Minnesota requires towing authorities and tow-truck operators to follow a set of restrictions and guidelines before towing any vehicle from public property. If a vehicle is towed in violation of these rules, the vehicle's owner may be entitled to damages. The law also provides guidelines for towing vehicles from private property.
Towing On Public Property
Minnesota Statute 169.041 defines the circumstances under which a vehicle can be towed when parked on public property. Before a vehicle can be towed, a law enforcement officer or parking officer must write both a parking citation and a towing report. The towing report must describe the vehicle and list the reasons for having it towed. Both the officer and tow truck driver must sign this report.
In the state Department of Transportation's metropolitan district, a freeway service patrol employee can order a vehicle to be towed from trunk highway without a citation being issued. The employee must complete a written towing report, however.
Four-Hour Waiting Period
A ticketed vehicle may not be towed from public property until a four-hour waiting period has passed, according to the state statute. However, the law provides 17 exceptions to this rule. For instance, a vehicle may be towed immediately if it is blocking a driveway, fire hydrant, bus sign, stop sign or taxi stand. Vehicles parked in an emergency or rush-hour no-parking zone also may be towed immediately. If a vehicle has been abandoned or stolen, or its driver has been arrested, no waiting period if required before towing.
Towing Not Allowed
Unless a vehicle meets one of the immediate towing exceptions, it can't be towed if its registration tabs have been expired for less than 90 days. Towing is also prohibited if the vehicle is parked at an expired meter, but the vehicle is the subject of less than five unpaid parking tickets.
If a vehicle is towed from public property in violation of state law, the owner is entitled to recover $100 or double damages, whichever is greater. Damages include lost time, the cost of transportation, and the actual cost of recovering the vehicle.
Towing From Private Property
According to Minnesota Statute 168B.04, an unauthorized vehicle parked at a single family residence, a duplex, or any posted property may be impounded immediately. A vehicle parked improperly at any nonresidential property, or property that isn't posted, may be impounded in 24 hours. A vehicle abandoned at a repair shop may be impounded five business days after a notice is sent to the owner by certified mail.
- no parking tow zone sign image by Stephen Orsillo from Fotolia.com