I am sort of thinking of getting a vintage tow truck someday, partially as a restoration project, but I was also wondering if it could be legal for me to save money and tow my own vehicles if they break down. I would of course make sure all the towing equipment is up to snuff and not damaged.

The truck would probably be something like this:

enter image description here

Now, I understand there are somethings I would have to avoid:

  1. I would not be able to tow other people's vehicles, as while the truck itself would be fully insured, I would not have commercial liability insurance nor a CDL (might get non-commercial A or B-Class license)
  2. Towing someone else's car for compensation is forbidden, as I am not a business (and very possibly for other reasons too).

Other then that, could I legally tow my own personal property down public roadways? Would I need to use the orange flashing lights while towing?

For location, I live in the US state of Wisconsin.

  • a small side question: Would you update the towing capacities to get up to code or leave them in original condition?
    – Trish
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 8:42
  • What research have you already done? You've listed some rules that you think apply to you, but why? Have you looked for the relevant laws and regulations or done any other research for yourself before coming here? Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 8:57
  • @PaulJohnson, I've been looking around, but have not found much. I know being compensated for towing would be illegal, because I'd be engaging in commerce, while I would not be a commercial driver. Both parties insurance companies would likely also throw a fit, due to lack of commercial towing insurance.
    – Jazzyamx
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 10:46
  • @Trish, I'd probably rebuild the entire wrecker bed to better-then-new condition--rebuilt or new hydraulics, new cables, new straps, new or rebuilt winches, everything refurbished or replaced. Equipment known to no longer be safe would be replaced with modern updates.
    – Jazzyamx
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 10:49
  • Unless someone can point you at the relevant regulations I think you should ask a lawyer. This is verging on "legal advice" (i.e. what you should do in your particular situation) rather than just stating the law. Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 13:02

1 Answer 1


This site has links to various laws relevant to operating a towing company in Wisconsin. The use and ownership of a tow truck is not specially regulated: here are the license laws. 343.04 is the main concern, the vehicle classification being determined by vehicle weight and vehicles being towed. If you do tow some vehicle, you have to comply with the rules and regulations regarding brakes, lights etc. This page and this give you some indication of what those requirements are, the purpose of which is to guarantee that the towed vehicle doesn't suddenly become a projectile hurtling down the highway. When you apply the brakes, there have to be visible lights that the guy behind you can see.

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