Can Someone Legally Tow My Car Without Permission?

Discovering that your car has been towed away without a warning can be shocking. It feels like the rug has been pulled from under you! Based on my personal experiences and thorough research into California law, I am here to shed light on situations when a vehicle can be legally towed without consent.

Are you ready for an in-depth journey? Let’s unravel this complex world of towing together and become aware of our rights as automobile owners.

Key Takeaways

  • In California, towing a car without the owner’s knowledge is permitted if the car is illegally parked on private property and there are clearly visible signs indicating potential towing.
  • If a car is towed without giving notice, the towing company may face legal charges and penalties. The vehicle owner can sue for damages in small claims court if they believe their car was towed unjustly.
  • Vehicle owners should understand their rights, such as proper signage and written authorization requirements, to dispute the legality of a tow and pursue compensation for any resulting damages.
  • Towing without permission can also occur in situations involving abandoned or disabled vehicles, stolen cars, or accidents. It’s important to report theft or accidents promptly and work with authorities to retrieve your vehicle.

Understanding the Process of Towing a Car Without Warning

Can someone legally tow my car without permission

When someone tows a car without the owner’s knowledge, they are taking it without permission and potentially violating the law. Towing a car without giving notice can have serious consequences for the person responsible, as well as legal ramifications for the owner of the vehicle.

Car owners have certain rights in these situations that protect them from unauthorized towing.

What it means to tow a car without the owner’s knowledge

Towing a car without the owner’s knowledge means taking the car away when the owner does not know. The towing company can do this job. They use a big truck to move your car from where you left it.

In California, this is okay if your car parked wrong or broke rules on private land. But they need to put up big signs saying no parking allowed and that cars may get towed. This must happen before your car gets moved without you knowing! So even if you did not know, the rules say it can still be legal, but some steps are needed first.

Consequences for towing a car without giving notice

If a car is towed without giving notice, there can be serious consequences for the person who towed it. In California, if a property owner fails to notify the towing company within 60 minutes before towing a vehicle, the towing company may be guilty of a misdemeanor.

This means they could face legal charges and penalties. Additionally, if the vehicle owner believes that their car was wrongfully towed or in violation of the law, they have the right to file a lawsuit in small claims court to recover damages.

It’s important for both property owners and towing companies to follow the proper notification procedures to avoid these legal consequences.

Legal rights of the car owner

As the owner of a car, it’s important to know your legal rights when it comes to towing. In California, if your vehicle is parked illegally or violates parking regulations on private property, the property owner can legally tow your car without seeking your permission.

However, there are certain requirements that must be met for this to happen legally. First, there must be a visible sign posted on the property that clearly states parking is prohibited and vehicles may be towed.

Additionally, the property owner is required to provide written authorization to the towing company before they can tow your vehicle. If these requirements are not met, you may have grounds to challenge the legality of the tow and potentially seek compensation for any damages incurred during the process.

Factors That Allow Towing Without Permission

Towing without permission can be legally permitted in specific situations, including parking violations on private property, abandonment or disability of vehicles, and cases involving stolen cars or accidents.

Parking violations on private property

If you park your car illegally on private property in California, the property owner has the legal right to tow it without asking for permission. The property owner must have a visible sign posted indicating that parking is not allowed and vehicles may be towed.

They also need to provide written authorization before towing can take place. If they don’t notify the towing company within 60 minutes, the company may be guilty of a misdemeanor.

So, it’s important to follow parking regulations on private property to avoid having your car towed without warning.

Abandoned or disabled vehicles

If a vehicle is abandoned or disabled, it may be legally towed without the owner’s permission in California. This is done to ensure public safety and maintain order on the roads. Some reasons why a vehicle may be considered abandoned include if it has been left unattended for an extended period of time or if it is obstructing traffic. If a vehicle is disabled and poses a hazard to other drivers, it may also be towed. It’s important for vehicle owners to properly maintain their cars and promptly address any issues to avoid them being classified as abandoned or disabled.

Stolen cars or involvement in accidents

If your car is stolen or involved in an accident, it can be legally towed without your permission. Here are some important things to know:

  • If your car is stolen, the police may have it towed to a impound lot for investigation.
  • If your car is involved in an accident and needs to be towed for repairs, the towing company will usually notify you.
  • In these situations, it’s important to report the theft or accident to the authorities and work with them to retrieve your vehicle.
  • Make sure to gather all necessary documentation and information about the incident for insurance purposes.

Rights and Responsibilities of Property Owners and Towing Companies

Property owners possess the right to tow vehicles violating parking rules, but they also carry the responsibility of offering adequate notice and information to the vehicle owners.

Find out what you need to know about towing laws and protecting your rights as a car owner.

Setting up proper “tow-away zone” notices

Regarding establishing appropriate “tow-away zone” notifications, property owners in California must adhere to specific guidelines. According to state law, a visible sign on the property must clearly indicate that parking is prohibited and that vehicles may be towed.

The sign should be at least 17″x22″ in size with 1″ letters. This ensures that vehicle owners are informed about the consequences of parking in those areas. It’s also crucial for property owners to provide written authorization to the towing company before any vehicles can be towed.

By following these steps, property owners can establish clear guidelines and avoid any legal issues related to towing without permission.

Providing information to vehicle owners

If your vehicle is towed without your consent, obtaining essential information about the process is crucial. In California, towing companies must, by law, furnish written notice to the registered owner of the vehicle within 48 hours of the tow.

This notice includes details such as where the vehicle is being stored, the reason for the tow, and how much you’ll need to pay in towing and storage fees. By providing this information promptly, it ensures that you can take appropriate action to recover your vehicle if needed.

It’s crucial for vehicle owners to understand their rights and have access to all necessary information in order to protect themselves from wrongful towing situations.

Retrieval of towed vehicles and property

When your vehicle has been towed without permission, it can be a frustrating and stressful situation. However, it’s important to know that you have rights when it comes to retrieving your towed vehicle and any belongings that may have been inside. Here are some important facts to keep in mind:

  1. The towing company is required by law to provide written notice within 48 hours of towing your vehicle.
  2. This notice must include information about where your vehicle is being stored, the reason for the tow, the amount of fees you need to pay for towing and storage, and the process for getting your vehicle back.
  3. If you believe that the tow was wrongful or violated the law, you have the right to file a small claims court lawsuit to seek damages.
  4. It’s important to act quickly in retrieving your vehicle as there may be daily storage fees that accumulate if it remains unclaimed.
  5. Make sure to bring proper identification and proof of ownership, such as registration documents or title papers when going to retrieve your vehicle.
  6. If you discover any damage to your vehicle or missing belongings after retrieving it from the towing company’s storage lot, document these issues immediately and inform both the towing company and your insurance provider.

Dealing with damages during towing or storage

If your car is towed without permission, understanding how to address potential damages during the towing or storage process is essential. Towing companies are accountable for safeguarding your vehicle and ensuring no harm happens during its transportation.

However, accidents can happen, and sometimes there may be scratches, dents or other types of damage to your car.

If you discover any damages after retrieving your vehicle from the impound lot, it’s essential to document them immediately. Take clear photos of all the visible damage and make sure to note the date and time when they were taken.

You should also notify the towing company about the damages as soon as possible.

In some cases, you may need to file a claim with either your insurance company or directly with the towing company for reimbursement for the repair costs. It’s important to keep records of all communication with both parties regarding the damages and any expenses incurred.

How to Avoid Having Your Car Towed Without Warning

To avoid having your car towed without warning, familiarize yourself with parking regulations and restrictions in the areas you frequently visit.

Understanding parking regulations and restrictions

I want to talk about parking regulations and restrictions because it’s important for vehicle owners to be aware of these rules. Here are some things to understand:

  1. You need to follow the parking rules in your area. These rules might include no parking in certain areas, time limits for parking, or permits required for overnight parking.
  2. Pay attention to signs and markings on the road or in parking lots. They will indicate where you can park and any restrictions that apply.
  3. Be aware of designated “tow – away zones.” These are areas where vehicles may be towed without warning if they are parked illegally or in violation of the posted rules.
  4. Private property owners have the right to enforce their own parking regulations. If you park on someone’s private property without permission, they can legally have your car towed.
  5. Always check for posted signs indicating that towing is possible on private property. Make sure you understand and abide by the rules specific to that location.

Properly maintaining and operating your vehicle

Taking care of your vehicle is essential to avoid unexpected issues that could lead to it being towed without warning. Regularly inspect and maintain your car, checking things like the tires, brakes, lights, and fluids.

Keep up with routine maintenance tasks like changing the oil and filters. Make sure you are familiar with your vehicle’s owner manual for any specific maintenance recommendations. Additionally, ensure that you are following all traffic laws and parking regulations to prevent any violations that may result in your car being towed unlawfully.

By taking these steps, you can help minimize the chances of your vehicle being towed without permission.

Communication with property owners and towing companies

To avoid having your car towed without warning, it is important to communicate with property owners and towing companies. If you are parking on private property, make sure to read any posted signs about parking regulations.

If there is a number listed for the towing company, consider calling them to ask about their towing policies and procedures. Likewise, if you need to contact the property owner regarding parking permissions or concerns, reach out to them directly.

Open communication can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure that everyone is aware of the rules and expectations when it comes to parking on private property. Remember that knowing your rights and being proactive in communication can go a long way in avoiding unexpected towings.

Seeking Legal Assistance and Knowing Your Rights

If you believe your vehicle was wrongfully towed, it is important to seek legal assistance and understand your rights. Don’t hesitate to take action and protect your interests.

When to consider hiring an attorney

If you believe that your car was wrongfully towed without notice or if you think the towing company violated any laws during the process, it may be a good idea to consult with an attorney.

They can help you understand your rights and guide you through the legal process. An attorney can help determine if any violations occurred, assess potential damages, and assist with filing a lawsuit if necessary.

Remember, each state may have different towing laws, so it’s important to find a lawyer who is familiar with the regulations in your area.

State-specific towing laws and regulations

Despite the fact that towing laws can vary from state to state, understanding these laws can protect you from unlawful towing and help you stay within legal limits. Below is a table that outlines some of the state-specific towing laws for California:

California Towing Laws
Private property owners can legally tow a vehicle without permission if it’s parked illegally or violating parking regulations.
A visible sign, at least 17″x22″ in size with 1″ letters, indicating that parking is prohibited and vehicles may be towed must be posted on the property.
Before a vehicle can be towed, the property owner is required to provide written authorization to the towing company.
If the property owner fails to notify the towing company within 60 minutes, the towing company could be charged with a misdemeanor.
Towing companies have 48 hours to provide written notice to the vehicle’s registered owner after towing it.
The notice from the towing company must include information about where the vehicle is being stored, the reason for the tow, the amount of towing and storage fees, and the process for recovering the vehicle.
If a vehicle owner believes the tow was wrongful or unlawful, they can file a small claims court lawsuit to recover damages.
Towing from an apartment complex has specific laws and regulations. It’s advisable to consult local ordinances and lease agreements.
In California, it’s illegal for a landlord to tow a tenant’s vehicle without giving notice.

As a car owner, knowing these rules and regulations can save you from potential headaches and financial penalties. Make sure to always familiarize yourself with local laws and your rights as a vehicle owner.

Steps to take if you believe your vehicle was wrongfully towed

If you think your car was towed without a good reason, here are some steps you can take:

  1. Stay calm and assess the situation: Take note of where your car was parked and any signs or parking regulations in the area.
  2. Gather evidence: Take pictures of the area, including any signs or lack thereof that indicate towing is allowed. Also, document any damages to your car caused during towing.
  3. Contact the towing company: Get their contact information from the notice they are required to send you within 48 hours. Ask for details about why your vehicle was towed and how much it will cost to retrieve it.
  4. Review the towing laws: Familiarize yourself with California’s towing laws and regulations to determine if your vehicle was wrongfully towed.
  5. Seek legal advice if you suspect rights violation or an illegal tow; consult a towing laws specialist.
  6. File a complaint: You can file a complaint with local law enforcement or regulatory agencies if you feel the tow was unjustified or against the law.


In conclusion, it’s important for vehicle owners to understand their rights when it comes to towing in California. Private property owners can tow vehicles without permission in certain situations but must adhere to defined rules and give appropriate notice.

Towing companies also have responsibilities, such as notifying the registered owner of the vehicle within 48 hours. If you believe your car was wrongfully towed, you have the right to take legal action and seek damages.

To prevent issues, familiarize yourself with parking rules, maintain your vehicle, and communicate with property owners and tow companies if needed.


1. What are the vehicle towing laws in California?

Vehicle towing laws in California protect car owners from unauthorized car towing and wrongful towing.

2. Can my landlord tow my car without giving me a notice?

In California, landlords must give notice before they can legally tow your car from private property.

3. I think my car was wrongfully towed, what should I do?

You have rights as a car owner for fighting towing charges in California if you believe your car was wrongfully towed.

4. How long do I have to claim my car that has been impounded?

California law lets you claim your impounded vehicle within 72 hours after it’s been taken away by officials or a towing company.

5. Do private property owners need to meet any legal requirements before they can order a vehicle to be removed or towed away?

Yes, private property owners must follow specific regulations stated by the California Towing Statutes to make sure all removals are legal and fair.

6: Is it illegal for someone else to get my vehicle moved without asking me first?

If someone has your parked vehicle moved off of their land because it is not supposed to be there — this could break Illegal parking and Car Towing Laws; however each case may have different rules based on what actually happened.