Tow Trucks, Operators and Vehicle Storage Facilities

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News and Updates

Continuing Education Requirements

HB 1560, the Sunset legislation for the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, amended Occupations Code §2308.157 and §2308.159(c) under the Towing statute, and transferred authority regarding the continuing education requirements to TDLR’s enabling statute, Chapter 51 of the Texas Occupations Code.

Please note that no changes were made, and Towing program licensees are still required to obtain continuing education (CE) credits as specified in the program rules.

Changes to Private Property Towing Fees

On October 5, 2021, the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation adopted amendments to 16 Texas Administrative Code, Section 86.455, changing the maximum amount that towing companies can charge for private property tows starting on November 1, 2021.

The Commission also adopted amendments to 16 Texas Administrative Code, Section 85.722, changing the allowable impoundment fee and daily storage fee that vehicle storage facilities can charge starting on November 1, 2021.

Private Property Tow Fees OLD FEE (Maximum) NEW FEE (Maximum)
Light Duty $255 $272
Medium Duty $357 $380
Heavy Duty $459 to $918 $489 to $978

 

Maximum Tow Drop Charges OLD FEE (Maximum) NEW FEE (Maximum)
Light Duty $127 $135
Medium Duty $178 $190
Heavy Duty $229 $244

 

Daily Storage OLD FEE (Maximum) NEW FEE (Maximum)
Vehicle Less Than 25 Feet $20.64 $21.03
Vehicle Greater Than 25 Feet $36.11 $36.80

 

OLD FEE NEW FEE
Vehicle Impoundment Fee $20.64 $21.03

 

Licensees may start employing the new fees listed above on November 1, 2021.

TDLR Withdraws Proposed Rule Changes

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation withdraws proposed amendments to an existing rule at 16 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 85, §85.710, regarding the Vehicle Storage Facilities Program, which appeared in the April 9, 2021, issue of the Texas Register (46 TexReg 2297). The withdrawn rule notice was published in the October 15, 2021, issue of the Texas Register (46 TexReg 7037).

HB 914: Designated municipal employees may now order vehicles towed if parked illegally or abandoned

House Bill 914, enacted by the 87th Legislature, authorizes a designated municipal employee to request the towing and storage of vehicles that are either illegally parked or abandoned. Parking compliance officers are now authorized to order the towing and storage of vehicles from public right-of-ways, allowing police officers to focus on more serious public safety concerns.

If a municipality has an ordinance regulating vehicle parking, the designated municipal employee may request removal of a vehicle that is parked illegally, or parked legally and has been unattended for more than 48 hours and the employee has reasonable grounds to believe is abandoned.

H.B. 914 took effect September 1, 2021. Read the bill here.

Tropical Storm Nicholas: Reminder to VSFs

In the wake of flooding and damage in South Texas due to Tropical Storm Nicholas, TDLR reminds all VSF owners and employees of the recent enactment of Senate Bill 860, 87th Regular Session. S.B. 860 amends current towing law relating to the exclusion of certain car haulers from the definition of a tow truck. S.B. 860 was effective September 1, 2021.

S.B. 860 amends Section 2308.002(11) of the Occupations Code to redefine "tow truck" to exclude “a car hauler that is used solely to transport, other than in a consent or nonconsent tow, motor vehicles as cargo in the course of a prearranged shipping transaction, or a commercial transaction for transport of a damaged vehicle arranged or authorized by an insurance company and delivered to a salvage pool operator as defined by Section 2302.001.”

TDLR-licensed VSFs must release a vehicle to a car hauler who meets the above definition (including UCRs) and who provides a valid state or federally issued ID, payment, and one of the instruments of release for the vehicle.

Read more about S.B. 860 here.

Notice to VSFs Accepting Property from a Self-Storage Facility

Senate Bill 1181, 87th Legislature, allows a self-storage facility to forego its lien on a vehicle, trailer, boat, or boat motor and transfer the property to a licensed vehicle storage facility (VSF), if there is a provision authorizing the transfer contained in the rental agreement between the lessor and the tenant. Licensed VSFs may, but are not required to, agree in writing to accept the transfer.

If the VSF agrees to accept a transfer, it can then exercise its existing statutory authority to sell the property after providing notice to the property owner as prescribed under current law. S.B. 1181 preserves all existing notice requirements to the property owner. Before taking possession of the vehicle, a VSF may wish to request a copy of the rental agreement and verify that it authorizes the transfer.

S.B. 1181 is effective September 1, 2021. Read the bill at Texas Legislature Online.

Proposed Rule Changes

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation proposes amendments to an existing rule for the Vehicle Storage Facilities program rule at 16 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 85, §85.722. The proposed amendments increase the allowable vehicle storage facility impoundment fee and daily storage fees in accordance with changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) during the preceding state fiscal biennium.

The proposed rule was published in the August 13, 2021, issue of the Texas Register (46 TexReg 4965). The Department will accept comments on the proposal until September 13, 2021.

The Department encourages anyone interested in the Vehicle Storage Facilities program to review the rule proposal online. Comments may be submitted electronically on the Department’s website.

Proposed Rule Changes

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation proposes amendments to an existing rule for the Vehicle Towing and Booting Program at 16 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 86, §86.455. The proposed amendments address the maximum amounts for private property tow fees and drop charges that may be charged by a towing company.

The proposed rule was published in the August 13, 2021, issue of the Texas Register (46 TexReg 4967). The Department will accept comments on the proposal until September 13, 2021.

The Department encourages anyone interested in the Vehicle Towing and Booting Program to review the rule proposal online. Comments may be submitted electronically on the Department’s website.

Release of Vehicles by VSFs to UCR Tow Trucks

Federally licensed Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) tow trucks that are performing consent tows are exempt from TDLR license requirements and do not need a TDLR tow license in order to remove a vehicle from a vehicle storage facility (VSF). If a UCR operator does not provide TDLR license numbers but has properly filled out the remainder of the VSF011 form or other instrument of release, the VSF must release the vehicle. A VSF cannot deny release of the vehicle because a UCR operator does not have or provide a TDLR license number.

Commission Adopts Administrative Rules

The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation adopted amendments to an existing rule to the Vehicle Towing and Booting program rule at 16 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 86, §86.700. The adopted amendments explicitly prohibit tow truck companies and tow truck operators from: (1) towing vehicles involved in Non-Consent tows to locations other than those stated in rule; (2) recommending that vehicles be towed to any location other than a licensed Vehicle Storage Facility; and (3) obtaining authorization from vehicle operators for repairs or any fees other than those required to perform the tow.

The adoption justification was published in the May 28, 2021, issue of the Texas Register (46 TexReg 3383). The updated rule chapter will be made available upon its effective date of June 1, 2021.

TOW/VSF Can Now Charge Consumers Credit Card Surcharge

Effective immediately licensees in the TOW/VSF program may charge consumers a credit card surcharge for those paying TOW/VSF costs with a credit card. This surcharge, also known as a credit card swipe fee, may not exceed the amount or percentage charged by a credit card issuer to use the card. The Department will provide additional guidance on this issue at a later date.

Rule Review Adoption Justification

At their meeting held March 3, 2021, the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation adopted the rule review of 16 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Chapters 85 and 86, Vehicle Storage Facilities, and Vehicle Towing and Booting, effective March 15, 2021.

The rule review adoption was published in the March 26, 2021 issue of the Texas Register (46 TexReg 2050).

TDLR encourages all persons interested in the Tow Trucks, Operators, and Vehicle Storage Facilities program to review the rule review adoption.

Private Property Towing for Expired Registration

Question: Can I perform a private property tow for a vehicle with an expired registration?

Answer: No. On March 13, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation, declaring a state of disaster for all counties in Texas due to the threat of COVID-19. Governor Abbott also issued a statement on March 16, 2020, granting a temporary extension to obtain an initial registration and renewal of registration for a vehicle. Tex. Occ. Code § 2308.253 (d) and (e) prohibit the towing of vehicles from private property on the basis of an expired license plate or registration unless certain requirements are met. Due to the extension granted for obtaining the initial registration or renewal of registration for a vehicle, tow companies may not tow vehicles from private property for expired registration or renewals until further notice.

COVID-19: Continuing Education Waived

TDLR continuing education requirements are waived for all individual licenses expiring in March, April, and May 2020. Licensees still need to submit their renewal applications, pay the required fees, and TDLR will check their criminal histories, but they will not need to complete any TDLR-required continuing education this licensing cycle. (§51.405, Occupations Code)

Note: TDLR is not authorized to waive continuing education requirements imposed by a certifying or credentialing entity other than TDLR. If a certifying entity requires continuing education to maintain certification, and certification is required for Texas licensure, then that continuing education must be completed. If the certifying entity waives continuing education or allows it to be completed on a delayed basis due to COVID-19, then you may follow the certifying entity’s policy.

Please check the TDLR COVID-19 webpage for the most up-to-date information.

Updates to Tow Trucks, Operators and Vehicle Storage Facilities Law(s)

This message is provided to notify you of changes to the Vehicle Towing and Booting law(s).

House Bill 1140 passed by the 86th Texas Legislature, amended Occupations Code, Chapter 2303, relating to fees for vehicles stored at vehicle storage facilities; authorizing fee increases and decreases; eliminating a fee; eliminating a minimum fee. House Bill 1140 and the changes to Chapter 2303 became effective June 14, 2019.

House Bill 4170 passed by the 86th Texas Legislature, amended Occupations Code, Chapter 2308, relating to nonsubstantive additions to, revisions of, and corrections in enacted codes, to the nonsubstantive codification or disposition of various laws omitted from enacted codes, and to conforming codifications enacted by the 85th Legislature to other Acts of that legislature. House Bill 4170 and the changes to Chapter 2308 became effective September 1, 2019.

TDLR encourages all persons interested in the Tow Trucks, Operators and Vehicle Storage Facilities program to review the updated Occupations Code, Chapters 2308 and 2303.

The updated rate are available in the rules and can found in Texas Administrative Code 85.722

Impoundment and Storage Fees Update

The 86th legislative session gave the Commission of Licensing and Regulation the ability to adjust the impoundment and storage fees based on the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Workers (CPI-U) by an amount equal to the fee in effect on December 31 of the preceding year. As of January 1st, 2020, vehicle storage facilities may charge the following rates for storage and impoundment.

Daily storage fee:

Per the 2019 biennial adjustment, starting January 1st, 2020 the maximum amount that a VSF may charge for a daily storage fee is as follows:

(A) Vehicle that is 25 feet or less in length: $20.64.

(B) Vehicle that exceeds 25 feet in length: $36.11.

Impound Fee:

Per the 2019 biennial adjustment, starting January 1st, 2020 the maximum amount that a VSF may charge for an impoundment fee is $20.64.

Tow Inspections Discontinued

Effective immediately, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) is discontinuing periodic inspections of tow companies. Local jurisdictions have ordinances overseeing tow company and tow truck operations, and the Texas Department of Transportation and Texas Department of Motor Vehicles also inspect tow trucks, depending on their size. Discontinuing these periodic, routine inspections will reduce the redundant regulatory burdens on this industry and allow both TDLR and licensees to more efficiently use their time and limited resources to perform additional time-intensive inspections of massage, cosmetology and vehicle storage facility establishments.

Texas law does not require TDLR to perform periodic inspections of tow companies or tow trucks. Further, there have been no serious health or safety violations identified by TDLR during these inspections. TDLR will continue to investigate complaints received regarding tow companies, check insurance, and perform spot inspections when necessary.

Emergency Consent Tow Licensing: October Severe Weather and Flooding

Under authority of Chapter 86, Texas Administrative Code, TDLR Executive Director Brian Francis has activated emergency consent tow provisions for the 54 Texas counties identified by Governor Greg Abbott in his October 16 and October 19, 2018 disaster declarations. These emergency provisions will help expedite recovery and cleanup efforts and allow more tow operators to assist our fellow Texans in their time of need.

The disaster area includes the following Texas counties: Aransas, Atascosa, Austin, Bandera, Bastrop, Baylor, Bee, Bexar, Blanco, Brazoria, Brazos, Brooks, Brown, Burleson, Burnet, Caldwell, Calhoun, Callahan, Cameron, Chambers, Coleman, Colorado, Comal, Comanche, DeWitt, Dimmit, Duval, Eastland, Edwards, Ellis, Erath, Fannin, Fayette, Fort Bend, Frio, Galveston, Gillespie, Goliad, Gonzales, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hamilton, Harris, Haskell, Hays, Hidalgo, Hill, Hood, Hopkins, Houston, Jackson, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Jones, Karnes, Kenedy, Kendall, Kerr, Kimble, Kinney, Kleberg, Knox, Lampasas, La Salle, Lavaca, Lee, Leon, Liberty, Live Oak, Llano, Madison, Mason, Matagorda, Maverick, McMullen, Medina, Mills, Montgomery, Nolan, Nueces, Palo Pinto, Parker, Polk, Real, Refugio, San Jacinto, San Patricio, San Saba, Shackelford, Somervell, Starr, Stephens, Sutton, Tarrant, Taylor, Throckmorton, Travis, Trinity, Uvalde, Val Verde, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Washington, Webb, Wharton, Willacy, Williamson, Wilson, Zapata, and Zavala counties.

Emergency consent tow operator license applications are now available from TDLR:

To be eligible, you must:

  • complete the online application;
  • hold a valid driver’s license issued by a state in the United States;
  • pass a background check; and
  • pay the consent tow operator license fee of $100.

The emergency consent tow operator license may ONLY be used for consent tow services performed in the 54 counties in the Governor’s October 16 and October 19, 2018 disaster declarations.

An emergency consent tow operator must carry this license at all times when performing tow operations, and must allow TDLR and law enforcement personnel to inspect their tow truck at any time.

Emergency Consent Tow Truck Permit. Call 800-803-9202. To receive an emergency consent tow truck permit, your tow truck must be affiliated with a TDLR-licensed tow company. See Requirements for Emergency Consent Tow Truck Permit.

If your tow truck is already affiliated with a TDLR-licensed tow company, the company can simply add your vehicle information to their account online using the online TOOLS system and print out the permit (also referred to as a “cab card”). If your tow truck is not affiliated with a TDLR-licensed tow company, you must apply for an emergency consent tow company license in order to receive the emergency consent tow truck permit.

Emergency Consent Tow Company License. Call 800-803-9202. TDLR’s licensing team will expedite your emergency consent tow company license application over the phone. You can also add your tow truck(s) during this process to get your emergency consent tow truck permit (cab card). Note: the tow company application process requires that your insurance company file your insurance information using TDLR’s online TOOLS system. See Requirements for Emergency Tow Company License.

Notice to all Vehicle Storage Facilities in a declared disaster area: All emergency consent tow licenses must be accepted as identification for vehicle pick-up or drop-off at your facility, just as any regular consent tow license would.

For questions or help, please email or call TDLR at 1-800-803-9202 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Advisory Board Meetings

September 15, 2021

The Towing and Storage Advisory Board met September 15, 2021 via videoconference. The agenda and staff reports are available online. The meeting was archived and is available on TDLR's YouTube channel.