Finding a place to park in the city can be a challenge. However, if you leave it where it doesn’t belong, your vehicle may be towed. If this happens to you, you could face steep fines to get it back. That’s not to say that every company follows our state’s towing laws. We’ll provide an explanation of Indianapolis’ unlawful towing practicesso you don’t become a victim.
Indianapolis Code of Ordinances
Tow truck by Temari 09 is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0
Before delving into how Indianapolis’ towing laws are broken, it’s important to discuss the city’s parking ordinances, specifically sections 995-302 through 995-307. Officials set up these towing laws to protect your rights. Understanding these statutes can help you retrieve your vehicle and provide you with legal avenues to pursue if your car is removed from its parking space unlawfully.
The ordinance states, in summary, that all “No Parking” signs must be in plain view of all a lot’s entrances and exits. If a lot owner or agent calls for removal, they must provide a licensed towing company with written authorization to remove your vehicle, including the address, the car’s year, make and model, VIN, and license plate number. The ticket must also specify a legal reason for the tow, the date, and the time.
The parking lot owner is liable if your vehicle is damaged during improper towing, and the company has to store it within a 15-mile radius of where it was originally parked. It must be available for pickup within an hour of removal or anytime you decide to retrieve it, 24 hours a day, seven days a week — once you pay the fee, that is. The person who called for your removal must also provide photographic or video evidence that you were illegally parked if you contest the tow.
The maximum tow fee in Indianapolis is $150. You’ll also pay a daily impound rate. However, that fee can’t exceed $30 and doesn’t begin accruing until 24 hours after your car is placed in storage. The tow company can’t restrict access to your personal items inside the vehicle, nor can they charge you a fee to retrieve them. If your car is still on the ground, you can ask the tow driver to release it. However, if at least two of your car’s tires are already loaded on the tow truck, you’re out of luck.
When Can Police Tow a Vehicle?
There are numerous scenarios in which a police officer can legally tow your vehicle. One common way to find yourself with a tow charge is following a car accident. That’s just one possibility, and this list certainly doesn’t cover every scenario. However, according to Indiana’s standard operating procedures, your car can be removed by law enforcement if it:
- Is evidence of a crime or part of a crime scene.
- Was reported stolen and is being recovered.
- Poses a hazard or threat to the public.
- Is parked in violation of any ordinance.
- Isn’t properly registered or plated.
- Is operated in an unsafe manner.
- Is in poor working condition.
- Creates a traffic hazard.
- Impedes a business’s operations.
When Is It Legal To Tow From a Private Property?
Have you ever walked outside and discovered your car was towed from private property? You’re not alone. However, Indianapolis has specific laws about when your vehicle can be towed, and some towing companies don’t follow them. Unfortunately, city officials give people a lot of freedom to remove cars from their private property, so it’s essential to know the law for your own protection.
If you leave your car on private property without permission, the owner can consider it abandoned. That means that all the individual must do to stay compliant is to affix a notice on your vehicle that says they’ll tow it if you don’t move it. Thankfully, the city does require a 24-hour waiting period after tagging a deserted car before they can have it removed. This law won’t protect you in every scenario, however. Your vehicle can be towed immediately in an emergency situation or if it’s blocking any entrances or exits — at your expense.
What Constitutes an Abandoned Vehicle?
It can be frustrating to leave your car in what you think is a safe location only to return to an empty parking spot. For example, if your car broke down after dark, and you planned to return after work the next day with a mechanic. Why would the property owner consider the vehicle abandoned when it was only left overnight? For your vehicle to be legally deemed an abandoned vehicle in Indianapolis, your car must be:
- Left illegally on public property.
- Parked on public property for at least 24 hours.
- A hazard on public property.
- An obstruction to either vehicular or pedestrian traffic.
- Partially dismantled or inoperable.
- Left on private property without consent for 48 hours.
What Happens to My Car After a Tow?
It happened. Your car was unlawfully towed. Now, what should you do? If the company didn’t follow state law, you might have recourse. Of course, your first step is to get your vehicle out of impound. Either the business owner, private party, or police officer can provide you with the towing company’s name, phone number, and address where your vehicle is stored. Contact them to arrange pickup, and bring proof of ownership and your photo ID. Then, pay the related fees to recover your car, which may include towing, storage, administrative services, fuel, and drop charges.
Once you have your vehicle in your possession, you can lodge a dispute. To file a complaint in Indianapolis, you should email email@example.com or call (219) 300-5204. Ensure you keep copies of all your paperwork to substantiate your claim. Reporting the company to the Better Business Bureau may also help your dispute gain traction. Companies want to maintain a positive file with this organization to help instill consumer confidence, and a negative rating can be detrimental to their business.
If you have additional questions about unlawful towing laws in Indianapolis, contact Alvarez Law Office in Indianapolis, Indiana. Our knowledgeable team is available to speak with you right now. We can help you recover your vehicle and collect any damages that occurred during the tow. Feel free to send us a secure online message or call us at (219) 300-5204.
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