Occasionally our vehicles run out of gas, tires blow out, or another complication occurs which causes a temporary break down. You come back after a few hours to fix your vehicle only to realize it has been towed. Dealing with a towed car can be extremely frustrating, especially when it was unrightfully done. Indiana has specific towing laws that companies must follow before removing your vehicle that is disabled from an auto collision or a mechanical problem. There are 3 relevant laws and rules to be aware of in Indiana.
Indiana law provides that an officer notified of an abandoned vehicle must place a notice tag on the vehicle. Among other things, the notice must contain information stating the vehicle will be removed after 24 hours, if the vehicle is located within the right of way of an interstate highway or after 72 hours, for any other vehicle. See IC 9-22-1-11.
Residential Parking Lots
Pursuant to Section 995 of the Marion County Non-Consensual Towing Ordinance, it is illegal for a tow company to remove a vehicle form a parking lot unless the parking lot owner or owner’s agent is present at the time of the tow and signs an authorization for the tow. However, a tow company can act as an agent if the parking lot is for multifamily rental dwelling which provides permit parking 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for tenets. The parking permits must be provided at lease signing and easy identifiable from outside of the vehicle. Additionally, the towing company is required to make and keep video or photographic documentation of the tow.
Section 995 also states it is unlawful for a tow truck to tow a vehicle unless the parking lot where the vehicle is parked has signs posted in plain view at each entrance and exit, that have been permanently installed for a minimum of 24 hours prior to any vehicle being removed. However, a vehicle may be lawfully towed if a vehicle is parked in such a manner that it restricts normal operations of a business during its business hours.
Getting your Vehicle Back
Section 995 sets limits on the time and costs associated with retrieving your towed vehicle. Specifically, a towed vehicle must be available within 60 minutes of being towed. The vehicle can only be towed within a 15-mile radius of where the vehicle was parked. Tow companies may not charge more than $150.00 plus a $30.00 per day storage fee after the vehicle has been towed for 24 hours.
If you believe your vehicle was unlawfully towed, you may first dispute it with the towing company. If that does not work, you can call the Mayor’s action center and report the violation. Another option is to file a complaint with the court. Be sure to keep all documentation and understand your rights.