Car Owners Have Rights Regarding Towing Companies

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation wants consumers to know that their basic rights if their vehicle gets towed

Jerry Cornelius was working when someone stole his truck.  Weeks later, he received notice that his car had been found and towed to a storage facility.

At the impound lot, Cornelius' family found his car with its window partially rolled down, and the company demanded only one type of payment; both are violations according to The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

"When we tried to pay for it, we tried to pay with a credit card and they wouldn’t take the credit card, we had to pay cash," said Lisa Battle, Cornelius' daughter.

The TDLR said customers at any vehicle holding facility should've had at least one other option.

"They don’t have to pay cash only, they can use credit card, electronic checks, or debit card depending on the facility," said TDLR's Field Compliance Inspector David Montgomery.

TDLR oversees all vehicle towing and vehicle storage facilities throughout the state. They're constantly monitoring consumer complaints and looking into possible violations.

In Battle's case, her father's truck was also found with the driver's side window partially rolled down.

"The vehicle storage facilities are required to tarp and protect the vehicle," said Montgomery. "They can use plastic liners around it, shrink wrap, various methods they have to protect that vehicle."

Montgomery added that the company should've notified police within two hours of receiving all vehicles from a private property tow.

Battle said the company she dealt with never notified police.

TDLR looks into about 60 companies a year. Program Specialist Todd Forrester said there are ways to get your money back if consumers feel the tow wasn't legitimate.

"If you feel you’ve been towed illegally, contact any justice court in which the vehicle was towed, in that county, and file for a tow hearing," he said.

Battle said because her car was stolen, she didn't think she would have to pay so much money to get it back. She thought about fighting for her case but decided it wasn't worth it.

"That’s just more time and effort. You’ve got to take off of work, you have to go and take care of everything while they just sit there with all your money," she said.

Forrester said in addition to contacting the court system, consumers should also file a complaint with TDLR.

More information or any questions regarding towing matters can be directed to their website —

Contact Us