Understanding Your Rights When Your Car is Towed in Florida

When it comes to having your car towed in the state of Florida, it is crucial to be aware of your rights as a vehicle owner. Understanding the regulations and laws surrounding towing in Florida can help ensure that you know what actions to take if your car is ever towed. This article will provide you with valuable insights into your rights as a car owner in such situations, helping you navigate the complexities of towing procedures and empowering you to make informed decisions regarding your vehicle’s recovery.

Understanding Your Rights When Your Car is Towed in Florida

Table of Contents

Understanding Florida Towing Laws

Understanding the Definition of a Towed Vehicle

In Florida, a “towed vehicle” is defined as a motor vehicle that is removed or relocated from private or public property at the direction of a law enforcement officer, property owner, or authorized person. This can occur for a variety of reasons, such as parking violations, abandoned vehicles, or vehicles involved in accidents.

Knowing When a Vehicle Can be Towed in Florida

Under Florida law, a vehicle can be towed if it is parked in a manner that obstructs the flow of traffic, parked in a designated no-parking zone, or parked on private property without permission. Additionally, a vehicle may be towed if it is displaying expired registration or if the owner has outstanding traffic violations.

Learning the Requirements for Posting Towing Notices

Before a vehicle can be towed in Florida, certain requirements must be met regarding the posting of towing notices. These notices must be prominently displayed in visible locations, such as entrances and exits of parking lots, and must contain specific information, including the contact information of the towing company and the reason for the potential towing.

Understanding the Towing Process

Once a vehicle has been towed, it is important to understand the towing process in Florida. Generally, the towing company is required to take the vehicle to a specified storage facility. The vehicle owner will then need to contact the towing company to arrange for its release and retrieval.

Knowing the Towing Fees and Charges

Towing fees and charges in Florida are regulated by state law. The maximum allowable fees include charges for towing, storage, and administrative costs. It is important for vehicle owners to be aware of these fees to avoid any unexpected financial burdens when retrieving their towed vehicles.

Procedures to Retrieve a Towed Vehicle

Contacting the Towing Company

The first step in retrieving a towed vehicle is to contact the towing company. The contact information should be provided on the towing notice or can be obtained from the property owner or law enforcement agency. It is important to have the necessary information readily available, such as the vehicle’s make, model, and license plate number, to expedite the process.

Verifying the Location of the Towed Vehicle

Before visiting the storage facility, it is crucial to verify the exact location of the towed vehicle. The storage facility may be different from where the vehicle was initially towed, so it is important to confirm the correct address to avoid any confusion or delays.

Providing Proof of Ownership and Identification

When retrieving a towed vehicle, the owner will be required to provide proof of ownership and identification. This typically includes a valid driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. Without these documents, the towing company may refuse to release the vehicle.

Understanding the Acceptable Forms of Payment

Towing companies in Florida may have specific requirements regarding acceptable forms of payment for towing and storage fees. It is important to inquire about these requirements beforehand to ensure a smooth transaction. Common forms of payment include cash, credit or debit cards, and sometimes cashier’s checks or money orders.

Checking for Damage on the Towed Vehicle

Upon retrieving a towed vehicle, it is essential to thoroughly inspect the vehicle for any damage that may have occurred during the towing process. If any damage is found, it should be documented and reported to the towing company immediately. Taking photographs as evidence can also be helpful in resolving any disputes that may arise later.

Disputing an Improper Towing

Identifying Improper Towing Practices

If you believe your vehicle has been towed improperly, it is important to first identify any potential signs of improper towing practices. This can include towing without proper authorization, failure to adhere to towing regulations or requirements, or towing without valid justification.

Gathering Evidence to Support Your Claim

To dispute an improper towing, it is crucial to gather evidence to support your claim. This can include photographs of parking signs, witness statements, or any documentation that proves the towing was unjustified or violated towing laws and regulations.

Contacting Law Enforcement or Local Authorities

If you suspect an improper towing, it may be necessary to contact local law enforcement or authorities to report the incident. They can provide guidance and assistance in resolving the dispute and taking appropriate action against the towing company if necessary.

Filing a Complaint Against the Towing Company

In cases of improper towing, filing a formal complaint against the towing company may be necessary. This can be done through the appropriate regulatory agency or consumer protection organization. Providing detailed information and supporting evidence is crucial when filing a complaint.

Seeking Legal Assistance if Needed

If the dispute with the towing company remains unresolved, seeking legal assistance may be necessary. A lawyer experienced in towing laws can provide guidance on the course of action to take, including potentially filing a lawsuit to seek compensation for damages or losses.

Understanding Your Rights When Your Car is Towed in Florida

Understanding Towing and Storage Liens

Defining Towing and Storage Liens

A towing lien is a legal claim a towing company has over a vehicle that has been towed due to non-payment of towing and storage fees. A storage lien, on the other hand, refers to the legal claim the storage facility may have over the vehicle for unpaid storage fees.

Knowing When a Lien Can be Imposed

In Florida, a towing lien can be imposed after the vehicle has been stored for 35 days, while a storage lien can be imposed after 15 days. It is important for vehicle owners to be aware of these timelines to avoid any additional costs or potential loss of their vehicle.

Understanding Lienholder Rights and Responsibilities

As the owner of a towed vehicle, it is important to understand the rights and responsibilities of lienholders. This includes being notified of the pending lien, the amount owed, and the steps required to prevent the lien from being imposed. It is crucial to stay informed and address any outstanding fees to avoid any complications.

Resolving Disputes Over Towing and Storage Charges

If there are disputes over towing and storage charges, it is recommended to address these concerns as soon as possible. Contacting the towing company or storage facility to discuss the issue and provide supporting documentation can help resolve the dispute. If necessary, seeking legal assistance or mediation may be a viable option.

Recovering Possession of the Vehicle

To recover possession of a towed vehicle subject to a lien, it is necessary to pay all outstanding fees and charges. Once payment has been made, the towing company or storage facility is obligated to release the vehicle. It is important to have proof of payment and to thoroughly inspect the vehicle upon release.

Rights and Remedies for Unlawful Towing

Knowing Your Rights as the Vehicle Owner

As the owner of a towed vehicle, you have specific rights that protect you from unlawful towing practices. This includes the right to receive proper notification before the towing takes place, the right to dispute the towing if it was not lawful, and the right to recover possession of your vehicle upon payment of valid charges.

Understanding Potential Remedies for Unlawful Towing

If you believe your vehicle was unlawfully towed, there are several potential remedies available to you. This can include filing a complaint with the appropriate regulatory agency or pursuing legal action against the towing company to seek compensation for any damages or losses incurred.

Filing a Legal Action Against the Towing Company

In cases of unlawful towing, filing a legal action against the towing company may be necessary to seek justice and compensation for any damages or losses experienced. It is important to consult with a lawyer experienced in towing laws to understand the legal process and the potential outcomes.

Seeking Compensation for Damages or Losses

If you have suffered damages or losses as a result of an unlawful towing, you may be entitled to compensation. This can include reimbursement for towing and storage fees, repair costs for any damage incurred during the towing process, and any other losses directly caused by the unlawful towing.

Protecting Yourself from Future Unlawful Towing Incidents

To protect yourself from future unlawful towing incidents, it is important to stay informed and educated about your rights and the towing laws in Florida. Familiarize yourself with parking regulations, signage requirements, and the proper procedures for towing. Being proactive can help prevent unnecessary frustration and financial burdens.

Towing and Your Insurance Coverage

Understanding Your Insurance Policy

Before a towing incident occurs, it is important to review your insurance policy to understand what coverage you have for towing expenses. Some insurance policies include coverage for towing and may reimburse you for the costs associated with retrieving your vehicle.

Determining Coverage for Towing Expenses

If your insurance policy does include coverage for towing expenses, it is important to determine the extent of that coverage. Review the policy for any limitations or restrictions, such as coverage limits or specific circumstances under which towing expenses may not be reimbursed.

Knowing the Reimbursement Process

In the event of a towing incident, it is important to follow the reimbursement process outlined by your insurance provider. This may involve submitting receipts or documentation of the towing expenses, completing any necessary forms, and adhering to any specified timelines or requirements.

Reporting the Towing Incident to Your Insurance Provider

To initiate the reimbursement process, it is necessary to report the towing incident to your insurance provider. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible after retrieving your vehicle to notify them of the incident and to inquire about the necessary steps to file a claim for reimbursement.

Evaluating the Impact on Your Insurance Premiums

It is important to be aware that filing an insurance claim for towing expenses may impact your insurance premiums. Although each insurance company may have different policies regarding this, it is advisable to inquire about the potential impact on your premiums before filing a claim.

Tips to Prevent Towing Incidents

Always Park in Designated Areas

To avoid the risk of having your vehicle towed, it is crucial to always park in designated areas. This includes parking spaces, lots, or areas specifically designated for vehicle parking. Adhering to parking regulations will significantly reduce the likelihood of your vehicle being towed.

Check for Proper Signage and Parking Regulations

Before parking your vehicle, carefully check for proper signage and familiarize yourself with the parking regulations in the area. Ensure that you are parking within the designated boundaries and in compliance with any time restrictions or permit requirements.

Ensure Valid Vehicle Registration and License Plates

Having valid vehicle registration and license plates is essential to avoid unnecessary towing. Ensure that your vehicle’s registration is up to date and displayed properly on the license plates. Expired registration or missing or improperly displayed license plates can be grounds for towing.

Avoid Parking in Private Lots without Permission

Parking in private lots without permission can result in your vehicle being towed. It is important to respect private property and obtain permission from the property owner or authorized personnel before parking in their lot. Ignoring this rule can lead to unwanted towing expenses.

Stay Up to Date with Local Towing Laws and Regulations

To better protect yourself from towing incidents, it is important to stay informed about local towing laws and regulations. Familiarize yourself with any specific rules or requirements in the area where you frequently park your vehicle. This knowledge will help you navigate parking situations more effectively.

Finding Help and Resources

Contacting the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) is a valuable resource for information and assistance related to towing laws. They can provide guidance on towing regulations, consumer rights, and address any concerns or complaints regarding towing companies.

Seeking Assistance from Consumer Protection Agencies

Consumer protection agencies, such as the Florida Office of the Attorney General, can offer guidance and assistance in resolving disputes with towing companies. They can provide valuable resources, mediation services, and help protect consumers’ rights in towing-related matters.

Consulting with Legal Aid Organizations

If you are facing legal challenges or require legal advice regarding towing incidents, consulting with legal aid organizations can be beneficial. These organizations offer free or low-cost legal services to individuals who may not otherwise be able to afford legal representation.

Understanding the Role of Local Towing Ombudsman

Some jurisdictions may have the position of a towing ombudsman who can assist in resolving disputes between vehicle owners and towing companies. The towing ombudsman can provide information, mediate disputes, and help ensure fair and equitable resolutions.

Utilizing Online Resources and Forums for Guidance

There are numerous online resources and forums dedicated to discussing towing laws and providing guidance on dealing with towing incidents. These platforms can provide valuable insights, experiences, and advice from other vehicle owners who have faced similar situations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if my car is towed in Florida?

If your car is towed in Florida, the first step is to contact the towing company to confirm the location of your vehicle. You will need to provide the necessary documentation to prove ownership and pay the required fees to retrieve your car.

How much does it cost to retrieve a towed vehicle in Florida?

The costs to retrieve a towed vehicle in Florida can vary depending on the specific circumstances, such as the distance towed, the duration of storage, and any additional fees. It is advisable to contact the towing company directly to inquire about the costs associated with retrieving your vehicle.

Can a towing company refuse to release my vehicle?

A towing company may refuse to release your vehicle if you do not provide the required documentation, fail to pay the towing and storage fees, or if there are legal reasons prohibiting the release of the vehicle. It is important to comply with the necessary requirements to ensure a smooth release process.

What is the maximum allowable towing and storage fees in Florida?

In Florida, the maximum allowable towing fees and storage charges are regulated by state law. It is recommended to familiarize yourself with these regulations to avoid being overcharged when retrieving your towed vehicle.

Can I be charged additional fees if I retrieve my vehicle after hours?

Some towing companies may impose additional fees for after-hours vehicle retrieval. It is advisable to inquire about any potential after-hours fees when contacting the towing company, to avoid any surprises or unexpected expenses.


Understanding the towing laws in Florida is essential for all vehicle owners to protect their rights and navigate any towing incidents that may arise. By familiarizing yourself with the requirements for towing, retrieval procedures, and dispute processes, you can ensure a smoother and more favorable experience if your vehicle is ever towed. Following the tips to prevent towing incidents and utilizing available resources will further enhance your ability to navigate this situation effectively. Remember to stay informed, stay diligent, and exercise your rights when necessary.