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Towing Tips

Tricks of the Trade

Parking in some areas of Miami-Dade can be tricky, especially when negotiating for limited spaces in trendy Coral Gables or Miami Beach. Although often frustrating, drivers should be aware of where they park and avoid designated tow-away zones. Otherwise, you may find yourself stranded.

The Miami-Dade Consumer Services Division explains what you need to be aware of to keep your vehicle right where you left it. The Consumer Services Division also makes sure your rights are protected from potentially unscrupulous towers who may be on the prowl.

Common Rip-offs

Unauthorized tows: To protect consumers from having their vehicles randomly towed at the discretion of a tow truck operator, the private property owner or his authorized agent must provide specific instructions to have a vehicle towed. Authorization for the towing of a vehicle is not justified solely by the posting of a sign or a contract between the towing operator and the property owner. Signature, date and time are required for a tow to be legal.

Access to your vehicle: If you contact the towing service provider after business hours with a request to retrieve your vehicle, the towing service provider must return to the storage facility within one hour to release your vehicle. If your vehicle is being stored as a result of a tow, you or your authorized representative must be allowed to inspect the vehicle and remove all personal property prior to paying the tow bill.

Students: In the event your vehicle is towed, be sure to have these documents handy to help you retrieve your vehicle without a problem and avoid incurring additional and costly storage fees from tow companies. If your vehicle is in someone else’s name, such as a parent, add your name to the vehicle registration, and title if possible, with your parent’s assistance. If the vehicle is not registered in your name, you may need to provide an original, notarized affidavit signed by the registered vehicle owner that explains you are an authorized representative acting on their behalf in all matters concerning the vehicle. Make sure to include a description of the vehicle in the affidavit (i.e. make, model, year, color and VIN). Keep a copy of the vehicle registration.


Consumer Smarts

  • Be careful where you park. If you enter a parking lot for a specific business or group of businesses, the property owner may have your vehicle towed if you leave your vehicle parked there and walk to another location close by but not on the property.
  • Forms of payment. The towing service provider must accept at least two forms of payment -- either cash (including money order or valid traveler's check), a valid bank credit card or valid personal check.
  • Get everything in writing. Tow truck operators are not allowed to approach inoperable vehicles (broken down, involved in an accident, etc.) and offer towing services, unless the tower has been summoned by law enforcement or the motorist. If you call or flag down a tow truck, get written confirmation of the charges before accepting the service.
  • Tow-Away Zone. Signs must include the name and address of the towing service provider and the address of the storage facility.
  • Call police. Towing service providers must report each tow to the police within 30 minutes of the tow. If you suspect your vehicle may have been towed, or stolen, contact your local police department.
  • Release on site. If you arrive at the scene while your vehicle is being towed and would like it released on site, the tow operator has to release your vehicle for half of the current towing rate, which presently is $101.
  • Office hours. If your vehicle is towed, it must be brought to a storage facility within a 10-mile radius of the location from where it was towed. The storage facility must have an office that is open from at least 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays.

Towers are required to be licensed with the Miami-Dade Consumer Services Division and meet safety equipment requirements, maintain adequate insurance coverage, and comply with vehicle signage, identification and advertising requirements.

Back to Top Page Last Edited: Fri Jul 21, 2017 10:36:52 AM

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