Motor Vehicles the name and address of the registered and legal owner of the vehicle, shall immediately give, or cause to be given, notice in writing to the registered and legal owner of the fact of the removal, the grounds for the removal, and indicate the place to which the vehicle has been removed. If the vehicle is stored in a storage facility, a copy of the notice shall be given to the proprietor of the storage facility. The notice provided for in this section shall include the amount of mileage on the vehicle at the time of removal and the time of the removal from the property. If the tow truck operator does not know and is not able to ascertain the name of the owner or for any other reason is unable to give the notice to the owner as provided in this section, the tow truck operator shall comply with the requirements of subdivision (c) of Section 22853 relating to notice in the same manner as applicable to an officer removing a vehicle from private property.

(c) This section does not limit or affect any right or remedy that the owner or person in lawful possession of private property may have by virtue of other provisions of law authorizing the removal of a vehicle parked upon private property.

(d) The owner of a vehicle removed from private property pursuant to subdivision (a) may recover for any damage to the vehicle resulting from any intentional or negligent act of a person causing the removal of, or removing, the vehicle.

(e)
(1) An owner or person in lawful possession of private property, or an association of a common interest development, causing the removal of a vehicle parked on that property is liable for double the storage or towing charges whenever there has been a failure to comply with paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of subdivision (a) or to state the grounds for the removal of the vehicle if requested by the legal or registered owner of the vehicle as required by subdivision (f).

(2) A property owner or owner's agent or lessee who causes the removal of a vehicle parked on that property pursuant to the exemption set forth in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (l) and fails to comply with that subdivision is guilty of an infraction, punishable by a fine of one thousand dollars ($1,000).
(f) An owner or person in lawful possession of private property, or an association of a common interest development, causing the removal of a vehicle parked on that property shall notify by telephone or, if impractical, by the most expeditious means available, the local traffic law enforcement agency within one hour after authorizing the tow. An owner or person in lawful possession of private property, an association of a common interest development, causing the removal of a vehicle parked on that property, or the tow truck operator who removes the vehicle, shall state the grounds for the removal of the vehicle if requested by the legal or registered owner of that vehicle. A towing company that removes a vehicle from private property in compliance with subdivision (l) is not responsible in a situation relating to the validity of the removal. A towing company that removes the vehicle under this section shall be responsible for the following:
(1) Damage to the vehicle in the transit and subsequent storage of the vehicle.

(2) The removal of a vehicle other than the vehicle specified by the owner or other person in lawful possession of the private property.
(g)
(1)
(A) Possession of a vehicle under this section shall be deemed to arise when a vehicle is removed from private property and is in transit.

(B) Upon the request of the owner of the vehicle or that owner's agent, the towing company or its driver shall immediately and unconditionally release a vehicle that is not yet removed from the private property and in transit.

(C) A person failing to comply with subparagraph (B) is guilty of a misdemeanor.
(2) If a vehicle is released to a person in compliance with subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1), the vehicle owner or authorized agent shall immediately move that vehicle to a lawful location.
(h) A towing company may impose a charge of not more than one-half of the regular towing charge for the towing of a vehicle at the request of the owner, the owner's agent, or the person in lawful possession of the private property pursuant to this section if the owner of the vehicle or the vehicle owner's agent returns to the vehicle after the vehicle is coupled to the tow truck by means of a regular hitch, coupling device, drawbar, portable dolly, or is lifted off the ground by means of a conventional trailer, and before it is removed from the private property. The regular towing charge may only be imposed after the vehicle has been removed from the property and is in transit.

(i)
(1)
(A) A charge for towing or storage, or both, of a vehicle under this section is excessive if the charge exceeds the greater of the following:
(i) That which would have been charged for that towing or storage, or both, made at the request of a law enforcement agency under an agreement between a towing company and the law enforcement agency that exercises primary jurisdiction in the city in which is located the private property from which the vehicle was, or was attempted to be, removed, or if the private property is not located within a city, then the law enforcement agency that exercises primary jurisdiction in the county in which the private property is located.

(ii) That which would have been charged for that towing or storage, or both, under the rate approved for that towing operator by the Department of the California Highway Patrol for the jurisdiction in which the private property is located and from which the vehicle was, or was attempted to be, removed.
(B) A towing operator shall make available for inspection and copying his or her rate approved by the Department of the California Highway Patrol, if any, within 24 hours of a request without a warrant to law enforcement, the Attorney General, district attorney, or city attorney.
(2) If a vehicle is released within 24 hours from the time the vehicle is brought into the storage facility, regardless of the calendar date, the storage charge shall be for only one day. Not more than one day's storage charge may be required for a vehicle released the same day that it is stored.

(3) If a request to release a vehicle is made and the appropriate fees are tendered and documentation establishing that the person requesting release is entitled to possession of the vehicle, or is the owner's insurance representative, is presented within the initial 24 hours of storage, and the storage facility fails to comply with the request to release the vehicle or is not open for business during normal business hours, then only one day's storage charge may be required to be paid until after the first business day. A business day is any day in which the lienholder is open for business to the public for at least eight hours. If a request is made more than 24 hours after the vehicle is placed in storage, charges may be imposed on a full calendar day basis for each day, or part thereof, that the vehicle is in storage.
(j)
(1) A person who charges a vehicle owner a towing, service, or storage charge at an excessive rate, as described in subdivision (h) or (i), is civilly liable to the vehicle owner for four times the amount charged.

(2) A person who knowingly charges a vehicle owner a towing, service, or storage charge at an excessive rate, as described in subdivision (h) or (i), or who fails to make available his or her rate as required in subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (i), is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than three months, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
(k)
(1) A person operating or in charge of a storage facility where vehicles are stored pursuant to this section shall accept a valid bank credit card or cash for payment of towing and storage by a registered owner, the legal owner, or the owner's agent claiming the vehicle. A credit card shall be in the name of the person presenting the card. "Credit card" means "credit card" as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 1747.02 of the Civil Code, except, for the purposes of this section, credit card does not include a credit card issued by a retail seller.

(2) A person described in paragraph (1) shall conspicuously display, in that portion of the storage facility office where business is conducted with the public, a notice advising that all valid credit cards and cash are acceptable means of payment.

(3) A person operating or in charge of a storage facility who refuses to accept a valid credit card or who fails to post the required notice under paragraph (2) is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than three months, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

(4) A person described in paragraph (1) who violates paragraph (1) or (2) is civilly liable to the registered owner of the vehicle or the person who tendered the fees for four times the amount of the towing and storage charges.

(5) A person operating or in charge of the storage facility shall have sufficient moneys on the premises of the primary storage facility during normal business hours to accommodate, and make change in, a reasonable monetary transaction.

(6) Credit charges for towing and storage services shall comply with Section 1748.1 of the Civil Code. Law enforcement agencies may include the costs of providing for payment by credit when making agreements with towing companies as described in subdivision (i).
(l)
(1)
(A) A towing company shall not remove or commence the removal of a vehicle from private property without first obtaining the written authorization from the property owner or lessee, including an association of a common interest development, or an employee or agent thereof, who shall be present at the time of removal and verify the alleged violation, except that presence and verification is not required if the person authorizing the tow is the property owner, or the owner's agent who is not a tow operator, of a residential rental property of 15 or fewer units that does not have an onsite owner, owner's agent or employee, and the tenant has verified the violation, requested the tow from that tenant's assigned parking space, and provided a signed request or electronic mail, or has called and provides a signed request or electronic mail within 24 hours, to the property owner or owner's agent, which the owner or agent shall provide to the towing company within 48 hours of authorizing the tow. The signed request or electronic mail shall contain the name and address of the tenant, and the date and time the tenant requested the tow. A towing company shall obtain, within 48 hours of receiving the written authorization to tow, a copy of a tenant request required pursuant to this subparagraph. For the purpose of this subparagraph, a person providing the written authorization who is required to be present on the private property at the time of the tow does not have to be physically present at the specified location of where the vehicle to be removed is located on the private property.

(B) The written authorization under subparagraph (A) shall include all of the following:
(i) The make, model, vehicle identification number, and license plate number of the removed vehicle.

(ii) The name, signature, job title, residential or business address, and working telephone number of the person, described in subparagraph (A), authorizing the removal of the vehicle.

(iii) The grounds for the removal of the vehicle.

(iv) The time when the vehicle was first observed parked at the private property.

(v) The time that authorization to tow the vehicle was given.
(C)
(i) When the vehicle owner or his or her agent claims the vehicle, the towing company prior to payment of a towing or storage charge shall provide a photocopy of the written authorization to the vehicle owner or the agent.

(ii) If the vehicle was towed from a residential property, the towing company shall redact the information specified in clause (ii) of subparagraph (B) in the photocopy of the written authorization provided to the vehicle owner or the agent pursuant to clause (i).

(iii) The towing company shall also provide to the vehicle owner or the agent a separate notice that provides the telephone number of the appropriate local law enforcement or prosecuting agency by stating "If you believe that you have been wrongfully towed, please contact the local law enforcement or prosecuting agency at [insert appropriate telephone number]." The notice shall be in English and in the most populous language, other than English, that is spoken in the jurisdiction.
(D) A towing company shall not remove or commence the removal of a vehicle from private property described in subdivision (a) of Section 22953 unless the towing company has made a good faith inquiry to determine that the owner or the property owner's agent complied with Section 22953.

(E)
(i) General authorization to remove or commence removal of a vehicle at the towing company's discretion shall not be delegated to a towing company or its affiliates except in the case of a vehicle unlawfully parked within 15 feet of a fire hydrant or in a fire lane, or in a manner which interferes with an entrance to, or exit from, the private property.

(ii) In those cases in which general authorization is granted to a towing company or its affiliate to undertake the removal or commence the removal of a vehicle that is unlawfully parked within 15 feet of a fire hydrant or in a fire lane, or that interferes with an entrance to, or exit from, private property, the towing company and the property owner, or owner's agent, or person in lawful possession of the private property shall have a written agreement granting that general authorization.
(2) If a towing company removes a vehicle under a general authorization described in subparagraph (E) of paragraph (1) and that vehicle is unlawfully parked within 15 feet of a fire hydrant or in a fire lane, or in a manner that interferes with an entrance to, or exit from, the private property, the towing company shall take, prior to the removal of that vehicle, a photograph of the vehicle that clearly indicates that parking violation. Prior to accepting payment, the towing company shall keep one copy of the photograph taken pursuant to this paragraph, and shall present that photograph and provide, without charge, a photocopy to the owner or an agent of the owner, when that person claims the vehicle.

(3) A towing company shall maintain the original written authorization, or the general authorization described in subparagraph (E) of paragraph (1) and the photograph of the violation, required pursuant to this section, and any written requests from a tenant to the property owner or owner's agent required by subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1), for a period of three years and shall make them available for inspection and copying within 24 hours of a request without a warrant to law enforcement, the Attorney General, district attorney, or city attorney.

(4) A person who violates this subdivision is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than three months, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

(5) A person who violates this subdivision is civilly liable to the owner of the vehicle or his or her agent for four times the amount of the towing and storage charges.
(m)
(1) A towing company that removes a vehicle from private property under this section shall notify the local law enforcement agency of that tow after the vehicle is removed from the private property and is in transit.

(2) A towing company is guilty of a misdemeanor if the towing company fails to provide the notification required under paragraph (1) within 60 minutes after the vehicle is removed from the private property and is in transit or 15 minutes after arriving at the storage facility, whichever time is less.

(3) A towing company that does not provide the notification under paragraph (1) within 30 minutes after the vehicle is removed from the private property and is in transit is civilly liable to the registered owner of the vehicle, or the person who tenders the fees, for three times the amount of the towing and storage charges.

(4) If notification is impracticable, the times for notification, as required pursuant to paragraphs (2) and (3), shall be tolled for the time period that notification is impracticable. This paragraph is an affirmative defense.
(n) A vehicle removed from private property pursuant to this section shall be stored in a facility that meets all of the following requirements:
(1)
(A) Is located within a 10-mile radius of the property from where the vehicle was removed.

(B) The 10-mile radius requirement of subparagraph (A) does not apply if a towing company has prior general written approval from the law enforcement agency that exercises primary jurisdiction in the city in which is located the private property from which the vehicle was removed, or if the private property is not located within a city, then the law enforcement agency that exercises primary jurisdiction in the county in which is located the private property.
(2)
(A) Remains open during normal business hours and releases vehicles after normal business hours.

(B) A gate fee may be charged for releasing a vehicle after normal business hours, weekends, and state holidays. However, the maximum hourly charge for releasing a vehicle after normal business hours shall be one-half of the hourly tow rate charged for initially towing the vehicle, or less.

(C) Notwithstanding any other provision of law and for purposes of this paragraph, "normal business hours" are Monday to Friday, inclusive, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., inclusive, except state holidays.
(3) Has a public pay telephone in the office area that is open and accessible to the public.
(o)
(1) It is the intent of the Legislature in the adoption of subdivision (k) to assist vehicle owners or their agents by, among other things, allowing payment by credit cards for towing and storage services, thereby expediting the recovery of towed vehicles and concurrently promoting the safety and welfare of the public.

(2) It is the intent of the Legislature in the adoption of subdivision (l) to further the safety of the general public by ensuring that a private property owner or lessee has provided his or her authorization for the removal of a vehicle from his or her property, thereby promoting the safety of those persons involved in ordering the removal of the vehicle as well as those persons removing, towing, and storing the vehicle.

(3) It is the intent of the Legislature in the adoption of subdivision (g) to promote the safety of the general public by requiring towing companies to unconditionally release a vehicle that is not lawfully in their possession, thereby avoiding the likelihood of dangerous and violent confrontation and physical injury to vehicle owners and towing operators, the stranding of vehicle owners and their passengers at a dangerous time and location, and impeding expedited vehicle recovery, without wasting law enforcement's limited resources.
(p) The remedies, sanctions, restrictions, and procedures provided in this section are not exclusive and are in addition to other remedies, sanctions, restrictions, or procedures that may be provided in other provisions of law, including, but not limited to, those that are provided in Sections 12110 and 34660.

(q) A vehicle removed and stored pursuant to this section shall be released by the law enforcement agency, impounding agency, or person in possession of the vehicle, or any person acting on behalf of them, to the legal owner or the legal owner's agent upon presentation of the assignment, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 7500.1 of the Business and Professions Code; a release from the one responsible governmental agency, only if required by the agency; a government-issued photographic identification card; and any one of the following as determined by the legal owner or the legal owner's agent: a certificate of repossession for the vehicle, a security agreement for the vehicle, or title, whether paper or electronic, showing proof of legal ownership for the vehicle. Any documents presented may be originals, photocopies, or facsimile copies, or may be transmitted electronically. The storage facility shall not require any documents to be notarized. The storage facility may require the agent of the legal owner to produce a photocopy or facsimile copy of its repossession agency license or registration issued pursuant to Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 7500) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code, or to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the storage facility, that the agent is exempt from licensure pursuant to Section 7500.2 or 7500.3 of the Business and Professions Code.


Towing Law - When Police Can Tow a Car

There are many laws allowing the police to tow a car. This is but one, covering the most common situations when a vehicle may be towed.

Vehicle Code Section 22651:

A peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, or a regularly employed and salaried employee, who is engaged in directing traffic or enforcing parking laws and regulations, of a city, county, or jurisdiction of a state agency in which a vehicle is located, may remove a vehicle located within the territorial limits in which the officer or employee may act, under the following circumstances:

(a) When a vehicle is left unattended upon a bridge, viaduct, or causeway or in a tube or tunnel where the vehicle constitutes an obstruction to traffic.

(b) When a vehicle is parked or left standing upon a highway in a position so as to obstruct the normal movement of traffic or in a condition so as to create a hazard to other traffic upon the highway.

(c) When a vehicle is found upon a highway or public land and a report has previously been made that the vehicle is stolen or a complaint has been filed and a warrant thereon is issued charging that the vehicle was embezzled.

(d) When a vehicle is illegally parked so as to block the entrance to a private driveway and it is impractical to move the vehicle from in front of the driveway to another point on the highway.

(e) When a vehicle is illegally parked so as to prevent access by firefighting equipment to a fire hydrant and it is impracticable to move the vehicle from in front of the fire hydrant to another point on the highway.

(f) When a vehicle, except highway maintenance or construction equipment, is stopped, parked, or left standing for more than four hours upon the right-of-way of a freeway that has full control of access and no crossings at grade and the driver, if present, cannot move the vehicle under its own power.

(g) When the person in charge of a vehicle upon a highway or public land is, by reason of physical injuries or illness, incapacitated to an extent so as to be unable to provide for its custody or removal.

(h)
(1) When an officer arrests a person driving or in control of a vehicle for an alleged offense and the officer is, by this code or other law, required or permitted to take, and does take, the person into custody.

(2) When an officer serves a notice of an order of suspension or revocation pursuant to Section 13388 or 13389.
(i)
(1) When a vehicle, other than a rented vehicle, is found upon a highway or public land, or is removed pursuant to this code, and it is known that the vehicle has been issued five or more notices of parking violations to which the owner or person in control of the vehicle has not responded within 21 calendar days of notice of citation issuance or citation issuance or 14 calendar days of the mailing of a notice of delinquent parking violation to the agency responsible for processing notices of parking violations, or the registered owner of the vehicle is known to have been issued five or more notices for failure to pay or failure to appear in court for traffic violations for which a certificate has not been issued by the magistrate or clerk of the court hearing the case showing that the case has been adjudicated or concerning which the registered owner's record has not been cleared pursuant to Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 41500) of Division 17, the vehicle may be impounded until that person furnishes to the impounding law enforcement agency all of the following:
(A) Evidence of his or her identity.

(B) An address within this state at which he or she can be located.

(C) Satisfactory evidence that all parking penalties due for the vehicle and all other vehicles registered to the registered owner of the impounded vehicle, and all traffic violations of the registered owner, have been cleared.
(2) The requirements in subparagraph (C) of paragraph (1) shall be fully enforced by the impounding law enforcement agency on and after the time that the Department of Motor Vehicles is able to provide access to the necessary records.

(3) A notice of parking violation issued for an unlawfully parked vehicle shall be accompanied by a warning that repeated violations may result in the impounding of the vehicle. In lieu of furnishing satisfactory evidence that the full amount of parking penalties or bail has been deposited, that person may demand to be taken without unnecessary delay before a magistrate, for traffic offenses, or a hearing examiner, for parking offenses, within the county in which the offenses charged are alleged to have been committed and who has jurisdiction of the offenses and is nearest or most accessible with reference to the place where the vehicle is impounded. Evidence of current registration shall be produced after a vehicle has been impounded, or, at the discretion of the impounding law enforcement agency, a notice to appear for violation of subdivision (a) of Section 4000 shall be issued to that person.

(4) A vehicle shall be released to the legal owner, as defined in Section 370, if the legal owner does all of the following:
(A) Pays the cost of towing and storing the vehicle.

(B) Submits evidence of payment of fees as provided in Section 9561.

(C) Completes an affidavit in a form acceptable to the impounding law enforcement agency stating that the vehicle was not in possession of the legal owner at the time of occurrence of the offenses relating to standing or parking. A vehicle released to a legal owner under this subdivision is a repossessed vehicle for purposes of disposition or sale. The impounding agency shall have a lien on any surplus that remains upon sale of the vehicle to which the registered owner is or may be entitled, as security for the full amount of the parking penalties for all notices of parking violations issued for the vehicle and for all local administrative charges imposed pursuant to Section 22850.5. The legal owner shall promptly remit to, and deposit with, the agency responsible for processing notices of parking violations from that surplus, on receipt of that surplus, the full amount of the parking penalties for all notices of parking violations issued for the vehicle and for all local administrative charges imposed pursuant to Section 22850.5.
(5) The impounding agency that has a lien on the surplus that remains upon the sale of a vehicle to which a registered owner is entitled pursuant to paragraph (4) has a deficiency claim against the registered owner for the full amount of the parking penalties for all notices of parking violations issued for the vehicle and for all local administrative charges imposed pursuant to Section 22850.5, less the amount received from the sale of the vehicle.
(j) When a vehicle is found illegally parked and there are no license plates or other evidence of registration displayed, the vehicle may be impounded until the owner or person in control of the vehicle furnishes the impounding law enforcement agency evidence of his or her identity and an address within this state at which he or she can be located.

(k) When a vehicle is parked or left standing upon a highway for 72 or more consecutive hours in violation of a local ordinance authorizing removal.

(l) When a vehicle is illegally parked on a highway in violation of a local ordinance forbidding standing or parking and the use of a highway, or a portion thereof, is necessary for the cleaning, repair, or construction of the highway, or for the installation of underground utilities, and signs giving notice that the vehicle may be removed are erected or placed at least 24 hours prior to the removal by a local authority pursuant to the ordinance.

(m) When the use of the highway, or a portion of the highway, is authorized by a local authority for a purpose other than the normal flow of traffic or for the movement of equipment, articles, or structures of unusual size, and the parking of a vehicle would prohibit or interfere with that use or movement, and signs giving notice that the vehicle may be removed are erected or placed at least 24 hours prior to the removal by a local authority pursuant to the ordinance.

(n) Whenever a vehicle is parked or left standing where local authorities, by resolution or ordinance, have prohibited parking and have authorized the removal of vehicles. Except as provided in subdivision (v), a vehicle shall not be removed unless signs are posted giving notice of the removal.

(o)
(1) When a vehicle is found or operated upon a highway, public land, or an offstreet parking facility under the following circumstances:
(A) With a registration expiration date in excess of six months before the date it is found or operated on the highway, public lands, or the offstreet parking facility.

(B) Displaying in, or upon, the vehicle, a registration card, identification card, temporary receipt, license plate, special plate, registration sticker, device issued pursuant to Section 4853, or permit that was not issued for that vehicle, or is not otherwise lawfully used on that vehicle under this code.

(C) Displaying in, or upon, the vehicle, an altered, forged, counterfeit, or falsified registration card, identification card, temporary receipt, license plate, special plate, registration sticker, device issued pursuant to Section 4853, or permit.
(2) When a vehicle described in paragraph (1) is occupied, only a peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, may remove the vehicle.

(3) For the purposes of this subdivision, the vehicle shall be released to the owner or person in control of the vehicle only after the owner or person furnishes the storing law enforcement agency with proof of current registration and a currently valid driver's license to operate the vehicle.

(4) As used in this subdivision, "offstreet parking facility" means an offstreet facility held open for use by the public for parking vehicles and includes a publicly owned facility for offstreet parking, and a privately owned facility for offstreet parking if a fee is not charged for the privilege to park and it is held open for the common public use of retail customers.
(p) When the peace officer issues the driver of a vehicle a notice to appear for a violation of Section 12500, 14601, 14601.1, 14601.2, 14601.3, 14601.4, 14601.5, or 14604 and the vehicle is not impounded pursuant to Section 22655.5. A vehicle so removed from the highway or public land, or from private property after having been on a highway or public land, shall not be released to the registered owner or his or her agent, except upon presentation of the registered owner's or his or her agent's currently valid driver's license to operate the vehicle and proof of current vehicle registration, or upon order of a court.

(q) When a vehicle is parked for more than 24 hours on a portion of highway that is located within the boundaries of a common interest development, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 1351 of the Civil Code, and signs, as required by paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 22658 of this code, have been posted on that portion of highway providing notice to drivers that vehicles parked thereon for more than 24 hours will be removed at the owner's expense, pursuant to a resolution or ordinance adopted by the local authority.

(r) When a vehicle is illegally parked and blocks the movement of a legally parked vehicle.

(s)
(1) When a vehicle, except highway maintenance or construction equipment, an authorized emergency vehicle, or a vehicle that is properly permitted or otherwise authorized by the Department of Transportation, is stopped, parked, or left standing for more than eight hours within a roadside rest area or viewpoint.

(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), when a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) of Section 15210, is stopped, parked, or left standing for more than 10 hours within a roadside rest area or viewpoint.

(3) For purposes of this subdivision, a roadside rest area or viewpoint is a publicly maintained vehicle parking area, adjacent to a highway, utilized for the convenient, safe stopping of a vehicle to enable motorists to rest or to view the scenery. If two or more roadside rest areas are located on opposite sides of the highway, or upon the center divider, within seven miles of each other, then that combination of rest areas is considered to be the same rest area.
(t) When a peace officer issues a notice to appear for a violation of Section 25279.

(u) When a peace officer issues a citation for a violation of Section 11700 and the vehicle is being offered for sale.

(v)
(1) When a vehicle is a mobile billboard advertising display, as defined in Section 395.5, and is parked or left standing in violation of a local resolution or ordinance adopted pursuant to subdivision (m) of Section 21100, if the registered owner of the vehicle was previously issued a warning citation for the same offense, pursuant to paragraph (2).

(2) Notwithstanding subdivision (a) of Section 22507, a city or county, in lieu of posting signs noticing a local ordinance prohibiting mobile billboard advertising displays adopted pursuant to subdivision (m) of Section 21100, may provide notice by issuing a warning citation advising the registered owner of the vehicle that he or she may be subject to penalties upon a subsequent violation of the ordinance, that may include the removal of the vehicle as provided in paragraph (1). A city or county is not required to provide further notice for a subsequent violation prior to the enforcement of penalties for a violation of the ordinance.

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