2023 Summary of important statutes for the towing industry in California
Disclaimer: Not legal advice; this is only general information.
22851 Vehicle Code. Lien on stored vehicle. Vehicle stored per 3068.1 Civil Code (towing liens). $4,000 or less: maximum 60 days storage. OVER $4,000: maximum 120 days if lien application filed within 30 days.
3068 Civil Code. Applies to mechanic’s liens.
3068.1 Civil Code. Applies to towing liens. ($4,000 or less) printout must be requested by the 15th day for storage to continue. 120 days maximum if opposition filed, out-of-state vehicle, vin # altered, or an interested party becomes known after lien mailed (a new lien must be started). ONE day storage during the first 24-hour period. After 24 hours, storage is calculated on a calendar basis.
3068.2 Civil Code. Deficiency claim. Towing company has a claim against registered owner for total towing, storage and lien fees, less the amount received from the sale of the vehicle. Transferred owner responsible if they received a Notice of Transfer and are responsible for abandoning vehicle.
3074 Civil Code. Lien-sale Preparation Costs: Recovery. No charge before 72 hours of storage. $4,000 or less: $35.00 maximum when DMV vehicle record requested. $70.00 maximum when lien agent has mailed lien documents. OVER $4,000: $50.00 maximum when DMV vehicle record requested. $100 maximum when lien agent has mailed lien documents (at least two months later when DMV authorizes the lien to be mailed).
10652.5 Vehicle Code. Notice to LEGAL owner. Storage to the LEGAL owner does not continue past 15th day unless certified notice sent to LEGAL owner by day 13. For mailing after day 13, storage to the LEGAL owner resumes three days after certified notice sent. Cost can be added to bill, but no sooner than 72 hours from initial storage.
14602.6 (d)(f)(2)(A), 14602.7 (e)(2)(A) & 23118 (e)(2)(A) Vehicle Code. 30 day holds, fleeing an officer, speed contest, and vehicles used by unlicensed repo agents. If LEGAL owner repossesses vehicle, LEGAL owner does not have to pay any lien fee within 15 days.
14602.8 (f)(2)(A) Vehicle Code. DUI (5 and 15 day impounds). If LEGAL owner repossesses vehicle, LEGAL owner does not have to pay any lien fee within 10 days.
22524.5 Vehicle Code. Insurance company responsibility to towing company. For accident or stolen recovery vehicles that have a covered policy, insurer is responsible to towing company for their charges. Insured or claimant responsible if paid directly by insurance company.
24007.5 Vehicle Code. Smog certificate on lien vehicles. Buyer is responsible for the smog certificate as long as buyer signs an agreement of responsibility and towing company files a Notice of Transfer.
22669 Vehicle Code (or local abatement code). Abandoned vehicles. To receive a REG. 462 (junk slip) from law enforcement, vehicle must be towed under this code (or local abatement code) and be valued at $500 or less (or have no vin#).
10650 Vehicle Code. Written record of stored vehicles. Any vehicle stored over 12 hours must have a written record available for inspection by law enforcement. Vehicle Storage Log: Tow Log
22850.3 Vehicle Code. Towing company is required to post a notice stating that for law enforcement impounds that are out of registration, proof of current registration must be presented to law enforcement before release. Notice must list the names and telephone numbers of all law enforcement agencies.
22651.07 Vehicle Code. Towing Fees and Access Notice. Towing company is required to post this notice and present an itemized statement of charges upon releasing a stored vehicle. This notice must be furnished upon request.