City proposes stricter towing rules

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Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard on Tuesday announced details of a proposed city ordinance intended to crack down on “predatory” towing practices in the city.

City-County Council President Ryan Vaughn, who helped draft the ordinance, plans to introduce it at the Council’s June 6 meeting.
The proposal comes on the heels of numerous complaints from people who say they've been taken advantage of by opportunistic towing companies.

“I have been working with business groups, tow truck operators and concerned citizens for months on this issue and it seems reasonable the city outline basic minimum standards for any company that tows vehicles in our city without the vehicle owner’s consent,” Vaughn said in a prepared statement.

The proposal includes the following protections:

— Towing fees for passenger vehicles are capped at $150 and storage fees are capped at $30 per day.

— Detailed receipts listing all charges must be provided by the towing operator.

— Payments or kickbacks from towing operators to property owners or lot managers for each vehicle towed are prohibited.
— Signs listing lot hours and vehicle-redemption information must be approved by the city.

— Vehicles must be towed directly to a secure storage lot inside Marion County or within 10 miles of the pick-up point.
— Motorists must be able to claim their vehicle 24 hours per day, seven days a week.

— Towing operators and their storage lots must accept cash or credit cards.

— A representative of the property owner must sign a tow order for each vehicle prior to towing.

The proposal requires the Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement to license all operators who perform non-consensual towing in Indianapolis or contract with the city for towing services.

The licensing procedure will require proof of insurance to protect motorists in the event of vehicle damage, criminal background checks of all tow-truck operators and secure storage lots.

Tow trucks operated by service stations, for instance, that only tow vehicles with the owner’s approval would not be affected by the ordinance.


  • A step in the right direction...
    I definitely think this is a step in the right direction. My car was towed from a major sandwich shop in Broad Ripple a couple of months ago. The shop posted 1 sign on their somewhat inconspicuous dumpster notifying of the possibility of being towed. So, in that case, this was my fault.

    However, when I came out of the restaurant (right next door), to find my car gone, a member of the neighborhood committee was there to tell me how the sandwich shop does this all the time. Evidently, there used to be signs all over the parking lot, but once the tow truck drivers began offering sandwich shop employees $50 per tow, the signs came down pretty quickly. Now, the neighbors take turns posting their own signs and hanging around the area to let people know.

    In this case, I was lucky that the company only charged me $250 to pick up my car. But I had to drive to 116th & Rangeline (from Broad Ripple, mind you) to pick it up, and had a 30 minute time frame to get there in order to get the car back that night. So I definitely feel the majority of protections the City is proposing are both fair and the right thing to do. I'm not sure how well a few could be enforced, but I do applaud them for their efforts (even if it took several media spots to get them going).
  • Outrageous
    A $150 towing fee is absolutely outrageous. This is essentially a legalized carnapping racket.
  • Still steep but better!
    $150 will still offer incentive to profit. AND how can they enforce no kickbacks. I still feel that the city has looked the other way, for years - probably a money talks kind of deal, too.

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