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Don’t Tow the Line


Experts estimate that cars are parked 95% of the time. But if you park in the wrong place, you could come back to find your vehicle missing. It has been taken across town by the local towing company and now your day is ruined. Or even worse, you go to leave for work in the morning and your driveway has been blocked by someone who parked to take a jog around your neighborhood. This is when you ask yourself, who has the authority to tow in Texas? When, where, and why might a vehicle be towed and removed?

First of all, according to Section 2308.252 of the Texas Occupations Code, an unauthorized vehicle can be removed from a parking facility at the vehicle owner’s expense as long as that facility had proper signage up for the preceding 24 hours, and at the time of towing. The requirements for these signs can be found in Subchapter G of Ch. 2308 of the Texas Occupations Code, but most importantly the signs must bear the words, “Unauthorized Vehicles Will Be Towed at Owner’s or Operator’s Expense”. If someone parks there and is towed, what did they think was going to happen? Seems pretty self-explanatory to me.

In terms of public roadways, Section 2308.208 of the Texas Occupations Code gives municipalities the ability to adopt an ordinance identical to the chapter regulating unauthorized vehicles and towing, along with any additional requirements they would like to include. For example, the City of Houston has an additional requirement in their parking ordinance that vehicles cannot be parked continuously in excess of 24 hours (Houston, Texas – Code of Ordinances, Sec. 26-93).

But the authority to tow a vehicle ultimately lies in the hands of the peace officers or designated employees tasked with enforcing the adopted ordinance in each municipality. Section 2308.354(a)(3) of the Texas Occupations Code allows an authorized employee, designated by the municipality, to request the removal of a vehicle that is located in an area where on-street parking is regulated by the ordinance if that vehicle is either:

  1. parked illegally; or
  2. parked legally and:
    1. has been unattended for more than 48 hours; and
    2. the employee has reasonable grounds to believe is abandoned

But what is considered illegal parking? A whole host of things as described by Section 545.302 of the Texas Transportation Code including but not limited to: on a sidewalk, in an intersection, on a crosswalk, in front of a public or private driveway, within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, on the side of the road with wheels further than 18 inches from the curb or edge of the roadway. All of these and more are reasons that a vehicle can be towed from a public roadway. So next time before you park like Ace Ventura, make sure you check for posted signs or relevant ordinances restricting parking in your area.

Please do not rely on this article as legal advice. We can tell you what the law is, but until we know the facts of your given situation, we cannot provide legal guidance. This website is for informational purposes and not for the purposes of providing legal advice. 

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