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Office of Consumer Protection

Licensing & Registration

Motor Vehicle Repair, Maintenance & Towing

Who must be registered?   Montgomery County Code,   Ch. 31A. Motor Vehicle Repair and Towing  requires that merchants engaged in motor vehicle repair, maintenance   or  towing in Montgomery County be registered. A mobile mechanic or a mobile repair business must have a Certificate of Registration on their person at all times when they are engaged in repair and installation activities.

What is the process?  The registration process is managed by the Licensing & Registration Unit of the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP). The process includes completion of an Application for Certificate of Registration for Motor Vehicle Maintenance Repairs and Towing and payment of a fee. New certificates are issued for one (1) year, and are thereafter renewed every three (3) years. The registration fee schedule is based upon the applicant's number of mechanical employees and/or tow trucks. Click here for the  fee schedule .

To register, applicants are required to provide OCP with the following documents:

  • Completed Application and Fee
  • Repair Invoice  (for Motor Vehicle Repair and Maintenance only)
  • Certificate of Liability Insurance (for Towing applicants only)
  • Current ASE Certification (if an ASE discount is requested)

 

Is there a penalty for failing to register?  Anyone engaged in the business of motor vehicle repair, maintenance or towing without having first registered with the County is subject to a class A violation.  Each violation is subject to a $500.00 civil fine.

For additional information, please contact the Licensing & Registration Unit at 240.777.3718.

The Office of Consumer Protection registers motor vehicle repair, maintenance and towing companies.  You can obtain our applications here:

To obtain the files you MUST have Adobe Acrobat Reader or Internet Explorer Edge on your system.  If necessary you may download the free  Adobe Acrobat Reader here.  The OCP has provided a  Fee Schedule for your reference.

Mail the completed application and check or money order (cash is not accepted) payable to “Montgomery County, MD” to:

Office of Consumer Protection
Licensing & Registration Unit
100 Maryland Avenue, Suite 330
Rockville, MD 20850

Initial certificates are valid for one (1) year.  Certificates are renewable upon application for a period of three (3) years. 
Any person, firm or corporation that engages in the business or trade of repairing or maintaining motor vehicles or towing motor vehicles without first registering with the County is subject to a $500.00 Civil Citation (per violation) and an Order for Abatement.  Failure to comply with the Order is subject to contempt proceedings.

In addition to the registration requirement, Montgomery County law places certain obligations on motor vehicle repair and maintenance facilities.  Many of the fundamental requirements of the consumer laws governing the automobile repair industry foster communication and consumer trust.  Complying with these laws will increase the trust consumers have in you and avoid potential problems.

Once your Registration application has been approved, you should post an OCP approved sign at your place of business. The  sign  describes  county law regarding written estimates and should be posted in shops.  You may purchase a sign directly from the OCP for $25.00 (check payable to Montgomery County, Maryland).  Please call our Licensing & Registration Unit for purchase and pick-up.

For your reference, copies of the county and state automobile repair acts, which govern repairs in the county, are available at  County Code .  Although many shops are familiar with these laws, review is always helpful.  In addition, we have highlighted key provisions of these and other applicable laws below.

 

Towing:  In order to tow in Montgomery County, Chapter 31A of the County Code requires that you register with the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection. This registration process applies to all companies towing in Montgomery County--whether trespass, police or consumer-requested towing. 

A key provision of the registration process requires tow companies to provide a certificate of insurance naming the OCP as a Certificate Holder. A company cannot be registered without this proof.  Additionally, the companies must carry a minimum of $25,000 of insurance coverage for losses sustained by any consumer as a result of damage to a vehicle while it is in the custody and/or control of the tow company during towing, transport and storage.  

Each driver must have a valid driver's license.

In addition to the above registration requirements, companies that perform trespass towing must file a separate registration required under Chapter 30C and file a tresspass tow rate schedule with the OCP.

Police requested tow services are regulated by Montgomery County Police Department and, other than the above registration requirements, consumer requested tow services are unregulated.

Towing companies should be aware that there are other types of tows:  (police, consumer requested, and repossessions) that may also be  regulated by other county and state laws.  For information on Police tows, please visit Montgomery County Police Department,  Vehicle Recovery Section .

Property owner must have a written contract with the tow company before the towing begins.  The property owner must keep the contract on file.  The Office of Consumer Protection and the Police Department can inspect the contract to make sure it is in compliance with Code.
Vehicles cannot be blocked in order to collect a fee. Vehicles must be raised at least six inches off the ground to collect a drop fee, which is one half the current hook-up rate (see rate regulation).


INFORMATION ON COUNTY CODE §30-C FOR COMPANIES PERFORMING TRESSPASS TOWING

Tow Signs :  The property owner must post signs at least 24 hours before towing commences and must be maintained in legible and unobstructed condition.  The signs must be clearly readable from each parking area and each vehicle entrance at all times.   In a parking lot with more than 45 spaces, at least one sign must be posted for each 45 spaces. The following requirements must also be followed:

  • The signs must summarize all restrictions on the property enforced by towing of unauthorized vehicles including time and area restrictions. 
  • There must be a telephone number for each towing company hired to tow unauthorized vehicles and the location of where the vehicle will be towed. 
  • The signs must be 24 inches high by 30 inches wide and located so that they are readable by motorists in daylight and at night.
  • For residential property, signs are only required at the entrances to the property if a warning sticker is placed on the vehicle in a conspicuous place and 48 hours’ notice is given prior to the tow. 


Tow procedures The tow company must obtain specific written authorization for each and every vehicle that is towed  between 9 a.m. and 2 a.m.  Between the hours of 2 a.m. and 9 a.m., the tow company may tow without obtaining authorization. The property owner and the tow company must retain documentation of who authorized each tow. Authorization must be on tow authorization form. The property owner or the tow company must also have photographic evidence of the violation that precipitated the towing of the vehicle.  The OCP, police and owner may inspect and copy authorization forms and photographs obtained by the towing companies.

Notice to police The towing company must notify the police with the name of the tow service, a description of the vehicle--including the VIN, model, color, year, and the registration plate of the vehicle, the address where it was towed from, the time the vehicle was towed and the address where the vehicle will be stored. This notification must be done before the towed vehicle leaves the lot from which it was towed.  This is to prevent unnecessary stolen reports being written. A second notice to the police is required after the vehicle has been in the tow company’s possession for 72 hours.  

Handicapped vehicle owners A towing service may not under any circumstances tow a vehicle with a valid handicap registration plate or disabled person's parking permit, unless a police officer authorizes the tow or the vehicle is blocking is clearly marked fire lane or access to another vehicle, the property or a building. 

Redemption and storage
Each trespass towing company must display at the redemption area a copy of the current rates and a statement that these rates do not exceed the rates on file with the Office of Consumer Protection.  The receipt should reflect the amount paid to redeem the vehicle and include a copy of the photograph of the violation. 
Note:  A tow company must give a receipt even for a drop fee. 

The storage site must not be more than 15 miles from the origin of the tow.  The storage sites shall be in Montgomery County, unless the nearest storage site is within 1 mile of the county line.  The storage site must be brightly lit at all times. The storage site must remain open and have personnel on-site for redemption of vehicles 24 hours per day, 7 days a week

Payment :   Tow companies, must accept cash, traveler's checks (with ID), Visa, and MasterCard. Tow companies may accept another form of payment, but cannot demand cash only. Tow companies must accept a credit card regardless of where the vehicle is registered. Each towing company must also display a sign regarding payment options.  The OCP provides these  signs  for $20/each.

 

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