Everything You Need to Know About Utah Towing Laws

Abandoned or improperly parked cars are subject to towing in Utah, but owners have protections if their vehicles are illegally towed.
Written by Mary Alice Morris
In
Utah
, law enforcement can tow your vehicle for certain violations, and property owners can have it towed off if it’s been improperly parked. But as a car owner, you do have certain rights to protect yourself from having your car illegally towed. 
  • In the state of Utah, police may tow a vehicle to impound if it’s abandoned or if the driver is arrested
  • Private property owners must provide proper notice before a vehicle can be towed.
  • Utah car owners’ rights are protected from towing companies by a consumer’s bill of rights 

Police can tow a vehicle in Utah if it’s abandoned or the driver is arrested 

Utah code section 72-9-603
covers all the state’s towing regulations, including when and how a vehicle may be towed off to impound. 
Utah police may have your car towed to impound if:
  • The vehicle has been abandoned
  • The vehicle is posing a hazard by being parked on or adjacent to a highway
  • The vehicle’s driver has been arrested
  • A crash has left the vehicle inoperable or the driver incapacitated
  • The vehicle has improper, expired, or no registration
  • The vehicle has been driven in an unnecessary or loud manner that disturbs the peace
  • The driver’s registration or
    license has been revoked
    due to lack of insurance, driving offenses, or other violations such as drug-related crimes
While different law enforcement agencies have different policies, you should be aware of the Utah State Highway Patrol’s policies for vehicle abandonment on state highways. 
These abandoned vehicle policies state that:
  • A vehicle obstructing traffic or posing a hazard will be towed away immediately. 
  • A vehicle abandoned with at least two wheels on the pavement of a state highway is subject to removal after two hours.
  • An abandoned vehicle that is completely off the pavement may be removed after 48 hours. 

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

After a car is impounded: The Department of Motor Vehicles will send an impoundment notice to the last address of the owner of a vehicle according to the vehicle’s registration. 
But the clock starts ticking before you get that notice: In Utah, the state tax commission may sell your vehicle at auction as soon as 30 days after it was towed—meaning you risk losing your vehicle altogether. 
Here’s what you need to do to get your towed vehicle out of impound in Utah:
  • Prove ownership: Go to your local DMV office with proper evidence of ownership, such as a title, registration card, or
    bill of sale
    along with your photo identification. 
  • Pay your DMV fees: Pay any fees or penalties owed to the DMV, and request a Letter of Impound Release.
  • Hand over the DMV letter: Take the Letter of Impound Release to the lot where your car is being held, and pay any fees owed for the towing and impoundment. 
Here are some fee types you might face when you retrieve your vehicle:
  • Storage fees, assessed daily
  • Administrative fees
  • Drop fee
  • Transfer charge fees
  • Fuel surcharge
  • After-hours fees, lien charges, or possible auction fees
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Private property owners can only tow your vehicle with written notice

While the police have a lot of leeway when deciding whether or not to tow a vehicle, the rules for private property owners are a little more restrictive. 
First, the property owner is subject to notice requirements to let the owner of the vehicle know it is being towed:
  • Proper signage: This might be a “No Parking” sign posted in plain view.
  • Written notice: A notice must be affixed to the vehicle indicating that it will be towed for 24 hours before it can legally be removed from the property.
If your vehicle is removed from private property due to improper parking, Utah state law says you will only be responsible for paying for the tow truck operator’s service, storage fees, and any administrative impound fees. 

Your car can be towed from a parking lot if you parked improperly

There are a few conditions in which your car can legally be towed away to impoundment from a parking lot in Utah. 
This might happen if:
  • Your car is parked in a legally designated disabled parking space and doesn’t display the proper
    disabled parking plates or placards
    .
  • You violate any state laws that prohibit parking by parking in a fire lane or within 15 feet of a fire hydrant.
  • Your parking area prevents access to the property.
  • Your vehicle is parked where it is reasonably visible that the area is not intended for parking and/or is subject to parking restrictions.

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

If your car has been towed without your consent in Utah, you do have some rights to contest the impoundment and to know the status and fees associated with your vehicle. 
Your rights include:
  • The right to verify your vehicle’s towing has been Utah Motor Vehicle Division Impound Vehicle System
  • The right to receive documentation indicating the date and time impoundment began
  • The right to file a complaint claiming overcharges and other disputes with the Utah Department of Transportation
To check your vehicle’s status after towing, visit
http://www.tow.utah.gov/
and enter your vehicle’s information. You can also get more information from the law enforcement agency that is local to the location of the vehicle before it was towed.  
Learn more: Check out the
Utah Consumer Bill of Rights Regarding Towing
on the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) website. 
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FAQs

Utah has established a fee schedule for tow truck services, which sets a maximum storage fee for non-consent impoundments on cars with a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds or less. 
Whether your car was towed on behalf of law enforcement or a private property owner, the impoundment lot can only charge up to $40 a day for the cost of outside vehicle storage.
Yes, but you need to be able to prove your ownership of the vehicle. Take your proof of ownership and identification to the impoundment lot where your car is stored during normal business hours to retrieve personal items not attached to the vehicle.
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