It's a sight no driver ever wants to see: their car being towed away on a tow truck.
We've heard from dozens of consumers who believe their car was wrongfully towed, but most drivers don't do anything about it or, at least, they don't know what can be done about it.
"If we don't know about it, we can't investigate it and we can't help you," Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation's Susan Stanford said.
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Stanford said motorists can help put an end to wrongful towing, but knowing the law is key. For example, if you see your car being loaded onto a tow truck but it's not fully hooked up and ready for the driver to pull off, the driver must drop your car for free if you ask. No charges.
But what if your car is already hooked up? If the tow truck driver hasn't driven away, the driver must offer you a drop fee of no more than $125.
If your car ends up in a tow lot, you have to pay to get it out. But you can dispute it with a Justice of the Peace within 14 days. If the court sides with you, you'll get your money back.
If you can prove the driver knew your car was parked legally but towed it anyway, you may be entitled to receive three times the amount you paid plus an extra $1,000 for your trouble. That means if you paid $250 to get your vehicle out, you could walk away with $1,750 if you win a dispute.
But it's up to drivers to know the rules to protect their cars and their pocketbooks.
If your car is in the process of being towed, here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:
- Record the towing that's taking place on your cell phone
- Take several pictures of where you parked
- Before parking, always be sure to read the signs carefully
- Never chase a tow truck. You can follow them to the storage facility