The Legality of Having a Car Towed
Having a vehicle abandoned in a business parking lot can be a serious hassle. Not only is it an eyesore, but it is occupying valuable space that could be utilized by paying customers. There are numerous things that need to be taken into account before having a vehicle towed from a parking lot in order to ensure that you are doing so lawfully. Most cities and municipalities have their own laws regarding the towing of vehicles, which differ from city to city. Although most cities are fairly consistent with their signage regulations, there can be some subtle differences that call for the same situations to be handled differently in two cities.
Understanding Signage Requirements
Before attempting to have a car towed it is important that you have an understanding of the signage requirements for your local community. There are several laws that are consistently seen in cities around the country. Some of the more common signage laws include:
- Determine Necessity: While most places of business will require appropriate signage to tow cars from their property, it is not always necessary. For instance, owners of rental properties with four or less units are not always required to post notices in order to remove vehicles that block their driveway or parking area.
- Posted at Entrance: Most cities require that businesses place their parking notices at all publicly-accessible vehicle entrances to a property. The sign should be visible, and easily seen upon entrance, without obstructions.
- Sign Sizes: Not all municipalities have requirements regarding the size of parking signs, but some do. In example, The State of New Jersey recently passed a law that requires all parking signs posted at entrances to be 36 inch x 36 inch. Many cities have requirements that the sign be no smaller than 18 inch x 24 inch. Make sure signs are placed at the motorists eye-level so they are easily noticed.
- Sign Maintenance: Most cities and municipalities have requirements that parking-related signs on private property be maintained in order to be visible. This means that signs can not have faded lettering, discoloration, and must be cleaned or replaced when vandalized. Most signs are made from weather-resistant materials, which should reduce maintenance costs in the long term.
- Visibility: There are often visibility requirements for parking signs as well. Signs must be made from a reflective material that is visible at night, and have lettering large enough to read while driving. Most towns specify a minimum letter height for all lettering on no-parking signs
- Statements: There are several features that parking signs must include to be considered legal in most municipalities. Your parking signs should include who the parking area is for. For instance, a sign that reads “Customer Parking Only” would meet this requirement. Additionally, towing signs need to include the name of the towing company, the telephone number of the company, and the address of the location in which the vehicle can be reclaimed from.
Public vs Private
While having a car on private property relocated is the common scenario, occasionally a business owner may need to relocate a vehicle parked on a public roadway if it is blocking the entrance to their business. In this situation, the business must work in conjunction with the police department to have the car towed and remove the obstruction.
For businesses that are located in a heavily populated urban area – there are usually certain considerations that must be taken into account for large scale events. Many cities will have specific regulations for events including ensuring that parking signs have been posted in advance of the event (usually 24-48 hours), and also how quickly event-specific signage must be removed from the location. Every city has their own parking, towing and signage laws that are tailored specifically for large-scale events.
Almost all businesses have to deal with abandoned or illegally parked vehicles in their parking lots at some point. By looking ahead and making sure that the city’s regulations are explicitly followed, these situations can be dealt with more quickly. Although regulations differ from city to city, they are usually relatively similar in basic requirements.