Frequently Asked Questions


Licensing and Registration Fees

1. Who must be licensed or have a permit?

Tow truck companies, tow truck vehicles, and vehicle storage facilities must be licensed or have a permit. Tow truck drivers, employees of vehicle storage facilities, booting companies, and boot operators must also be licensed.

2. How much does it cost to register and renew?

Type of Registration New Application Annual Renewal Late Fees (1-90 days) Late Fees (91 days - 18 months)
Tow Truck Company $350 $350 $525 $700
Tow Truck Permit (each truck) $75 $75 $112.50 $150
Tow Truck Operator (driver) $100 $100 $150 $200
Vehicle Storage Facility (VSF) $250 $250 $375 $500
VSF Employee $75 $75 $112.50 $150
Booting Company $250 $250 $375 $500
Boot Operator $75 $75 $112.50 $150
Towing Operator Trainer $25 n/a n/a n/a

**All fees are non-refundable**

To stay informed of any fee or rule changes, please sign up for email updates.

3. What are the different types of permits for tow trucks?

Each tow truck is required to have a permit in one of the following areas:

  • Incident Management (IM) Permit - Required for a tow truck used to perform a non-consent tow initiated by a peace officer, or to perform a tow from a traffic incident or accident. IM tow trucks may also perform Private Property and Consent Tows.
  • Private Property (PP) Permit - Required for a tow truck used to perform a non-consent tow authorized by a parking facility owner. PP tow trucks may also do Consent Tows.
  • Consent Tow (CT) Permit - Required for a tow truck used to perform a consent tow authorized by the owner of the vehicle. CT tow trucks may only do Consent Tows.

4. What are the different types of licenses for tow truck operators (drivers)?

All tow truck operators (drivers) are required to have one of the following licenses:

  • Incident Management (IM) License - Required to operate a tow truck with an Incident Management Permit. A driver with an IM License may also operate a tow truck with a Private Property Permit or Consent Tow Permit.
  • Private Property (PP) License - Required to operate a tow truck with a Private Property Permit. A driver with a PP License may also operate a truck with a Consent Tow Permit but may not operate a truck with an IM Permit.
  • Consent Tow (CT) License - Required to operate a tow truck that has a Consent Tow Permit. A driver with a CP License may not operate a tow truck that has an IM Permit or PP Permit.

Each of the above license types can also be paired with a VSF Employee registration for a Dual Tow Operator/VSF Employee License.

5. What are the different types of tows?

  • Incident Management tow - Any tow of a vehicle in which the tow truck is summoned because of a traffic accident or to an incident, or any tow initiated by law enforcement.
  • Private Property tow - Any tow of a vehicle authorized by the owner of a parking facility (for example, an apartment building parking lot, restaurant, paid parking lot) without the consent of the owner or operator of the vehicle.
  • Consent Tow - Any tow of a motor vehicle in which the tow truck is summoned by the owner or operator of the vehicle, or by a person who has possession, custody, or control of the vehicle.

6. What are the different equipment and insurance requirements for each tow truck?

  • Incident Management (IM) Trucks - Must be equipped for light or heavy duty according to the manufacturer's guidelines. Amount of Insurance Required: Liability - $500,000; On-Hook Cargo - $50,000
  • Private Property (PP) Trucks - Must be equipped for light or heavy duty according to the manufacturer's guidelines. Amount of Insurance Required: Liability - $300,000; On-Hook Cargo - $50,000
  • Consent Tow (CT) Trucks - Must be equipped for light or heavy duty according to the manufacturer's guidelines. Amount of Insurance Required: Liability - $300,000; On-Hook Cargo - none

7. What are the requirements for each tow truck operator license?

Incident Management and Private PropertyLicenses must:

  • Submit a completed application on a department-approved form;
  • Hold a valid driver's license issued by a state in the United States;
  • Be certified by a program approved by the department;
  • Pass a criminal background check; and
  • Pay the fee required under §86.800.

To renew an IM towing operator's license the first time, a licensee must complete a professional development course relating to towing that meets the requirements of Rule 86.250(j).

Consent Tow License must:

  • Submit a completed application on a department-approved form;
  • Hold a valid driver's license issued by a state in the United States;
  • Pass a criminal background check; and
  • Pay the fee required under §86.800.

Note: An applicant for a CT License does not need to be certified by a program approved by the department.

8. How do I get my tow company license, tow truck permit, and/or vehicle storage facility license for the first time?

1) Request a new account to be set up for online registration by calling (800) 803-9202 to speak with a Customer Service Representative. A member of the Licensing Team will contact you to set up your application over the phone, and provide you with a certificate and PIN number. This certificate and PIN number will allow you to complete the application online at your convenience, and pay the registration fees by credit or debit card. Please note that all fees are non-refundable.

2) Contact your insurance company and provide them with your certificate number after your application is completed and the fees are paid. They will file your insurance information online with TDLR. As part of the application process, all controlling persons of your company must successfully pass a criminal background check conducted by TDLR.

3) You will be able to print cab cards and/or your company license once your insurance is active in our system.

9. How do I get my tow truck operator's license and/or VSF employee license for the first time?

Visit our Online Licensing Services to complete your application and pay the required fees. Please note that Incident Management (IM) and Private Property (PP) Towing Operators are required to be certified by the National Drivers Certification Program of the Towing and Recovery Association of America, AAA-Texas, Towing and Recovery Association of America, Texas Towing and Storage Association, Southwest Tow Operators Association, TOWS (Training of Wrecker Services), or the proctored program from WreckMaster, Inc. Currently these programs are the only acceptable certification programs. TDLR does not provide certification classes or certifications. Additional certification programs may be approved in the future. Certification must be obtained before drivers are eligible for an IM or PP license. Applicants for the Consent Towing License do not need to be certified.

You may also download and print a hard copy application, and mail it in to TDLR with the appropriate fee. All applicants must successfully pass a criminal background check conducted by TDLR before their license can be issued.

10. How do I apply for a Tow Operator Training license?

Complete an application available from our web site. All first-time applicants must submit a paper application along with the required fee. Please note that all fees are non-refundable.

Tow Operator Training Application Fee: $25 - The Tow Operator Training License is available to those who are engaged in the process of learning and assisting in the operation of a tow truck under the supervision of a licensed tow truck operator. To be eligible, you must hold a valid state driver's license (U.S. only) and successfully pass a criminal background check conducted by TDLR. The Tow Operator Training license is only valid for 90 days from the date of issuance.

All applicants must successfully pass a criminal background check conducted by TDLR before their license can be issued.

11. How do I get my booting company or boot operator license for the first time?

For a booting company: submit a paper application with certificate of insurance and $250 registration fee. Include background information (Attachment A) for all controlling persons.

For a boot operator: submit a paper application with the $75 registration fee.

All booting company controlling persons and boot operators must successfully pass a criminal background check conducted by TDLR before a license will be issued. Please note that all fees are non-refundable.

For more information on Vehicle Booting, please see the Vehicle Booting and Immobilization Administrative Rules.

12. Do you take walk-in registration applications, and how long does it take to process an application?

Yes, we accept walk-in registration applications. A tow company or vehicle storage facility application can be completed using the kiosk in our first floor lobby the same day if you are paying by credit card, and will be active once your insurance company files their information online and a criminal background check is completed. Incomplete applications or applications that require an extensive review of criminal background information may take longer.

All other paper applications with check or money order can be brought to the lobby, but require a minimum of three business days for processing, in addition to any time required for review of criminal background information (if applicable).

Visit our lobby at 920 Colorado St. (across the street from the Governor's Mansion) in downtown Austin, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

13. How do I check the status of my application?

You can check the status of your Tow Company of VSF Company application using our online TOOLS system, or by calling Customer Service at (800) 803-9202. You must have a certificate and PIN number to use the TOOLS system.

For questions about your Tow Operator (single or dual), VSF Employee, Boot Operator, or Booting Company application, please call Customer Service at (800) 803-9202.

14. How do I get my certificate and PIN number?

See #9 above.

15. Will a criminal conviction prevent me from getting a license?

Criminal convictions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Licenses may be denied based on the nature of the conviction and how long prior to the application the conviction occurred. More detailed information on our criminal conviction guidelines is on our web site.

16. Where can I find the Criminal History Questionnaire (CHQ)? Do I have to include a CHQ with my application?

The CHQ is available to download and print on our web site at http://www.tdlr.texas.gov/MISC/lic002.pdf.

TDLR must review your criminal history to determine if you are eligible to obtain or keep a license. Depending on your criminal history, a review can take from one to six weeks to complete. Complete this form only if you have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, other than a minor traffic violation, or pleaded guilty or no contest (resulting in a deferred adjudication) to any criminal offense. Be specific and provide exact details. Attach a separate form for each crime. Questions regarding this form may be addressed to TDLR's Enforcement Division at enforcement@tdlr.texas.gov or by phone at (512)539‐5600.

17. Where can I find a Disciplinary Action Questionnaire (DAQ)? Do I have to include a DAQ with my application?

The DAQ is available to download and print on our web site at http://www.tdlr.texas.gov/misc/Disciplinary Action Questionnaire.pdf.

If you have had an occupational license revoked, suspended, probated or denied in any state, county, or municipality, TDLR must review your disciplinary action history to determine if you are eligible to obtain a license. (This does not include revocation of a driver's license.) Please provide specific information and exact details. Questions regarding this form may be addressed to TDLR's Enforcement Division at enforcement@tdlr.texas.gov or by phone at (512) 463-2906.

18. Can I request a criminal history evaluation before I apply?

Yes. You may request a Criminal History Evaluation Letter (CHEL) by filling out a request form, completing a criminal history questionnaire for each crime for which you were convicted or placed on deferred adjudication, and paying the $25.00 request fee. TDLR will not process a request form that is submitted without a criminal history questionnaire attached, or submitted without payment of the fee.

The request forms and more information are available at the Criminal History Evaluation Letter section of our web site. Download the form for the specific license type for which you are applying.

19. How do I request a duplicate license for a Tow Operator, VSF Employee, Dual Operator, or Boot Operator?

Please send a written request, including your full name, license number, and current address, with a processing fee of $25 to:

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation
P.O. Box 12157
Austin, TX 78711-2157

20. How do I change my address or phone number?

Tow Companies: From your TOOLS page, select 'Update Form' from the blue menu on the left side of the screen, and click 'Change Address'. There is a $25 processing fee for this service. You may change your address during renewals for no charge.

Tow Operator, VSF Employee, Dual Operator, or Boot Operator: You can update your address and other personal information online at any time, during your renewal period, or you may send us the information by mail, fax, or email:

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation
P.O. Box 12157
Austin, TX 78711-2157
FAX: 512-463-5984

EMAIL: towing@tdlr.texas.gov

If you mail in your changes, please include your TDLR license or permit number, previous address and new address, name of the person making the request, and a daytime phone number where we can reach you.

Vehicle Storage Facility: A Vehicle Storage Facility cannot change their physical address. Any change of location requires a new license. To change the mailing address only: from your TOOLS page, select 'Update Form' from the blue menu on the left side of the screen, then click 'Change Address'. There is a $25 processing fee for this service. You may change your mailing address during renewals for no charge.

21. How do I delete a vehicle from my tow company certificate?

To delete a vehicle, you must complete form TOW005, Tow Truck Add, Delete, and Change form. You may submit the form by fax, email, or regular mail. The form must be signed by a controlling person(s) on file with the Department.

Renewing a Permit or License

1. How do I renew my Tow Truck Company or Vehicle Storage Facility license?

All licenses and permits must be renewed annually, and tow truck companies and vehicle storage facilities can be renewed quickly and easily online.

Tow truck companies may use the online TOOLS system 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to renew their company license and tow truck permits, and add or delete tow trucks as needed.

Vehicle Storage Facilities also use the online TOOLS system to renew their licenses, or make changes to their information.

Please note: in order to renew, you must have current, active insurance information filed in the TOOLS system by your insurance underwriter. You cannot renew your license unless you have active insurance on file. It is the responsibility of the licensee to maintain current insurance information. Failure to renew on time due to inactive insurance will result in late fee penalties (see #2 in Licensing and Registration Fees for Renewal fees and Late fees).

In addition, all controlling persons associated with the company must pass a criminal background check at each renewal.

2. How do I renew my Tow Truck Operator or VSF Employee license?

Tow Truck Operator (driver) licenses and VSF Employee licenses can be renewed using TDLR's Online Licensing Services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Prior to your first renewal, Incident Management (IM) operators must complete a Professional Development Course relating to towing that is licensed or certified by the National Safety Council, or complete another course approved by TDLR. Private Property (PP) and Consent Tow (CT) operators must complete a total of four (4) hours of continuing education through TLDR-approved courses in order to renew their license.

If you choose not to renew online, return the renewal postcard to TDLR to receive a paper renewal form.

3. How do I renew my Booting Company or Boot Operator license?

Booting Company ' Complete and return the renewal form which will be mailed to you approximately 60 days prior to your license expiration.

Boot Operator - Licenses can be renewed using TDLR's Online Licensing Services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You must complete a total of 2 hours of continuing education through TDLR-approved courses. The continuing education hours must include 1 hour in Texas law and rules that regulate the conduct of booting operators, and 1 hour in any course in driver safety, booting techniques, equipment operation and safety, and/or customer service and documentation.

If you choose not to renew online, return the renewal postcard to TDLR to receive a paper renewal form.

4. How do I renew my Dual Tow Operator / VSF Employee license?

Dual Tow Operator/VSF Employee licenses can be renewed using TDLR's Online Licensing Services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Dual Tow Operators have the same continuing education requirements as a regular Tow Operator see #2 above.

If you choose not to renew online, return the renewal postcard to TDLR to receive a paper renewal form.

5. If my license has been expired for more than 18 months, can I still renew it?

If your license has been expired for more than 18 months but less than 3 years, you may submit for approval a written request stating the reason your license should be renewed or 'Request to Executive Director for Expired Renewal' form with a fee in the amount of two times the normal renewal fee.

If your license has been expired for more than 3 years you may not renew your license. You must re-apply for a new license.

You may be subject to enforcement actions, including administrative penalties and sanctions, for operating with an expired license (expired less than 18 months) or operating without a license (expired 18 months or more).

Continuing Education and Professional Development Courses

1. Do I have to take Continuing Education (CE) courses to renew my Tow Truck operator license?

Yes. Private Property (PP) and Consent Tow (CT) operators must complete a total of four (4) hours of continuing education (CE) through TDLR-approved courses to renew their license.

Incident Management (IM) operators must complete an eight (8) hour professional development course before renewing for the first time. After the first renewal, IM operators must complete four (4) hours of continuing education (CE) prior to each subsequent renewal.

2. What is a Professional Development Course?

The Professional Development Course is a required course that IM operators must complete before they renew their license for the first time. The course has at least 8 hours of training, including:

  • At least 2 hours of live demonstration and hands-on training; and
  • At least 2 hours of classroom training.

The course must be taken through a TDLR-approved provider.

Here is a list of TDLR-approved providers and their contact information

3. Do I have to take Continuing Education (CE) courses to renew my Dual Tow Truck Operator license?

Yes. The CE requirements for all dual licenses are the same as their respective tow operator license requirements. See answer #1 above.

4. When do I have to complete the Continuing Education (CE) courses?

You must complete the CE courses within the previous year of the license being renewed. For example, if your license expires August 1, 2011, the CE courses must be completed between August 1, 2010 and August 1, 2011.

For a late renewal, the courses must have been completed within the one year period immediately prior to your expiration date.

If you find that the hours for your completed courses have not been reported, please contact the education provider - it is their responsibility to report the hours to TDLR. If there is a dispute and the reporting issue is not resolved, you may file a complaint online.

5. How do I submit proof that I have completed a Professional Development Course?

The information must be submitted electronically by the education provider. If your information has not been submitted to TDLR, you must contact the education provider. Do not send your certificates or paperwork to TDLR.

6. Where can I check to see if my completed courses have been reported?

Check your completed courses online on our website.

7. I have a Consent Tow (CT) or Private Property (PP) operator license. Do I need to take a Professional Development Course?

No, CT and PP operators are not required to complete a Professional Development Course to renew their license. CT and PP operators are only required to complete four hours of Continuing Education for each renewal period.

8. Can the Continuing Education courses be completed online?

Yes, most of the education providers offer online courses. The courses are self-paced, and can be completed at your convenience.

9. Can the Professional Development Courses be completed online?

No. The Professional Development Courses include live demonstration, hands-on training, and classroom training. They must be completed in person.

10. Does my TDLR license renewal fee include the cost of Continuing Education or Professional Development Courses?

No. The fees for the courses are separate, and are established by and paid to the continuing education provider, not to TDLR.

11. Do I have to take Continuing Education (CE) courses to renew my Boot Operator license?

Yes, you must complete a total of 2 hours of CE through TDLR-approved courses. The CE hours must include 1 hour in Texas law and rules that regulate the conduct of booting operators, and 1 hour in any course in driver safety, booting techniques, equipment operation and safety, and/or customer service and documentation.

12. Are Continuing Education courses required in order to renew every year?

Yes, this is an annual requirement for all Tow Operators and Boot Operators.

Nonconsent Tow Fee Schedules

1. Do tow companies that perform nonconsent tows have to submit a nonconsent tow fee schedule to vehicle storage facilities?

Yes. In accordance with Texas Administrative Code §86.706(a), 'A towing company must provide its nonconsent towing fees schedule to all vehicle storage facilities to which the towing company delivers vehicles for storage.'

2. What should be listed on a nonconsent tow rate sheet sent to the vehicle storage facility?

Clearly separate and label fees charged for private property towing from fees charged for incident management towing;

  • Clearly separate and label fees charged in areas without a towing ordinance from those fees that may be charged in political subdivisions (such as cities) with towing ordinances;
  • If you only perform one type of towing, you must label the fees on your nonconsent tow fee schedule as either incident management or private property;
  • For incident management towing, only list fees directly related to towing a vehicle; and
  • For private property towing, you may only list light duty, medium duty, and heavy duty tow fees and drop fees.

Private Property Towing Fees

1. Are there rules about the amount I can charge for a private property tow?

Yes. A tow company performing private property tows may not charge more than the private property statewide maximum tow amounts.

2. What are the statewide maximum amounts for private property tows?

For a Light Duty Private Property Tow, the Maximum Tow Fee is $255 and the Maximum Drop Fee is $127.

For a Medium Duty Private Property Tow, the Maximum Tow Fee is $357 and the Maximum Drop Fee is $178.

For a Heavy Duty Private Property Tow, the Maximum Tow Fee is $459 per unit with a maximum $918 total. The maximum Drop Fee is $229 per unit and $458 in total.

3. Can a local community establish lower private property tow fees?

Yes. Local municipalities or counties can establish charges less than the statewide rates.

4. How do I determine if a tow is Light Duty, Medium Duty, or Heavy Duty?

  • If the towed vehicle is 10,000 lbs or less, it is a light duty tow.
  • If the towed vehicle is between 10,001 and 24,999 lbs, it is a medium duty tow.
  • If the towed vehicle is 25,000 lbs or more, it is a heavy duty tow.

Drop Fees

1. What is a drop fee?

A drop fee is a charge which allows the vehicle operator to stop a private property tow without paying the full tow fee. Charges may not be more than one half the maximum tow fee.

2. Do I have to offer to unhook the vehicle for a drop fee, if the owner or operator arrives when the vehicle is in tow, but before I've left the property?

Yes. If the vehicle is fully hooked up and you are in transport, but you are still on the property, you are required to tell the owner or operator that they may pay a drop fee and keep their vehicle.

3. Do I have to offer to unhook the vehicle for a drop fee if the owner or operator arrives after I've left the property with the vehicle in tow?

No, once you are in transport on a public roadway and off the private property, you may proceed to a licensed vehicle storage facility.

4. What does the term "hooked up" mean?

Hooked up means the vehicle is fully prepared for transport by attachment to a tow truck, lifted in tow position, with tow lights and safety chains attached and, if required, placed on a dolly in a raised position and the only thing remaining is for the tow operator to drive away.

5. What does the phrase vehicle owner or representative "attempts to retrieve the motor vehicle" mean?

For purposes of paying the drop charge, the terms vehicle owner or representative means any person who offers to pay the drop charge to stop the tow. The phrase 'attempt to retrieve the motor vehicle' means any verbal request that a reasonable person would understand to mean, "Do not tow my car."

6. What does the phrase "before its removal from the property" mean?

The phrase "before its removal from the property" means the tow truck and vehicle have not yet entered a public roadway and is still on private property. Until the tow truck enters a public street, road or highway, the vehicle owner or operator has an absolute right to regain possession of the vehicle by payment of the drop charge.

7. Can I charge a drop fee if the owner or operator arrives to move the vehicle before I have it fully hooked up?

No, you may not charge a drop fee. You must allow the owner or operator to move the vehicle.

8. Can I charge a drop fee if the owner or operator arrives after the car is hooked up but before I've left the property or its parked location?

Yes. You must tell the owner or operator that they can pay you on the spot to drop the vehicle.

9. What form of payment can an owner or operator use to pay for a drop fee?

You must accept cash, debit cards and credit cards.

Pre-Arranged Consent Tows

1. I heard that I no longer need my consent tow license or permit to do a consent tow, is that true?

No, that is not true. If you perform any tows (even just one) that are called in or requested by the owner or operator of the vehicle or by a person who has possession, custody, or control of the vehicle you still need a consent tow operator’s license and the truck must be permitted as a consent tow truck.

2. Did the towing law change to no longer require a consent tow license or permit?

No, the law did not change for consent tow operators or consent tow trucks. However, the law recognizes that vehicles used only to transport motor vehicles as cargo in the course of prearranged shipping transaction are not defined as tow trucks. 

3. What is the difference between a consent tow and a prearranged shipping transaction?

If the transport is arranged by a company for shipping or delivery to another company (a commercial transaction) and those are the only type of transports performed by that truck, it’s more likely than not exempt from the definition of a tow truck.  If you perform any tows that are called in or requested by the owner or operator of the vehicle or by a person who has possession, custody, or control of the vehicle you still need a consent tow operator’s license and the truck must be permitted as a consent tow truck.

4. Before the law changed, I used my tow truck to perform consent tows; now that the law has changed, can I drop my consent tow license and start using the truck to do prearranged shipping transactions?

No. If the tow truck was used to perform a single consent after September 1, 2015 (the effective date of the change in law) the truck must have a consent tow permit.

Compliance and Enforcement

1. How does TDLR conduct inspections?

TDLR conducts periodic and risk-based inspections of tow trucks, tow truck companies and vehicle storage facilities to ensure compliance with the law.

Periodic inspections occur at least once every two years. TDLR may conduct additional risk-based inspections if a company is found to be not in compliance with the law. TDLR may inspect a vehicle, a facility, business records, or any other place or anything reasonably required to determine compliance with the law. The company may be required to pay for risk-based inspections.

2. Will a criminal conviction prevent me from getting a license?

Criminal convictions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Licenses may be denied based on the nature of the conviction and how long prior to the application the conviction occurred. See our Criminal Conviction Guidelines for more information.

3. Can I have my criminal history checked before I apply for a license?

Yes. Individuals may request TDLR review their criminal background before actually applying for a license. TDLR uses the same process for this pre‑application evaluation as the process described below. See the Criminal History Evaluation Letter page (www.tdlr.texas.gov/crimHistoryEval.htm) for more information

Drug Testing Policy

1. What options does a licensed company have for complying with the drug testing requirements?

You can choose one of three options:

2. Where can I find the list of TDLR-approved drug testing consortiums?

The TDLR approved drug testing consortiums are listed in the drop-down menu under Drug Policy Update in the TOOLS system, or on our web page.

3. How do I comply with the TDLR Model Policy, or join a drug testing consortium?

By selecting the TDLR Model Policy on your application, you are confirming that your company drug testing policy will follow these general guidelines:

  • You must require a pre-employment drug test for each towing operator or employee.
  • You must require an annual drug test for each towing operator or employee.
  • You must randomly select at least 25% of towing operators or employees for drug testing annually.
  • Employees must not engage in the manufacture, sale, distribution, use, or unauthorized possession of illegal drugs at any time.
  • Employees must not take or be under the influence of any drugs, unless prescribed by the employee's licensed physician.
  • If an employee is convicted of violating a criminal drug statute, they must inform their supervisor within five days of the conviction. If the employee fails to notify the employer, the employee can be fired.
  • The company must notify TDLR of the conviction (including pleas of guilty and nolo contendere).
  • Before taking a drug test, all employees must sign a drug testing procedures consent form. This form is available on our web site at www.tdlr.texas.gov/towing/forms/drugtesting.pdf. This consent form should be kept on company premises at all times. Do not send this form to TDLR.

If you are the sole employee at your own tow company, you are only subject to the pre-employment drug screen and the annual drug screen.

4. What types of substances are included in the testing?

Marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, phencyclidine (PCP), opiates, and alcohol.

5. Is the company required to notify TDLR of a positive test result?

Yes, the company must notify us within 3 days of receipt of a confirmed positive test result. Fax a copy of confirmed results to (512) 463-2951. The notification must include:

a) employee's name;

b) employee's license number;

c) date of the positive test;

d) substance detected by the drug test; and

e) disciplinary action imposed.

Please include a cover sheet with your contact information.

6. Do I need to send TDLR negative test results?

No, do not send in negative test results. Keep them for your records.

7. What happens if an employee or applicant tests positive for illegal drugs?

  • Applicants will be denied employment if they test positive on the pre-employment test.
  • Once a positive drug test result has been confirmed, employees must stop all duties and may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
  • In determining the appropriate disciplinary action, the company may consider the employee's work history, length of employment, current work assignment, current job performance, and any past disciplinary actions.
  • No disciplinary action may be taken against employees who voluntarily identify themselves as drug users, obtain counseling, rehabilitation, and comply with return-to-duty and follow-up drug testing.

8. What type of information do I need to give my employees about drugs and drug testing?

Employers must display and distribute the following information to their employees:

  1. Company policy regarding the use of prohibited drugs and/or alcohol;
  2. Consequences or disciplinary action that may be imposed for violating the drug policy;
  3. Informational material on the physical and mental effects of drugs; and
  4. An existing community services hotline number, available drug counseling, rehabilitation, and assistance program.

10. Can we file our own drug policy with TDLR?

Yes, you may submit your own independent drug testing policy for our review and approval. An independent policy must be at least as stringent as the TDLR Model Policy.

11. I own a tow company and a vehicle storage facility that is a member of a TDLR-approved drug testing consortium. How many of my employees are required to be randomly drug tested every year?

You must make sure that the consortium performs random drug testing on at least 25% of all the tow operators employed by or under contract with your tow company and 25% of all the vehicle storage facility employees employed by or under contract with your vehicle storage facility.

For more specific information on Drug Testing Policy rules and regulations, please see Section 86.710 (Tow Company) and Section 85.725 (VSF) of the Administrative Rules at www.tdlr.texas.gov/towing/towing.htm

Vehicle Storage Facility Practices

1. What forms of payment must a VSF accept?

A vehicle storage facility must accept the following forms of payment:

  • Cash;
  • Debit card, and
  • Credit card

In addition, a vehicle storage facility must post a sign that reads:

'This vehicle storage facility must accept payment by cash, debit card, and credit card for any fee or charge associated with delivery or storage of a vehicle.'

2. What fees can a VSF charge, and how much are those charges?

  • A VSF is allowed to collect fees for the towing of a vehicle, but only the fees that are directly related to the tow.
  • A VSF is allowed to charge a daily storage rate of $20/day for vehicles that are 25 feet in length or less, and $35/day for vehicles over 25 feet in length.
    1. If the first notification to the owner and lienholder is not sent by the fifth day (if registered in Texas) or the 14 day (if registered in another state), the VSF cannot charge any storage until 24 hours after the notice is sent.
    2. If the second notice to the owner and lienholder is not sent before the 21st day after the date the first notice is mailed, the VSF must stop storage and can only restart storage 24 hours after the notice is mailed.  
  • A VSF may charge a one-time $20 fee for the impoundment of a vehicle. This fee is for tarping and locking the vehicle if necessary, for running the motor vehicle registration, and/or for conducting an inventory and securing all unsecured property. (NOTE: A VSF is not required to do an inventory.)
  • A VSF may send a onetime fee of $50 for sending notification letters to the owners and all lienholders on the vehicle.
    1. For vehicles registered in Texas the notification letter:
      • Must be sent certified mail return receipt requested, or electronic certified mail;
      • Must be sent by the fifth day the vehicle is on the lot; and
      • Cannot be sent until the vehicle is on the lot for at least 24 hours.
    2. For vehicles registered in another state:
      • Must be sent certified mail return receipt requested, or electronic certified mail;
      • Must be sent by the 14th day the vehicle is on the lot;
      • Cannot be sent until the vehicle is on the lot for at least 24 hours.
  • At this time, an environmental fee cannot be charged by a VSF.
  • A VSF may collect a governmental entity fee if required by the jurisdiction where the vehicle is stored.

3. Can a VSF employee charge a notary fee for notarizing my vehicle release documents?

No. A VSF operator may not charge any additional fees other than permissible towing fees and VSF charges. Currently, the only permissible VSF charges are a notification fee, an impound fee, a daily storage fee and in some locations, a governmental entity fee.

4. Can a VSF require a vehicle owner to pay a processing fee for a credit card?

No. A VSF must accept electronic payment, and cannot pass the charge of taking that payment on to the vehicle owner.

5. What documents does a VSF need in order to release a vehicle?

In order to release a vehicle, the VSF must first be paid all fees associated with delivery or storage of the vehicle. Acceptable documents to release the vehicle include a valid state or federally issued I.D. (the identification can be from another country such as Mexico) and one of the following:

  1. Notarized power-of-attorney;
  2. Court order;
  3. Certificate of title*;
  4. Tax collector's receipt with vehicle registration renewal card accompanied by a conforming identification;
  5. Name and address information corresponding to that contained in the files of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles;
  6. Current automobile lease or rental agreement executed by the operator of the vehicle or a person holding a power of attorney executed by the person named in the lease agreement;
  7. Appropriate identification of any state or federal law enforcement agency representative;
  8. Most recent version of a department-approved form or electronic version of a department-approved form published on the department's website, www.tdlr.texas.gov; which the VSF must make available to the vehicle owner or person seeking possession of or access to the vehicle; or
  9. Proof of financial responsibility (insurance card), as required by Transportation Code §60.1.051, as an additional form of identification that establishes ownership or right of possession or control of the vehicle.

If a VSF receives any one of these things, in addition to the valid state or federally issued ID, and receives payment of all fees, they must release the vehicle.

The VSF must accept a vehicle title as an instrument of release even if the person presenting the title is not the name on the front or back of the title. 

6. Who can get access to the property in a vehicle located at a VSF? Can the VSF charge me for getting my own stuff?

Anyone claiming to be the owner or operator of a vehicle can have access to the property in a vehicle in order to obtain documentation that can be used to release the vehicle.

Anyone who can demonstrate that they are the owner or have a right to possess the vehicle, or are an authorized representative of the owner, may obtain possessions out of the vehicle.

A VSF may not charge to get possessions out of the vehicle for a vehicle stored without the owner's consent.
NOTE: Repossession is a consent tow and consensual storage of a vehicle; TDLR does not have jurisdiction over the storage of these vehicles.

7. If a vehicle is put on hold at the time of tow and stays on hold while in my lot, who is responsible for the cost?

If a vehicle is placed on hold for evidentiary or examination purposes, the law enforcement agency that ordered the hold of the vehicle is responsible for the cost of towing and storage of the vehicle, up until the time the hold on the vehicle is removed. (See Article 18.23 of the Code of Criminal Procedure)

8. The person picking up the vehicle has one of the instruments of release and a valid state ID - am I required to make sure they also have valid insurance?

No. If the person picking up the vehicle has an instrument of release and a federal or state issued ID, and pays all the charges, the VSF MUST release the vehicle.

9. The law enforcement agency in my county/city requires us to check that the person picking up the vehicle has insurance before we release the vehicle to them. What should I do?

If the person picking up the vehicle has an instrument of release and a federal or state issued ID, and pays all the charges, the VSF MUST release the vehicle regardless of any local requirement.

10. Can a VSF accept a release form if it is notarized in another state or the notary information is on a separate document?

A VSF MUST accept a release form even if it is notarized in another state or the notary seal and affirmation statement is on a separate document. Documents notarized out of state are valid and must be accepted by storage facilities for release of vehicles even if the form or format of the notarization is different from the one designed for use by Texas notaries.

Tow and/or Boot Company Practices

1. I am a towing and/or booting company. Can I install the signs prohibiting unauthorized vehicles required by Section 2308.301?

Yes. The Towing and Booting Act states a parking facility owner may not receive financial gain from a towing or booting company. However, the signs prohibiting unauthorized vehicles are not considered a financial gain.

Unauthorized Vehicles on Homeowners' Property

1. Can a homeowner who charges a parking fee have a vehicle towed that is parked illegally?

If the homeowner posts signs that meet the requirements of Sec. 2308.252, then yes, the homeowner may have an unauthorized vehicle towed from the home without notifying law enforcement.

2. I do not charge for parking in my driveway, but someone parked in it without my permission. Can I have them towed or do I have to call the police?

If a homeowner does not charge to park vehicles on his or her property, then yes, under state law an unauthorized vehicle may be towed from the property without having posted 'no parking' signs. However, since some cities also regulate the towing of vehicles, you should also check with local authorities.

Information and Staying Informed

1. How will I be notified of administrative rule changes?

The easiest way to stay informed of rule changes and proposals for rule changes is to sign up for email updates. Rule changes and proposals for rule changes are also published in the Texas Register.

2. Where can I get a copy of the administrative rules?

Administrative rules are available for viewing and downloading on our web site at www.tdlr.texas.gov/towing/towing.htm.

First Notice to Owner and Lienholders

Timeline for sending the first notice to the vehicle owner and lienholders

1. What is the timeline for sending the first notice to the owner and lienholders of a vehicle?

If the vehicle is registered in Texas the notice must be sent by the fifth day it is on the lot.

If the vehicle is registered in another state, the notice must be sent by the 14th day the vehicle is on the lot.

Regardless of where the vehicle is registered, the vehicle must be on the lot for at least 24 hours before the notice is sent.

Consequences for not mailing or publishing notice on time

2. If the notice isn’t mailed or published on time can I still charge storage?

If the notice is not sent on time you cannot charge any storage until 24 hours after the notice is mailed or published.

Vehicles with unknown state of registration

3. If a vehicle has no license plates and I cannot read the VIN number, how do I notify the owner and lienholders?

If you do not know the state, the vehicle is registered in, you must run a report through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.

If the report shows the state of registration, you must attempt to obtain the record from that state either by mail or electronically.

If you can’t get the record from that state by the 14th day, cannot determine the owner and lienholders from the report, or obtain an address for the owner and lienholders you may publish the notification.

Second Notice to Owner and Lienholders

Notice of Abandonment to law enforcement agencies

1. Are VSFs required to notify law enforcement every time a vehicle that is towed and stored to a VSF is abandoned? An abandoned vehicle is one that has not been reclaimed by the vehicle’s owner or lienholder by the 10th day after the date the VSF mailed or published the first notice.

No. A VSF is only required to notify law enforcement of abandoned vehicles left at the VSF if the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the VSF requests such notifications. 

If the law enforcement agency wants notifications regarding abandoned vehicles, then the VSF shall pay the required fee listed in Section 683.031 of the Transportation Code. 

If the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the VSF does not want notifications of abandoned vehicles, then the VSF is not required to do anything.

2. How will I know if I need to send the notice of abandonment?

Check with your local law enforcement agency.

3. If a law enforcement agency requires notification of abandoned vehicles, is there a particular form that the notification must take?

Law enforcement agencies may dictate what form they want notifications of abandoned vehicles to take in their own jurisdictions. If you are not sure what form the law enforcement agency in your area requires, you should contact it directly for more information.

If a law enforcement agency requires notification of abandoned vehicles, can I send one list of all abandoned vehicles at my VSF or am I required to send a separate notification for each vehicle?

If the law enforcement agency allows you send a list of all abandoned vehicles on your VSF property, then you may.  However, law enforcement agencies have discretion on whether to accept such lists.  You should always contact your local law enforcement agency for specific requirements in your jurisdiction.

Timeline for sending second notification letter

4. What are the new requirements for sending the second notification letter to the vehicle owner and lienholder?

The second notification letter(s) must be sent between the 15th day and the 20th day after the date the first notice was mailed or published.  For example, if the first notification letter was mailed to the owner and lienholder on October 1, then the first date you would count towards the 15-day requirement would be October 2. You would have from October 16 until October 21 to send the second notification letter.

5. What are the consequences if I send the second notification letter to the vehicle owner and lienholder after the 20th day?

You may not charge for storage of the vehicle starting on the 21st day after the date the first notice was mailed or published., You may not begin charging again until 24 hours after you send the second notification letter.  For example, if you mailed the first notification letter to the vehicle’s owner and lienholder on October 1, but you did not mail the second notification letter until October 23, you may not charge for storage of the vehicle for October 22, October 23, and October 24.  The first day that you may start charging storage again would be October 25.

6. What happens to the timeline of sending the second notification letter to the vehicle’s owner and lienholder if I sent the first notification letter late?

The deadline for sending the second notification is determined by the date the first notification is actually mailed or published.  If the first notification letter was not sent to the vehicle’s owner and lienholder within the required time period, the deadline for the second notification letter will shift to accommodate this situation.  For instance, if the last day you may send the first notification letter for it to be considered timely sent is October 1, but you fail to send it until October 5, then the first day that the second notification letter may be sent to the vehicle’s owner and lienholder would be October 21.

Licensing Dual Tow Operators

1. My Dual Tow Operator License expires after 9/1/17, is it still valid?

Yes, your current Dual Tow Operator’s license will remain valid until it expires.

2. Can I renew my Dual Tow Operator license?

No. After September 1, 2017, you will choose which license, Tow Operator or VSF Employee, you want to keep at the time of your renewal. You do not need a VSF employee license to work at a vehicle storage facility if you hold a valid tow operator license.

3. How much will it cost to renew my license?

The fee is $100 if you renew on or before your expiration date.

4. Who needs to apply for a VSF employee license?

Anyone that works at a vehicle storage facility and who is not a licensed tow operator with TDLR.

University Relocate

1. Can universities request a tow of vehicles before or during on-campus activities?

Yes. As of September 1, 2017, state law provides that universities  may tow vehicles  from a university parking facility to another location on the university’s campus in preparation for special events. “Special events” are university sanctioned, on-campus activities, including parking lot maintenance.

2. Who is considered a “university”?

A “university” is a public senior college or institution or a private or independent institution of higher learning.

3. Is the University required to give notice before relocating vehicles due to a special event?

Yes.  Signs that a special event is occurring must be posted at least 72 hours before the event and must remain posted for 48 hours after the conclusion of the event.  The signs are required to be:

  • Made of weather-resistant material;
  • At least 18 inches wide and 24 inches tall;
  • Mounted on a pole, post, or wall, or a free-standing board;
  • Installed so that the bottom edge of the sign is no lower than two feet and no higher than six feet above the ground.

4. What information is required to be on a special event sign?

The signs must describe the nature of the special event; the date(s) and hours of towing enforcement; and list a phone number, including an area code, that is answered 24 hours a day.

5. Where must special event signs be posted?

The signs must be posted on the left or right side of all vehicle entrances, including an entry from an alley or.  posted every 25 feet if there is no defined entrance and the width of the entrance exceeds 35 feet.

6. If my vehicle is towed because of a special event, how do I get it back?

You must call the number on the sign and request release.  The signs are required to remain posted for 48 hours after the conclusion of the event

7. Is the university required to send me notice once my vehicle is towed?

No.  However, the university is required to notify you of your right to a tow hearing.

8. Are there any requirements on the university when releasing my vehicle?

Yes.  The university must make personnel available to release your vehicle within 2 hours after you request it and make personnel available to accept any payment required for the release.. 

9. How much can the university charge for relocation of vehicles?

The university can charge up to 75% of the private property tow fee set under Occ. Code §2308.0575.  The maximum they can charge would be $191.25. 

10. What happens if I don’t pick up my vehicle after it was relocated?

If you do not pick your vehicle within 48 hours after it is relocated, the university may tow the vehicle to another location on its campus without further expense to you.