All You Know About Tennessee Towing Laws

The best way to avoid getting your car towed in Tennessee is by knowing the law. Click here to learn more.
Written by Macy Fouse
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
, the law gives police and property owners the right to tow vehicles that are parked illegally or have been abandoned—but that’s not the full story. Retrieving your vehicle after it’s been impounded will also require paying pricey fees, so it’s crucial to be aware of the laws surrounding towing in the state.

When can police tow a vehicle in Tennessee? 

In Tennessee, the towing laws are comparatively straightforward, but we’ll just hit the top three most pertinent towing laws to make it even simpler. To start things off, let’s look at the circumstances that could lead to police towing a vehicle in the Volunteer State.
Law 55-16-111
outlines that an immobile vehicle cannot legally be towed without authorization from the owner until it’s been immobile or unattended for 12 hours. The exceptions to this include if the vehicle is:
  • Creating a hazard
  • Preventing access to public or private property
  • Being illegally parked
For legal purposes, a vehicle is considered “immobile” if it cannot be moved due to a breakdown, weather, accident, or another emergency. Be sure to note that this law means your car can be towed in less than 12 hours if it’s parked illegally. 
According to
Tennessee Law 55-5-129
, police can also tow and impound a vehicle if the car is thought to be stolen or unregistered. However, if the car is on private property, the police must gain permission from the property owner before proceeding. 
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How to get your car out of an impound lot in Tennessee

So your car got towed, and now it’s in an impound lot—what do you do next? The process will differ depending on what city you’re in. To get your vehicle back, the first step you’ll need to take is to call your local impound lot to locate your car, or call the local police department to find out where your vehicle was taken.
When you go to retrieve your vehicle, you’ll need to bring the following items with you:
  • Proof of ownership
  • Proof of insurance 
  • Driver’s license or photo ID
You’ll also be expected to pay a fee to get your car back, which can cost up to $200 for average vehicles—but it can vary depending on the city and circumstances.

When can private property owners tow a vehicle in Tennessee?

Now we know all the scenarios that could cause you to be towed by police in Tennessee, but private property owners can also legally have your car towed. 
Law 66-28-518
lays out all the circumstances when a landlord can have a vehicle towed from their property—they just have to give ten days written notice posted on the vehicle first. The landlord doesn’t have to provide notice, however, if the vehicle has violated a posted parking policy. This could also include violating posted parking signage regarding traffic lanes, fire hydrants, or accessible parking areas.

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

Under Tennessee
Law Code 55-8-160
, a car can be towed from a parking lot if it fits the criteria from the previous two sections. A vehicle can also be towed if it is parked in a spot reserved for disabled parking without a proper permit. 
To avoid being towed, be sure to look out for any posted signage—no matter where you’re parking. 

How to save on car insurance in Tennessee

If your vehicle was towed in Tennessee, not only will you have to deal with the hassle of getting your car back and paying hefty fees, but if your tow was the result of an at-fault accident, DUI, or a traffic violation, you can expect your
car insurance
premium to increase by quite a bit.  
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There’s no statewide maximum towing fee or policy in Tennessee, and the fees will vary depending on the city or county you’re in. For instance, a vehicle towed from the inner loop of
to the Metro Impound Lot will cost $155. To get an exact number, you’ll need to call your local police department and ask.
In some cases. If a vehicle violates the landlord’s posted signage regarding parking and traffic restrictions on the property, the landlord can have a car removed without notice. If the vehicle isn’t violating any posted rules, the landlord must provide ten days' written notice before towing.
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