TDLR Logo TDLR Logo

Site Navigation

Consumer Information about Towing

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:

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:

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 $135 for car weighing 10,000 lbs or less; $190 for cars weighing more than 10,000 but less than 25,000 lbs; and $244 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. Acceptable forms of ID include:

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

Pay all fees for towing and storage:

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 and incidents is entitled to receive:

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.

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.