Everything You Need to Know About Maryland Towing Laws

When your car is towed, you still have rights! Click here to learn more about Maryland’s towing laws.
Written by Nathan Porceng
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
law allows police and property owners to tow vehicles that are illegally parked. However, they can’t charge you excessive fees, and in most cases, they must give notice.
Confused by Maryland’s towing laws? Think your car may have been illegally towed? Maryland’s towing laws are long and complicated, even without added carve-outs and caveats from local jurisdictions. 
Navigating towing laws can be frustrating, and we want to help you! Read on for our breakdown of Maryland’s towing laws including when your vehicle can be towed and what notice is required.
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When can police tow a vehicle in Maryland? 

Maryland’s towing laws are lengthy, wordy, and frustratingly confusing. Just take a look at Title 21 Subtitle 10A of the Maryland Transportation Code. It’s no wonder finding a straight answer on Maryland’s towing laws is so tough!
Don’t worry—you don’t need to tackle that mess of words alone. Basically, police in Maryland can tow your vehicle if it is:
  • Abandoned
  • Parked in a way that it presents a hazard to public safety
  • Impedes or obstructs the normal movement of pedestrian or vehicular traffic
Maryland police must provide notice within seven days of towing your vehicle. Notice will be sent by certified mail to the last known registered owner of the vehicle.
These are just state regulations. Counties, cities, and towns may also maintain their own towing regulations. If you ever have any questions about what regulations apply to you, contact your local law enforcement agencies.

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

If the police tow your car, it is imperative that you get it back within three weeks. The process for retrieving your vehicle may vary based on your jurisdiction, but you’ll likely need to contact your local law enforcement agency, provide your driver’s license and proof of insurance, and pay all transportation and storage fees incurred from towing your vehicle. If you don’t, you may lose your car forever!
That might sound unfair, but it’s Maryland law. Outside of Baltimore City, if an abandoned or impounded vehicle sits unclaimed for three weeks, the state considers the owner as having waived all rights, interest, and title in the abandoned vehicle. In Baltimore City, the law is even stricter, and owners are allowed just 11 days
After the designated time period elapses, the police may sell your vehicle at a public auction. The highest bidder wins the vehicle and is free to claim its title and register it in their name. The police will use the money from the auction to pay any transportation or storage fees incurred from towing the vehicle. 
If there are any profits left over, the former owner of the vehicle may be able to claim them. If 90 days elapse without a claim from the former owner, the funds revert to the Treasury of the State.

When can private property owners tow a vehicle in Maryland?

So, we’ve gone over when police can tow your car and what happens when they do. But what about landlords and private property owners?
Landlords and private property owners may tow your vehicle, but first, they generally need to provide notice in the form of a sign, and not any old sign will do. The sign must be:
  • Posted in a conspicuous location
  • Be at least 24 inches high and 30 inches wide
  • Be clearly visible to the driver parking the motor vehicle
  • State the location to which the vehicle will be towed and the name of the towing company
  • State that Maryland law requires that the vehicle be available for recovery 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • State the maximum amount that the vehicle’s owner may be charged for towing the vehicle
  • Provide a telephone number that the owner can contact to reclaim their vehicle
Property owners are required to post at least one sign for every 7,500 square feet of parking space. If a property owner fails to obey the above requirements, you may be able to make a case that your vehicle was illegally towed.
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When can your car be towed without notice in Maryland?

Again, parking regulations vary depending on local regulations, which is part of the reason they’re so frustrating! There is no set answer for when your car can be towed without notice in the state of Maryland. You will need to check with your local law enforcement agencies to know for sure.
However, there is a good deal of overlap between local regulations. Generally, your car may be towed immediately if:
  • You initiated the towing
  • The towing was requested or approved by a police officer, firefighter, or rescue squad worker in the course of removing impediments to traffic, or during the course of a criminal investigation,
  • Your car is being towed for repossession 
  • Your car is parked in a marked fire lane
  • Your car is illegally parked in a designated parking spot for persons with disabilities 
  • Your car is parked in the driveway of a single-family dwelling
  • Your car is parked on land immediately adjoining a telephone or electric utility building or structure not open to the general public
If you don’t fall into any of the above categories, notice is probably required prior to towing your vehicle.

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

When The Clash penned their classic hit “Know Your Rights,” they probably didn’t have towing laws in mind. That said, it’s important to know what rights you have when your vehicle is towed, including: 
  • The right to notice before your vehicle is towed, except in extenuating circumstances
  • The right to notice that your vehicle has been towed
  • The right to know where your vehicle has been towed, how to contact the place where your vehicle is being held, and how much it will cost to recover your vehicle
  • The right to recover your vehicle within a designated time frame
  • The right to retrieve personal belongings from your vehicle if you can’t pay to recover it
Again, if your vehicle has been towed, immediately contact your local law enforcement agencies, especially if you think that your vehicle was towed illegally. 
MORE:How to get car insurance with a bad driving record

How to save on car insurance in Maryland

While getting towed won’t automatically raise your car insurance rates, repeated parking and traffic violations will. Whether you have a clean driving record or have made a few mistakes, you can still save money by shopping for a new car insurance policy with
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In Maryland, maximum towing fees are set by local (typically county) governments.  However, if a local jurisdiction does not set a maximum towing fee, the state imposes a maximum limit of $250 for towing and $30 per day for vehicle storage. To learn more about the maximum towing fees that apply to you, contact your local law enforcement agencies.
No. A landlord must give notice or post signs prior to towing your car.
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