Everything You Need to Know About Massachusetts Towing Laws

Your vehicle could be towed in Massachusetts for a fine of up to $108, plus storage charges, if it’s illegally parked or abandoned.
Written by Cassandra Hamilton
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
In
Massachusetts
, police and private property owners can have vehicles towed if they are illegally parked or abandoned. You may have to pay high towing and storage fees to get your vehicle back after it’s been towed, so you need to know your rights.
  • Massachusetts towing laws allow for police and private property owners to tow vehicles that are illegally parked or abandoned.
  • Fees associated with police-ordered or other tows range from towing and storage fees to administrative and transfer charges.
  • If your car gets towed in Massachusetts, you have certain rights, including the right to a quick hearing and to pay tow and storage fees by credit card.

Massachusetts towing laws for police 

Massachusetts state law allows the state police to tow your vehicle when:
  • The vehicle was stolen or taken without the owner’s consent
  • The vehicle is disabled and obstructing traffic and/or is an obvious hazard to public safety
  • The operator of the vehicle is arrested and the vehicle would be left unattended on a public way
  • The vehicle is improperly parked or standing in violation of a state or municipal law or regulation
  • The vehicle is not validly
    registered
    or
    insured
  • The vehicle, in its current condition, is too hazardous or dangerous to be driven
  • Adverse weather conditions or other emergency reasons require the removal of the vehicle 
There might be more reasons why law enforcement might tow your vehicle, but these are the big ones. If your vehicle is towed by the police, it will be taken to an impound lot.
The bottom line: Police may only tow your vehicle if it’s parked illegally or has been abandoned, or in certain emergency circumstances, like inclement weather.

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

If your vehicle is taken to an impound lot, make sure you recover it within 30 calendar days. After this, the vehicle will go to auction and you won’t be able to get it back. 
Call the impound lot as soon as you can after your vehicle is towed to get instructions for recovery. If you’re the registered owner of the vehicle, you should be able to get the vehicle back by showing up during normal business hours and providing:
If you’re not the towed vehicle’s owner, you should still be able to recover the vehicle with the above items. 
It should be simple to get your car back from the impound lot—should be. More often than not, fees complicate the recovery of a vehicle and can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. 
Fees include:
  • Towing fees
  • Daily storage fees
  • Administrative fees
  • Transfer charge fees
  • After-hours fees, lien charges, and auction fees (when applicable) 
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Massachusetts towing laws for private property owners

Private property towing laws are covered by
Section 120D
of Massachusetts law. 
This law mandates that a property owner or their agent must provide written notice to the chief of police or their designee that they are going to tow a vehicle. The property owner must also expressly forbid you from parking there, either verbally or by displaying tow away signs.
If a property owner doesn’t follow the above criteria, they are subject to a fine of up to $100. 
Once your vehicle is towed, it must be stored in a convenient location—that means you won’t have to travel 20 miles, for example, to get your car back.
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Massachusetts towing laws for parking lots

Parking lot tows follow the same laws as those that govern tows from private property. Your vehicle can also be towed from a parking lot if:
  • The vehicle is illegally parked
  • The vehicle has five or more overdue parking tickets
You can check your
driving record
to see if you have any outstanding tickets through the
Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles
.

Know your rights if your car gets towed in Massachusetts

If your car is towed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for any reason, you have certain protections under Massachusetts general laws. Your rights include:
  • A walk-in hearing within five days of your tow
  • The right to have your car taken off the tow truck if you show up before the tow is completed
  • The right to pay be credit card
If your vehicle has been towed, call the tow company right away for more details and instructions. You can find this information on a sign posted on the private property your vehicle was towed from, or from the local police department if the police had your vehicle towed.  
All Massachusetts private tow companies are regulated by the
Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities
. If you think you’ve been wrongly towed, you can
file a complaint
with the state.
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FAQs

As of July 2022, the max charge for involuntary towing by police or from private property is $108. The max rate for storage is $35 per 24 hours.
You’ll have to double-check your lease on this one—sometimes, landlords can sneak parking regulations into your lease and count that as notice of a tow. Otherwise, your landlord has to provide you with notice that you’re in violation of parking rules.
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