2

What is the relevant section of Florida law with regards to Towing a vehicle? Assume an unknown vehicle is blocking access for another vehicle to leave the garage or entering the garage.

Any guidance / lessons learned / best practices that serve to minimize conflict to resolve a blocking vehicle and prevent the problem are appreciated.

Clarification: assume a Condo parking lot and a townhouse garage is blocked. Assume the HOA has no rules regarding the matter.

4
  • 3
    Is the blocking vehicle parked on private property or a public right-of-way? Is the garage part of a business or a private residence? Florida law distinguishes between these and also allows a local municipality to create further regulations so a finer granularity to jurisdiction may matter.
    – Dave D
    Nov 26 '20 at 14:50
  • @DaveD Thank you for the input: question is updated.
    – gatorback
    Nov 26 '20 at 14:56
  • is a fire exit or entry blocked?
    – Trish
    Nov 26 '20 at 17:12
  • 2
    Title XL, Section 715.07 is the relevant section. It was the first hit on Google for "Florida towing law". I can't address the rest of your questions, though. Nov 26 '20 at 20:31
3

Yes, in Florida

Florida Statutes Title XL Section 715.07 provides:

(2) The owner or lessee of real property, or any person authorized by the owner or lessee, which person may be the designated representative of the condominium association if the real property is a condominium, may cause any vehicle or vessel parked on such property without her or his permission to be removed by a person regularly engaged in the business of towing vehicles or vessels, without liability for the costs of removal, transportation, or storage or damages caused by such removal, transportation, or storage, under any of the following circumstances: (a) The towing or removal of any vehicle or vessel from private property without the consent of the registered owner or other legally authorized person in control of that vehicle or vessel is subject to substantial compliance with the following conditions and restrictions ,,,

Subsection (2) goes on to specify how close the towing firm must be located to the site from which the towing occurs, required notification of local police, requirement to stop towing if an owner appears and pays the specified fee while towing is in progress, prohibition of kickbacks, required signage warning of a tow-away zone, required responsiveness of the towing and storage company to requests for recovery of the towed vehicle, signage on the tow truck, liability for damage to the towed vehicle, and other things.

Subsection 2 paragraph g also provides that:

A business owner or lessee may authorize the removal of a vehicle or vessel by a towing company when the vehicle or vessel is parked in such a manner that restricts the normal operation of business; and if a vehicle or vessel parked on a public right-of-way obstructs access to a private driveway the owner, lessee, or agent may have the vehicle or vessel removed by a towing company upon signing an order that the vehicle or vessel be removed without a posted tow-away zone sign.

Subsection (3) prohibits towing under this section of:

law enforcement, firefighting, rescue squad, ambulance, or other emergency vehicles or vessels that are marked as such ...

So under 715.07 (2) (g) a car placed as described in the question, which would seem to be "obstruct[ing] access to a private driveway" may be towed if the "owner, lessee, or agent" engages a towing company who complies with the various requirements to do so. The owner or "person in control" of the car will have to pay a fee (half price if such a person appears before the towing is complete), the property owner does not (and may not) pay, but is liable if damage is done to the vehicle that is towed.

As for best practices, while an "obstructing" vehicle may be towed even in the absence of any signage, placing signs as described in detail in 715.07 (2) might be a good idea, as it places drivers clearly on notice, and avoids any argument about whether a vehicle is "obstructing" or not. Since such signs must include the telephone number of the towing company, selecting a company in advance is needed before posting such signs.

There is apparently no need to call the police to order such a tow.

If possible it might be a good idea to notify the driver personally as well.

The person ordering the tow must be the "owner or lessee" of the property, or be authorized by the owner or lessee. It would be a good idea for there to be a written authorization. There is no mentio0n of an HOA in the law. An HOA or an officer of an HOA could be an "agent". HOA rules or bylaws are apparently not required.

Yes, in Maryland

For comparison, I checked the state law for Maryland on the same subject. It has a law generally similar, Although different in detail, to the Florida law. As in Florida, the property owner or owner's agent may order the towing, with no need to call the police or obtain a court order in advance. As in Florida, there is specific required signage. As in Florida, the vehicle owner must be notified. As in Florida, there are a number of specific requirements imposed on a towing company which performs such tows, and the obvious assumption is that there will be companies who do such towing on a regular basis.

The page "Key Provisions in the New Maryland Towing Law" (posted by a law firm that represents community associations) gives a detailed summery of the law, including additional laws in specific counties. The actual state law is at Maryland Code, Transportation § 21-10A-04. It provides that:

(a) Unless otherwise set by local law, a person who undertakes the towing or removal of a vehicle from a parking lot:

(1) May not charge the owner of the vehicle, the owner's agent, the insurer of record, or any secured party more than:

(i) Twice the amount of the total fees normally charged or authorized by the political subdivision for the public safety impound towing of vehicles;

(ii) Notwithstanding § 16-207(f)(1) of the Commercial Law Article , the fee normally charged or authorized by the political subdivision from which the vehicle was towed for the daily storage of impounded vehicles;

(iii) If a political subdivision does not establish a fee limit for the public safety towing, recovery, or storage of impounded vehicles, $250 for towing and recovering a vehicle and $30 per day for vehicle storage;  and

(iv) Subject to subsection (b) of this section, the actual cost of providing notice under this section;

(2) Shall notify the police department in the jurisdiction where the parking lot is located within 1 hour after towing or removing the vehicle from the parking lot, and shall provide the following information:

(i) A description of the vehicle including the vehicle's registration plate number and vehicle identification number;

{other specified ID information}

(3) Shall notify the owner, any secured party, and the insurer of record by certified mail, return receipt requested, and first-class mail within 7 days, exclusive of days that the towing business is closed, after towing or removing the vehicle, and shall provide the same information required in a notice to a police department under item (2) of this subsection;

(4) Shall provide to the owner, any secured party, and the insurer of record the itemized actual costs of providing notice under this section;

(5) Before towing or removing the vehicle, shall have authorization of the parking lot owner which shall include:

(i) The name of the person authorizing the tow or removal;

(ii) A statement that the vehicle is being towed or removed at the request of the parking lot owner;  and

(iii) Photographic evidence of the violation or event that precipitated the towing of the vehicle;

(6) Shall obtain commercial liability insurance in the amount required by federal law ...;

(7) May not employ or otherwise compensate individuals, commonly referred to as “spotters”, whose primary task is to report the presence of unauthorized parked vehicles for the purposes of towing or removal, and impounding;

(8) May not pay any remuneration to the owner, agent, or employee of the parking lot;  and

(9) May not tow a vehicle solely for a violation of failure to display a valid current registration under § 13-411 of this article until 72 hours after a notice of violation is placed on the vehicle.

Other US States

Michigan

Section 257.252d provides that:

(1) A police agency or a governmental agency designated by the police agency may provide for the immediate removal of a vehicle from public or private property to a place of safekeeping at the expense of the last-titled owner of the vehicle in any of the following circumstances:

...

(c) If a vehicle is parked in a posted tow away zone.

...

(g) If the vehicle is hampering the use of private property by the owner or person in charge of that property or is parked in a manner that impedes the movement of another vehicle.

Section 257.252e provides that:

(1) The following courts have jurisdiction to determine if a police agency, towing agency or custodian, or private property owner has acted properly in reporting or processing a vehicle under section 252a, 252b(6) to (11), or 252d: (a) The district court. (b) A municipal court.

Section 257.252k provides that:

Except as otherwise provided in section 252l, an owner or lessor of private real property shall post a notice that meets all of the following requirements before authorizing the towing or removal of a vehicle from the real property without the consent of the owner or other person who is legally entitled to possess the vehicle:

[Goes on to specify the size, placement, and content of required signage. These are not highly different from the Florida law.]

So it appears that an obstructing car could in circumstances similar to those in the question could be towed in Michigan, but the police might have to be called. 257.252k seems to imply that the property owner can authorize towing, but 257.252d seems to require polite involvement.

New Jersey

NJ Code 13:45A-31.6 (Towing motor vehicles from private property) provides that:

(a) A private property towing company shall not remove a motor vehicle from private property without the consent of the owner or operator of the motor vehicle, unless:

  1. The private property towing company has entered into a written contract with the owner of the private property to provide private property towing services;
  2. The owner of the private property has posted a sign, in a conspicuous place at each vehicular entrance, at least 36 inches high and 36 inches wide stating:

i. The purposes for which parking is authorized and the times during which such parking is permitted;

ii. That unauthorized parking is prohibited and unauthorized motor vehicles will be towed at the owner's expense;

iii. The name, address and telephone number of the private property towing company that will perform the private property towing;

... [Several other things that must be included on the sign]

  1. The property owner has authorized the private property towing company to remove the motor vehicle; and
  2. The private property towing company tows the motor vehicle to a secure storage facility having the capacity to receive it that is nearest to the site from which the motor vehicle is towed.

(b) The provisions of (a) above shall not apply if a motor vehicle is parked:

  1. On a lot or parcel on which is situated a single-family unit;
  2. On a lot or parcel on which is situated an owner occupied multi-unit structure of not more than six units; or
  3. In front of any driveway or garage entrance where the motor vehicle is blocking access to that driveway or entrance.

So the NJ laws are roughly similar to those of Florida and Maryland, and do not require police authorization in such a case, and where the vehicle is "blocking access to [a] driveway or entrance." no signage seems to be required for towing to be legal.

The NJ laws quoted above and other related laws are included in "Private Property and Non-Consensual Towing Companies; NJAC 13:45A-31.1 to 31.10" a PDF from the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs

0

Get a court order

The law here is very simple: if it’s not yours, leave it alone and sue the owner.

No towing company will touch a vehicle unless instructed by the owner, by the police or fire & rescue (and they won’t give such an instruction unless it poses a risk to life), or by a court.

4
  • 2
    Note that this is not the case in Florida, where it can be legal to tow a vehicle without a court order, if appropriate procedures are followed. I linked the relevant statute above. Nov 26 '20 at 20:33
  • in germany cars in fire exits are towed regularly.
    – Trish
    Dec 18 '20 at 12:55
  • In Germany, if a fire engine needs to get through, it will get through, whether you parked in its way or not.
    – gnasher729
    Dec 28 '20 at 11:49
  • Wow! I'm surprised.
    – ohwilleke
    May 29 at 1:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.