Everything You Need to Know About Texas Towing Laws

Illegally parked, abandoned, or stolen vehicles can be legally towed in Texas. You’ll have 30 days to pay for retrieval.
Written by Mariza Morin
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
towing laws permit law enforcement and private property owners to tow illegally parked or abandoned vehicles. Retrieving your towed vehicle can be expensive and difficult.
  • Police and private property owners have the right to tow vehicles in some cases. 
  • Texas car owners have the right to retrieve personal property from their towed cars.
  • You may have to pay hefty towing and storage fees up to hundreds of dollars.
  • Claim your vehicle within 30 days or you could lose your car in a public auction.

Police can tow unattended, stolen, or illegally parked vehicles in Texas

If your vehicle is illegally parked, blocks traffic, or poses a hazard to others, law enforcement has the right to tow it. 
Texas towing laws are complicated, and they’re governed by
Transportation Code Section 545.305
. This is the section that dictates the towing laws in Texas and gives circumstances where police are legally authorized to tow a vehicle. 
Here are the main causes that would permit police to tow your vehicle under state law:
  • If the vehicle is unattended on a bridge, viaduct, or causeway; or if it’s in a tube or tunnel and obstructs traffic
  • If the vehicle is unlawfully parked and blocks the entrance to a private driveway
  • If the vehicle has been reported as stolen 
  • If the vehicle has been abandoned for more than 48 hours
  • If the vehicle cannot be moved because the driver is incapacitated by illness or injury
  • If the driver is arrested while operating the vehicle
If your vehicle gets towed by the police, they will take it to an impound lot. 
MORE: My car got towed. Now what?

How to get your car out of an impound lot in Texas

Time limit: 30 days
If your vehicle ends up in an impound lot, you’ll have to act fast. The vehicle storage facility (VSF) may sell your car through a public auction after 30 days if you ignore the second notice that’s been mailed out to you. 
Make sure to call the VSF without delay after your vehicle has been towed and follow protocol. To reclaim your vehicle, you must go to the VSF in person and provide the following documents:
  • Proof of identification (state-issued driver’s license, ID card, etc.)
  • Proof of ownership (current registration, insurance card, certificate of title, etc.)
Fees: Hundreds of dollars
You can’t leave the impound with your car without paying an inordinate amount of fees. The exact amount will vary based on your situation, but we can guarantee it definitely won’t be cheap. You can expect to pay in the hundreds to cover: 
  • Tow charge
  • Daily storage charge
  • Notification fee
  • Impoundment fee
  • Governmental or law enforcement fees
MORE: How to get a towed car back without paying
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When can private property owners tow a vehicle in Texas?

According to
Section 2308.252
of the Texas Occupations Code, private property owners may call a tow truck at the owner’s expense if the following rules are ignored:
  • “NO PARKING” signs: The sign must be located in the private parking facility at the time of towing for at least 24 hours. A phone number should be included on the sign. 
  • Notice of parking violation: You may receive an actual notice from the property owner on your windshield that explains that the vehicle is parked in an unauthorized parking space and must be removed. 
  • If you ignore this first notice: A second tow ticket notice must be mailed to you with the same warning. The property owner has to give you until the 15th day after the postmark date of the notice to move it. They must also include a phone number available 24 hours so you can locate your vehicle. 
If your vehicle gets towed by a private property owner, you’ll have to reach out to that person to find out the name of the towing company and the VSF that has removed and stored your towed vehicle. 
The vehicle owner may have to pay the towing fee associated with a private property tow, even if it was a non-consent tow.

When can your car be towed from a parking lot in Texas?

Under Texas Occupations Code subsection
, a vehicle may be towed from a parking lot in Texas if it is:
  • Blocking traffic, an entrance, or an exit
  • Obstructing a fire lane or a
    disabled parking space
  • Leaking a fluid that presents a hazard or threat to others or the property
  • Unlawfully parked on residential property
The same rules apply here, where you might be compelled to pay the towing operator the tow fee as the owner of an unauthorized vehicle in a private parking lot. 
Call the tow truck operator at the telephone number listed on the parking lot signs to arrange an appointment. Make sure to confirm whether they accept credit card payments and whether someone needs to be present to release any booting.

What are my rights if my car is towed in Texas?

If your motor vehicle has been towed in Texas, by law, you still have certain rights. These include:
  • The right to find out the VSF location where your vehicle has been towed
  • The right to retrieve your ownership documents or personal property from the vehicle without having to pay a fee
  • The right to access or claim your vehicle 24 hours, or within one hour at VSF locations that do not accept cars 24 hours a day
  • The right to request a tow hearing in the county where your vehicle was towed, if you believe your vehicle was wrongfully towed
If your vehicle has been towed, you can call your local traffic enforcement agency for more information and instructions on how to proceed. 
If you got a tow for a wrecker as the
result of an accident
, your insurance may or may not pay for the car to get hooked up and dropped off at a repair shop or salvage yard. You may need to pay out-of-pocket if you’re at fault for the crash.
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