Consumer Information about Towing and Booting

Cars parked in a tow-away zone or parked on property without permission may be towed at the car owner's expense. These tows are known as Private Property Tows. A property owner may have a boot attached to the wheel instead of having the car towed. These pages provide information for consumers who have had their vehicle towed in a private property tow.

I. WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS?

When a tow truck tries to tow your car or after your car has been towed, you have certain rights as the car owner under the law.

Your rights:

  • If you return to your car and it is being hooked-up to a tow truck but IT IS NOT FULLY hooked up and ready for towing, you can keep your car WITHOUT paying a CHARGE. You do not need to prove ownership of the car in this instance.
  • If you return to your car and IT IS FULLY HOOKED UP, READY FOR TOWING, BUT HAS NOT LEFT THE PARKING LOT, you may keep your car but YOU MUST PAY A DROP FEE. You do not need to prove ownership of the car in this instance either.
  • If your car has been towed from a parking lot, you can find your car by calling the phone number on the no parking sign. You can recover your car from the vehicle storage facility (VSF) after documenting that you are the owner (or allowed user) and paying the towing and storage fees.
  • At the VSF, you may have access to your car to get ownership documents. You do not have to pay a fee to do this.
  • At the VSF, you may have access to your car to recover personal property. You do not have to pay a fee to do this.
  • You can claim or just access your car 24-hours a day and within one hour if the VSF accepts cars 24-hours a day.
  • If a VSF does not accept cars 24 hours a day, you may claim your car within one hour of your request between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and midnight Monday -Saturday and from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays except for nationally recognized holidays. VSFs with these hours are not required to release a car after midnight.

You may request a TOW HEARING at any Justice of the Peace Court in the county where your car was towed if you believe your car was wrongfully towed, stored or booted; or if you were charged more than the allowed fee. You must request a tow hearing from the court within 14 days of the tow.

You DO NOT have the right to:

  • Remove or dismantle any part attached to the car while it is at the VSF.
  • Retrieve your car from the VSF without paying the towing, storage or other allowed fees.
  • Have the boot removed without paying the booting fee.
  • Retrieve your car from the VSF without demonstrating that you are the owner or authorized user of the car.
  • Obtain your car after it has been removed from the parking facility but before it has been placed in a VSF.

II. WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

If you return to your car and it is being hooked-up to a tow truck but IT IS NOT FULLY hooked up and ready for towing, THEN you may ask for the release of your car WITHOUT PAYING ANY FEE OR CHARGE and without proving ownership.

If you return to your car and IT IS FULLY HOOKED UP, READY FOR TOWING, BUT HAS NOT LEFT THE PARKING LOT, you may keep your car but YOU MUST PAY A DROP FEE. The maximum drop fee statewide is $125 for car weighing 10,000 lbs or less; $175 for cars weighing more than 10,000 but less than 25,000 lbs; and $225 for cars with a gross weight rating that exceeds 25,000 lbs. A drop fee can be a less if limited by a city or county rule, but it can NEVER be MORE than the amounts listed above. A tow truck driver MUST ACCEPT CASH, CREDIT CARDS AND DEBIT CARDS as payment for the drop charge.

If your car has been towed away then you can find your car by calling the telephone number posted on the tow-away sign.

If your car has a boot attached, call the telephone number listed on the warning sticker attached to the window. DO NOT TRY TO REMOVE THE BOOT OR DRIVE WITH THE BOOT ATTACHED AS THIS MAY DAMAGE YOUR CAR.

III. RECOVERING YOUR CAR AT A VEHICLE STORAGE FACILITY

To recover your car at a VSF you MUST:

  • Provide your photo identification,
  • Prove you are the owner or authorized user of the car, and
  • Pay all fees for towing and storage.

Provide your photo identification. Acceptable forms of ID include:

  • Any state issued driver's license or identification card
  • Any photo ID issued by the Federal Government
  • Any photo ID issued by a foreign government such as a Mexico driver's license or a "matricula consular"

Prove you own or have the owner's permission to use the car with any ONE of these:

  • Your government issued driver's license that shows your name matches the owner information from the DMV's car registration database
  • An insurance card showing that you are a named insured for the car
  • The certificate of title to the car showing your name as the owner
  • A notarized power-of-attorney signed by the car owner
  • A tax collector's receipt and a car registration renewal card with your conforming identification
  • A current automobile lease or rental agreement signed by the operator of the car, or
  • This TDLR form that you can download, print and fill out: http://www.tdlr.texas.gov/towing/VSF011.pdf. The VSF must also make this form available to you.

Pay all fees for towing and storage:

  • The TOW CHARGE: The maximum charge for a private property tow is:
    • $250 for a car weighing up to 10,000 lbs
    • $350 for a car weighing more than 10,000 but less than 25,000 lbs
    • $450 per unit for unit for cars weighing more than 25,000 lbs with a $900 total maximum
    • These are the maximum rates statewide. Lower rates may be set by local municipal or county rule.
  • A DAILY STORAGE CHARGE of between $5.00 and $20 per day or part of a day for a car that is 25 feet long or less. A VSF must charge $35 per day or part of a day for a car that is longer than 25 feet. Here are some more facts about the daily storage charge:
    • A daily storage fee may be charged for any part of the day, except that a daily storage fee may not be charged for more than one day if the car remains at the VSF less than 12 hours. A day is considered to begin and end at midnight.
    • A VSF that accepts a car that is registered in Texas may not charge for more than five days of storage fees unless a notice (prescribed in ยง85.703 of the rules) is mailed or published. The notice is to inform the owner of the location of the car.
    • A VSF that accepts a car that is not registered in Texas must not charge for more than five days before the date a request for owner information is sent to the governmental entity with which the car is registered.
    • A VSF may charge a daily storage fee for each day or portion of a day the car is in storage after the VSF mails the notice to the registered car owner (or publishes the notice if the owner's address is unknown) until the car is removed and all accrued charges are paid.
    • Reasonable storage efforts. A VSF must make reasonable efforts for the storage of a car, such as locking doors, rolling up windows, and closing doors, hatchbacks, sunroofs, trunks, hoods, or convertible tops. Such actions are included in the storage fee.
  • A NOTIFICATION FEE. A VSF may charge up to $50 for notifying you that your car is at their VSF. If a notification must be published, and the actual cost of publication exceeds 50% of the notification fee, the VSF may recover the additional amount of the cost of publication. The publication fee is in addition to the notification fee. The VSF may not charge a notification fee if a car is reclaimed by the owner within 24 hours or before notification is sent.
  • An IMPOUNDMENT FEE. A VSF may charge a car owner an impoundment fee if impoundment is performed. Impoundment means:
    • If doors, windows, convertible tops, hatchbacks, sun roofs, trunks, or hoods are broken or inoperative, materials such as plastic or canvas tarpaulins must be used to ensure the protection of the stored car. To charge the impoundment fee, the VSF must also do at least one of the following:
      • conduct a written inventory of any unsecured personal property contained in the car; or
      • remove and store all such property for which safekeeping is necessary, and specifies such removal and storage on the written inventory; or
      • obtain the motor car registration information for the car from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles or analogous state agency.
    • THE IMPOUNDMENT FEE MAY NOT EXCEED $20. If the VSF charges a fee for Impoundment, the written bill for services must specify the exact services performed for that fee and the dates those services were performed.
  • GOVERNMENTAL OR LAW ENFORCEMENT FEES. A VSF may collect from a car owner any fee that must be paid to a law enforcement agency, the agency's authorized agent, or a governmental entity.
  • ADDITIONAL FEES. A VSF may NOT charge additional fees related to the storage of a car other than fees listed above.

IV. WHAT INFORMATION AM I ENTITLED TO REGARDING MY CAR BEING TOWED?

A consumer who has had a private property tow or any tow from a traffic accident is entitled to receive:

  • A copy of the tow ticket.
    A towing company must prepare and issue a tow ticket for each nonconsent tow. A copy of the tow ticket must be given to the car owner, if the owner or operator is present and available at the time of the tow, and a copy delivered to the car storage facility.

The tow ticket may only authorize charges directly related to towing the car. The tow ticket must itemize each charge and must characterize the fees using the identical fee structure stated in the towing company's nonconsent towing fee schedule on file with the VSF.

The tow ticket must contain the licensed name of the towing company, publicly listed telephone number, towing company certificate of registration number, and the TDLR license number of the towing operator.

A towing company must provide its nonconsent towing fees schedule to all VSF where it delivers cars. These fee schedules must be given to the public upon request.

  • A statement of consumer rights to a tow hearing.
  • The information needed to file for a tow hearing.
  • Each VSF shall tell the car owner of TDLR's website and email address, mailing address, and telephone number, for purposes of directing complaints about the car storage to the department.

V. WHAT HAPPENS IF I DID NOT CLAIM MY CAR?

A VSF may consider a car abandoned if it is not claimed by the owner. A VSF must mail or publish at least two notices stating that they have the car and wait at least 30 days after the second notice before taking any action.

A VSF may sell a car through a public sale 30 days after the VSF mailed or published the second notice. Proceeds from the sale will be used to pay towing and storage charges. Any remaining proceeds may be paid to the vehicle owner. Disputes over the sale or the payment of proceeds may be taken to court.

Special rules apply to a car that is more than 10 years old and in a condition to only be junked, crushed or dismantled. A VSF with these abandoned nuisance vehicles is not required to send or publish a second notice and may sell the car 30 days after the first notice.

VI. REQUEST A TOW HEARING

Consumers that have had their vehicle towed or booted without their consent are entitled to a hearing. The VSF, towing, or booting company must provide consumers a notice that informs them of their right to a hearing and that identifies the justice court having jurisdiction. This will be the court where you file a request for a tow hearing. Consumers must file their request for a hearing before the 14th day (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays) after the car was placed in the VSF or booted.

The notice on tow hearings to consumers must include:

(1) a statement that consumers have the right to submit a request within 14 days for a court hearing to determine whether probable cause existed to remove or boot the car;

(2) a list of the information that must be included in a request for a hearing;

(3) the amount of the filing fee for the hearing;

(4) the name, address, and telephone number of the towing company that removed the car or the booting company;

(5) the name, address, and telephone number of the VSF;

(6) the name, address, and telephone number of the person, property owner, or law enforcement agency that authorized the tow; and

(7) the name, address, and telephone number of the justice court where the VSF is located or, for booted cars, the name, address, and telephone number of the justice court where the car was booted.

A consumer's request for a tow hearing must contain the following information. The towing company or VSF is required to provide you with the information necessary for you to complete items (2) through (6) below.

(1) the name, address, and telephone number of the owner or operator of the car;

(2) the location from which the car was removed or in which the car was booted;

(3) the date when the car was removed or booted;

(4) the name, address, and telephone number of the person or law enforcement agency that authorized the removal or booting;

(5) the name, address, and telephone number of the car storage facility in which the car was placed;

(6) the name, address, and telephone number of the towing company that removed the car or of the booting company that installed a boot on the car;

(7) a copy of any receipt or notification that you received from the towing company, the booting company, or the VSF; and

(8) one or more photographs that show the location and text of any sign posted at the parking facility that states that parking is restricted; or a statement that no sign restricting parking was posted at the parking facility.

The court may charge a filing fee of $20 for this hearing. These hearings must be held before 21 calendar days after the court receives the request.

VII. FILING A COMPLAINT WITH TDLR

Consumers may file a complaint on-line through the TDLR website regarding a tow company, tow operator, car storage facility or their employees, or a booting company or their employees. Here is the link for filing a complaint: https://www.tdlr.texas.gov/Complaints/. Filing a complaint with TDLR is not a substitute for requesting a tow hearing; however, you may do both.

This is a summary of the provisions contained in the Vehicle Towing and Booting Law, the Vehicle Storage Facilities Law, or the administrative rules for those laws, and as such is not a complete description of your rights or of the requirements for license holders.