• $150 to tow a vehicle, regardless of whether the tow is via a flatbed, hook and chain, wheel-lift, sling or belt lift, boom tow, or other method.
• $30 per 24 hours that the vehicle is stored in an outdoor storage facility.
• $50 per 24 hours that the vehicle is stored in an indoor storage facility.
• Any other necessary and commercially reasonable charges generally imposed upon the owners of towed vehicles by the towing service, including charges related to special or unusual towing services, not to exceed $150.
In addition, Wis. Stat. s. 349.13(3m)(dm), requires the towing service to collect an additional service fee not exceeding $35 if collection of the fee has been requested by the municipality in which a removed vehicle was illegally parked. Those fees are then passed along to the municipality.
For purposes of determining the length of time storage charges for a vehicle accrue, the proposed rule uses the date and time that the towing service provides notice of the towing to law enforcement as the beginning of the storage period. This provides the towing service and towed person with a reliable third party who can establish the time at which the tow occurred. Although that time would include the time of the actual tow to the storage facility in the calculation of the storage period, in the context of per-day storage charges, the short amount of time needed for the actual tow does not significantly affect the time calculation. The benefit of having a reliable beginning time outweighs the minor discrepancy in time used for the actual tow.
Subdivision. 349.13(3m)(dr)2., Stats., provides that a towing service may not collect any charges for the removal or storage of an illegally parked vehicle towed pursuant to s. 349.13(3m), Stats., unless the towing service complied with s. 349.13(3m)(d) 2., Stats., and made the required report to law enforcement before removing the vehicle.
Under this proposed rulemaking, the location of the improperly parked vehicle to be towed determines which agency should be notified. The county sheriff is the default agency to which a tow should be reported under Wis. Stat. s. 349.19(3m)(dr)1., unless the vehicle is parked within the boundaries of a municipality that has a police department. Vehicle tows made from locations within municipal boundaries are reported to the municipal police department, if one exists, and to the sheriff if there is no municipal police department. If the relevant law enforcement agency designates a mechanism for making tow reports to it, the towing service is required to use that mechanism for making reports. If the law enforcement agency does not designate a mechanism for reporting to it, the report may be made to any non-emergency recorded telephone line of that law enforcement agency.
The report to law enforcement must include the following information:
• The name and telephone number of the towing service.
• The make, model and color of the vehicle being removed.
• The license plate number or vehicle identification number for the vehicle, if visible.
• The location from which the vehicle will be removed.
• The address and phone number of the storage location to which the vehicle will be towed.
• The name of the operator of the storage facility if the storage location is not operated by the towing service.
Summary of, and Comparison with, Existing or Proposed Federal Statutes and Regulations:
There is no existing or proposed federal regulation that governs the towing of vehicles from private property.
Comparison with Rules in Adjacent States:
In Illinois, the owner or lessor of privately owned real property, or any person authorized by the owner, may have any motor vehicle that is abandoned or left unattended upon property without permission to be removed by a towing service, without liability for the costs of removal, transportation, or storage or for damage caused by the removal, transportation, or storage. The towing or removal of any vehicle from private property without the consent of the registered owner or other legally authorized person in control of the vehicle is subject to compliance with the following conditions and restrictions:
• Any towed or removed vehicle must be stored at the site of the towing service’s place of business. This site must be open during business hours, and for the purpose of redeeming vehicles, during the time that the person or firm towing that vehicle is open for towing purposes.
• The towing service must, within 30 minutes of completion of any towing or removal, notify the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction of such towing or removal, of the towed vehicle’s make, model, color and license plate number, and must obtain and record the name of the person at the law enforcement agency to whom the information was reported.
• If the registered owner or legally authorized person entitled to possession of the vehicle arrives at the towing scene prior to actual removal or towing of the vehicle, the vehicle must be disconnected from the tow truck and that person must be allowed to remove the vehicle without interference, The person is required to first pay a “reasonable service fee” of not more than one-half the posted rate of the towing service, and must be given a receipt.
• The rebate of payment or payment of money or any other valuable consideration from the towing service or its owners, manager, or employees to the owners or operators of the premises from which the vehicles are towed or removed, for the privilege of removing or towing those vehicles, is prohibited. Any person who violates this requirement is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
• With limited exceptions, any property owner or lessor, prior to towing or removing any vehicle from the private property without the consent of the owner or other legally authorized person in control of that vehicle, must post a notice meeting the following requirements:
• Generally, the notice must be prominently placed at each driveway access or curb cut allowing vehicular access to the property within five feet from the public right-of-way line. If there are no curbs or access barriers, the sign must be posted not less than one sign each 100 feet of lot frontage. Alternatively, in a municipality with a population of less than 250,000, the notice for a parking lot contained within property used solely for a 2-family, 3-family, or 4-family residence may be prominently placed at the perimeter of the parking lot, in a position where the notice is visible to the occupants of the vehicles entering the lot.
• The notice must indicate clearly, in not less than two inch high light-reflective letters on a contrasting background, that unauthorized vehicles will be towed away at the owner’s expense.
• The notice must also provide the name and current telephone number of the towing service towing or removing the vehicle.
• The sign structure containing the required notices must be permanently installed with the bottom of the sign not less than four feet above ground level, and must be continuously maintained on the property for not less than 24 hours prior to the towing or removing of any vehicle.
• The posted notice requirement does not apply to property appurtenant to and obviously a part of a single family residence. Nor does it apply where notice is personally given to the owner or other legally authorized person in control of the vehicle that the area in which the vehicle is parked is reserved or otherwise unavailable to unauthorized vehicles and the vehicle is subject to being removed at the owner or operator’s expense,
• Any towing service that tows or removes vehicles and proposes to require the owner, operator, or person in control of the vehicle to pay the costs of towing and storage prior to redemption of the vehicle must file and keep on record with the local law enforcement agency a complete copy of the current rates to be charged for its services. They must also post an identical rate schedule at the storage site and notice of any written contracts with property owners, lessor, or persons in control of property which authorize them to remove vehicles as provided in this section. Rate schedules are capped, however, at rates set by the Illinois Commerce Commission.
• No person may engage in the removal of vehicles from private property in Illinois without filing a notice of intent in each community where he intends to do remove vehicles from private lands. The notice must be filed at least seven days before the person begins towing vehicles from private properties.
• Vehicles may only be removed from private property upon express written instructions of the owners or persons in charge of the private property upon which the vehicle is allegedly trespassing.
• Towing services may open a vehicle to be towed for the purpose of effectuating the tow. The towing service must exercise reasonable care in entering the vehicle and conducting the tow. The towing service is liable for any damage caused to the vehicle if reasonable care is not used when gaining entry to the vehicle.
• A vehicle towed must be released to its owners or custodian within one-half hour after requested, if requested during business hours. Any vehicle owner, custodian or agent has the right to inspect the vehicle before accepting its return. Towing services are prohibited from demanding a release or waiver of any kind which would release the towing service from liability for damages incurred during the towing and storage. A detailed, signed receipt showing the legal name of the towing service must be given to the person paying towing or storage charges at the time of payment, whether requested or not. The towing service must accept payment by any major credit card or cash.
• A person or towing service who fails to comply with these conditions and restrictions is guilty of a Class C misdemeanor and may be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500.
In Iowa, the definition of “abandoned vehicle” includes a vehicle that has been unlawfully parked on private property or has been placed on private property without the consent of the owner or person in control of the property for more than 24 hours. A police authority, upon the authority’s own initiative or upon the request of any other authority having the duties of control of highways or traffic, may take an abandoned vehicle on private property into custody. The police authority may employ its own personnel, equipment, and facilities or hire a private entity, equipment, and facilities for the purpose of removing, preserving, storing, or disposing of abandoned vehicles. A property owner or other person in control of private property may employ a private entity who is a garagekeeper to dispose of an abandoned vehicle, and the private entity may take into custody the abandoned vehicle without a police authority’s initiative. If a police authority employs a private entity to dispose of abandoned vehicles, the police authority must provide the private entity with the names and addresses of the registered owners, all lienholders of record, and any other known claimant to the vehicle or the personal property found in the vehicle.
A police authority or private entity that takes an abandoned vehicle into custody must notify, within 20 days by certified mail, the last-known registered owner of the vehicle, all lienholders of record, and any other known claimant to the vehicle or to personal property found in the vehicle. The notice must be addressed to the parties’ last known addresses of record and indicate that the abandoned vehicle has been taken into custody. The notice must state the year, make, model, and vehicle identification number of the vehicle, describe any personal property found in the vehicle, set forth the location of the facility where the vehicle is being held, and inform the persons receiving the notice of their right to reclaim the vehicle and personal property within ten days after the effective date of the notice upon payment of all towing, preservation, and storage charges resulting from placing the vehicle in custody and upon payment of providing this notice. The notice also must state that the failure of the owner, lienholders, or claimants to exercise their right to reclaim the vehicle or personal property within the time provided shall be deemed a waiver by the owner, lienholders, and claimants of all right, title, claim, and interest in the vehicle or personal property and that failure to reclaim the vehicle or personal property is deemed consent to the sale of the vehicle at a public auction or disposal of the vehicle to a demolisher and to disposal of the personal property by sale or destruction. Notice is deemed given when mailed.
If the abandoned vehicle was taken into custody by a private entity without a police authority’s initiative, the notice shall state that the private entity may claim a garagekeeper’s lien and may proceed to sell or dispose of the vehicle. If the abandoned vehicle was taken into custody by a police authority or by a private entity hired by a police authority, the notice shall state that any person claiming rightful possession of the vehicle or personal property who disputes the planned disposition of the vehicle or property by the police authority or private entity or of the assessment of fees and charges may ask for an evidentiary hearing before the police authority to contest those matters. If the persons receiving notice do not ask for a hearing or exercise their right to reclaim the vehicle or personal property within the ten-day reclaiming period, the owner, lienholders, or claimants shall no longer have any right, title, claim, or interest in or to the vehicle or the personal property. A court in any case in law or equity shall not recognize any right, title, claim, or interest of the owner, lienholders, or claimants after the expiration of the ten-day reclaiming period.
If it is impossible to determine with reasonable certainty the identity and addresses of the last registered owner and all lienholders, notice by one publication in one newspaper of general circulation in the area where the vehicle was abandoned shall be sufficient to meet all requirements of notice. The published notice may contain multiple listings of abandoned vehicles and personal property but shall be published within the same time requirements and contain the same information as prescribed for mailed notice.
If an abandoned vehicle has not been reclaimed as provided for, the police authority or private entity makes a determination as to whether the vehicle should be sold for use upon the highways. If the vehicle is to be sold for use on the highways, it must be sold at public auction. If the vehicle is not sold for use upon the highways, it is sold for junk, or demolished and sold as scrap without public auction after the required notice period lapses. The vehicle purchaser at public auction takes title free and clear of all liens and claims of ownership, receives a sales receipt from the police authority or private entity. If the vehicle is sold for use on highways, the purchaser is entitled to register the vehicle and receive a certificate of title. If the vehicle is sold or disposed of to a demolisher for junk or scrap, the demolisher must apply to the county treasurer for a junking certificate within 30 days of purchase and must surrender the sales receipt in lieu of the certificate of title.
If the police authority did not hire a private entity, the police authority reimburses itself for the expenses of the auction from the proceeds of the sale, including the expenses related to towing, preserving, and storing that resulted from placing the abandoned vehicle in custody, expenses incurred for providing notice and publication, costs of inspection, and any other costs incurred other than bookkeeping and other administrative costs. Any remainder from the proceeds of a sale is held for the owner of the vehicle or entitled lienholder for 90 days, and is then deposited in the road use tax fund. Whenever the proceeds from a sale of the abandoned vehicles are insufficient to cover a police agency’s expenses and costs, the balance is paid from the road use tax fund and become an obligation of the last vehicle owner or owners, jointly and severally.
If a private entity has been hired by a police authority, the police authority can file a claim with the State of Iowa Department of Transportation for reimbursement of towing fees which are paid from the road use tax fund. Reimbursement is limited to $50 per vehicle for towing services, actual postage or publication costs for notice services, $5 per day per vehicle, not to exceed 45 days, for storage services, 10% of the vehicle’s sale price or $10, whichever is less, for auction fees.
Michigan: In Michigan, like in Iowa, the definition of “abandoned vehicle” includes a vehicle that has remained on private property without the consent of the owner. If a vehicle has remained on private property without the consent of the property owner, the owner of the private property may have the vehicle taken into custody as an abandoned vehicle by contacting a local towing agency. A local towing agency is considered a towing agency whose storage lot is located within 15 miles from the border of the local unit of government having jurisdiction over the abandoned vehicle. Before removing the vehicle from private property, the towing agency must provide reasonable notice by telephone, or otherwise, to a police agency having jurisdiction over the vehicle that the vehicle is being removed. The police agency must determine whether the vehicle has been reported stolen and must enter the vehicle into the law enforcement information network as an abandoned vehicle.
Within 24 hours after taking the abandoned vehicle into custody, the police agency must notify the secretary of state through the Michigan law enforcement information network that the vehicle has been taken into custody as abandoned. Each notification contains the following information:
• The year, make, and vehicle identification number of the vehicle if available.
• The address or approximate location from which the vehicle was taken into custody.
• The date on which the vehicle was taken into custody.
• The name and address of the police agency that had the vehicle taken into custody.
• The name and business address of the custodian of the vehicle.
• The name of the court that has jurisdiction over the case.
Within seven days after being notified, the secretary of state must do both of the following:
• Enter this information described on a website maintained by the department for public use in locating vehicles that are removed under this section as abandoned.
• Send to the owner and secured party, as shown by the records of the secretary of state, by first-class mail or personal service, notice that the vehicle is considered abandoned. The Michigan Secretary of State’s form must contain the following information:
• The year, make, and vehicle identification number of the vehicle if available.