How can you be sure your vehicle won’t be towed when you park in an unfamiliar area? And do you have any recourse if you think you’ve been towed unfairly?
Here are 10 tips from the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, which often acts as the middleman between tow companies and Hillsborough County residents if there are questions about whether a vehicle was legitimately towed.
Five tips to help you avoid getting towed:
Don’t park in a business’ parking lot if you are not patronizing that business.
If you are parking in a staffed lot, get a receipt.
- If you live in an apartment complex, make sure to use your parking sticker and renew your tags. Most complexes give you three warnings on expired tags before they tow.
- At an apartment complex, make sure you are within the lines of the parking space – tow trucks often will tow a vehicle if it is not parked properly.
- If you park in a lot with an honor box, videotape or take a photo of yourself paying, so you have proof.
Five tips on what to do if your vehicle has been towed:
To find out where your vehicle is, look for a sign on the lot that lists the tow company, or call the law enforcement agency for your area. When you pick up your vehicle, make sure you bring proof of ownership with registration and driver’s license. (If your registration is in the vehicle, you can get it out of the vehicle when you arrive at the tow lot.)
Pick up your vehicle between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Otherwise, you will be required to pay a gate fee of $50.
Pick up your vehicle as soon as you can. In addition to the tow charge, after the first day you are charged $25 for each day your car is in the tow lot.
If you were towed from a parking lot, check to see if tow- away signs were posted at all entrances and exits. If that wasn’t the case, it is not a legitimate tow.
If the tow truck driver did not take photos of your violation, you may be able to get some or all of your money back. Tow truck drivers are required to have proof of the violation.
If you think you were wrongfully towed or charged incorrectly, the Public Transportation Commission can help. The PTC, which is funded by the companies it regulates, oversees forhire transportation in Hillsborough County to promote consumer protection and safe rides for the public.
If asked, PTC inspectors will investigate a tow situation and negotiate a refund or a decrease in charges if it was not a valid tow. Call the PTC’s complaint line at (813) 350-6878 or file an online complaint form.