I get at least one email every day from someone who was towed and can’t believe how much the wrecker or storage lot charged for the service.
First you should know there are 2 types of tows in Houston and Harris County. There is a nonconsent tow, where a wrecker driver may tow your vehicle from the scene of an accident. This is called nonconsent because the wrecker can make the tow without the driver’s consent in the interest of clearing the roadway.
If you park illegally (say in a handicapped space at your apartment complex or in a “No Parking zone”) and your car is towed, this is also called a nonconsent tow. In both cases, the tow truck driver did not have your consent to tow your vehicle.
A consent tow is when the owner agrees and signs a tow truck receipt. This is what you don’t want to do. Always allow the police to do a nonconsent tow.
Why? Nonconsent tows are regulated by the City of Houston, Harris County and the Texas Department of Licesning & Regulation. The rates that licensed wreckers and storage facilities can legally charge you are regulated. Storage lots and wreckers can not make up fees and charges.
Here are the charges allowable by law in our area:
$143.50 Nonconsent Tow Fee in Houston
$15.00 Per day charge at Licensed Vehicle Storage Facility in Houston
$50.00 Notification Fee from Storage Lot if they have to notify you after 24 hours that your car has been towed there.
$20.00 Impound fee.
If you believe your vehicle was illegally towed or if you were charged too much, you can file for a Tow Hearing.
You should also file a complaint with the HPD Auto Dealers Detail by calling (713) 308-1440 between 8am-4pm, Monday through Friday. Or call the helpline at (713) 308-2568.
In Harris County, call the Harris County Sheriff’s Dept. Towing & Storage Unit at (713) 672-8853.
No matter where you are in Texas, you can file a complaint with the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation.
And remember, what you want is a non-consent tow.
We’ve done our share of stories on the industry. You can check out a few at these links:
Drivers Complain Wreckers Too Aggressive July 22, 205
Law Allow Wreckers to Take Cars, Money July 12, 2006
Man who Illegally Towed Cars Headed to Prison October 17, 2007