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Trespass 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 trespass, police and consumer requested towing. 

A key provision of the registration process requires tow companies to provide a certificate of insurance. A company cannot be registered without this proof. In addition to the registration requirements, trespass towing is regulated by OCP under Chapter 30C. 

Police requested tow services are regulated by Montgomery County Police Department and, other than the registration requirement, consumer requested tow services are unregulated. For your reference, a link to the county code and other local laws that governs towing, is available at County Code. Below, we have highlighted some key provisions of the trespass towing law.

Property owner must have a written contract with the tow company before the towing begins. Commercial Parking Lot owners must register with the county in order to tow from their property. The property owner and the tow company 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 capped at $25 for any size vehicle.

Each tow truck driver must have a valid driver's license. 

Signs :  This is where many violations will occur.  The property owner must post signs at least 24 hours before towing commences.  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 sized 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 proceduresThe 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 or the tow company must retain documentation of who authorized each tow. Authorization must be on tow authorization form. The property owner and/or the tow company must also have photographic evidence of the violation that precipitated the towing of the vehicle.  OCP, police and owner may inspect and copy authorization forms and photographs.

Notice to policeThe 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 ownersA towing service may not under any circumstances tow a vehicle with a valid handicap registration plate or disabled 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
Complaints arise at the redemption and storage area. 
Each trespass towing service 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.  Each towing service must also display a sign furnished by us.  The receipt should reflect the amount paid to redeem the vehicle and have a copy of the photograph of the violation.  Note:  A tow service 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, 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:   Many disputes occur because of payments.  Tow companies, must accept cash, traveler's checks (with ID) and credit cards (e.g., Visa, 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. 

Other:   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, Abandoned Vehicle Recovery Section. 


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