When is it Legal to Call a Tow Truck?
Updated January 2018
Oftentimes a car is towed because the real inconvenience lies on the property owner, not the driver. What happens when you’re about to leave for work in the morning, and there’s a car parked parallel in front of your driveway? Or when a hideous broken down vehicle has been parked in front of your house for two days? Or when people are parking in your business’ lot, taking up customer’s spots, and going to watch a movie across the street?
Some people will leave a note on the car, letting the car owner know that they’ll call the police if it isn’t removed in 24 hours, or if the car is seen unauthorized in that lot again. There are other examples where it’s necessary, legal, and free to call a towing company.
When to Call a Towing Company
The following are conditions when, under Washington state law, a car will be legally towed from your property without a charge from you:
On Public Property
- If the vehicle constitutes a traffic hazard, such as blocking a lane or intersection, or impeding the flow of traffic in any way, it can be towed immediately.
- If the vehicle is parked in a publicly owned or controlled parking facility, it can be towed immediately. This applies mostly to parking garages, public parks/facilities, when the driver leaves the car and goes somewhere other than where the lot is designated for. Here, only a law enforcement official or public official has the authority to order the impoundment.
If the vehicle is parked in a public right-of-way, a person needs to call the public official of the location to have it removed.
On Private Property
- On a residential property, it can be towed immediately. A residential property is defined as one having “no more than four housing units on the property”. That means, if you are the one with the car blocking your driveway, you can call the tow company and have it removed immediately.
- On a private, non-residential property, when signage is properly posted, it can be towed immediately. The sign must meet several requirements, such as being near the entrance of the lot, and being in a clear and visible area. In this circumstance, like someone using your lot as a “drop-off area” for their car, then you are legally allowed to have their car impounded; however, you must provide a signed authorization to the tow truck operator.
- On a private, non-residential property, without a sign: it can be towed after 24 hours.
Some people who call a tow company may feel a sense of guilt, as they know the trouble it’s causing the owner of the vehicle. Just know, it’s in your rights to call a tow company. There’s no need for someone else’s negligence to cause you wasted time or business.
If you have a vehicle that needs to go— and you know when it’s that time— give us a call. We have eight trucks, so we’re able to get anywhere in Vancouver or Battle Ground within minutes. As friendly and experienced technicians, we’ll have it off your hands in no time.