In the state of Mississippi, the maximum distance allowed when towing a vehicle is 15 feet from one vehicle to the other. The exception is when the connection between any two vehicles transporting poles, pipe, machinery or other objects of a structural nature cannot readily be dismembered.
Mississippi Code Section 63-5-25 states that a trailer towed on a public highway at a speed above 20 mph must be coupled to the towing vehicle with a safety chain, chains, cables or equivalent devices in addition to the regular trailer hitch or coupling. When one vehicle is towing another, and the connection consists of a chain, rope or cable, the connection must display a white flag or cloth no less than 12 inches square.
Double and Triple Towing
Double towing and triple towing are synonyms. The practice, also called “double hauling,” refers to the act of pulling two trailers behind the vehicle being driven, such as a tow truck pulling an RV attached to a boat.
In Mississippi, towing laws provide that no more than three vehicles in combination may be towed by saddle-mounts, placing the front wheels of the drawn vehicle upon the bed of the drawing vehicle. The overall length of the towing and towed vehicles must not exceed 75 feet.
Tow Truck Companies Retain Possession
A tow truck company can retain possession of a motor vehicle until towing and reasonable storage charges are paid for a motor vehicle that was:
- Towed at the owner’s request.
- Towed at the direction of a law enforcement officer.
- Towed upon request of a real property owner upon whose property a vehicle was left without the property owner’s permission for over five days.
Under Mississippi state law, a towing company may sell a motor vehicle to compensate the company for towing, reasonable storage and necessary expenses. It may not sell a motor vehicle to cover repair costs. The towing company must notify local law enforcement of any vehicle towed within 24 hours of towing, unless the vehicle was towed at the request of the owner.
Towing companies’ fees for towing and storage vary by county. A vehicle owner who thinks the fees are excessive can report the towing company to the Better Business Bureau or file a civil lawsuit.
Locating a Vehicle's Owner
If the owner of a towed vehicle does not contact the towing company within five days of the initial tow, the towing company should get the names and address of any owner and lien holder from the Mississippi State Tax Commission or another appropriate authority. If the information is not available from these sources, the towing company is required to make a good faith effort to locate the owner.
The towing company must then notify the owner and lien holder within 10 days following the initial tow. Information obtained from an entity other than the Mississippi State Tax Commission may not be complete. If this agency determines that all required notifications were not made, it will not issue a new title.
Sale of Vehicle for Unpaid Towing and Impound Charges
If the amount due for towing and reasonable storage is not paid within 30 days from the initial tow, the tow company must notify the owner and lien holder by certified mail that the vehicle will be sold if these charges are not paid. The sale must take place at least 10 days after the mailing of the certified letter.
The towing company must publish a notice of sale in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for two consecutive weeks in the county where the motor vehicle was towed prior to the public auction. The publication may begin any time after the certified letter is mailed. It must end prior to the public auction.
Claiming Vehicle by Owner or Lienholder
A person proving ownership or any lien holder may claim the vehicle at any time before the sale by paying vehicle towing fees, reasonable storage and other reasonable expenses incurred to proceed with the sale. The proceeds of the sale in excess of the amount to pay towing, reasonable storage and necessary expenses shall be held by the towing company for six months.
If the money is not claimed by the owner, the money becomes the property of the county and is paid to the chancery clerk, subject to any rights of the recorded lien holder.
Abandoned Motor Vehicles
Mississippi defines an abandoned motor vehicle as one left unattended on a public street, road, highway or other public property for at least five days, or which has been lawfully towed to a property owned by someone other than the vehicle owner at the written request of a law enforcement officer and left there at least 40 days without anyone claiming the vehicle.
A person intending to take title and possession of an abandoned motor vehicle should treat the situation as similar to one in which they want to sell the abandoned vehicle.
When a party in possession of an abandoned motor vehicle wants to sell it, they must notify the owner and any lien holder by certified mail within 10 days unless a claim on the vehicle is made within 30 days or before the scheduled sale, whichever is later. The 10 days begin to run when the vehicle actually qualifies as an abandoned vehicle.
Claiming Vehicle Where Owner Unreachable
If the letter is returned undelivered, the vehicle is not titled in Mississippi, or it is impossible to determine with reasonable certainty the identity and addresses of all the lien holders, the person wishing to claim possession may notify others about the sale through a publication once a week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the motor vehicle was abandoned.
Notice and Public Auction Rules
A known owner or lien holder must be sent notice by certified mail. The notice must include the date, time and location of the sale, as well as the name and contact information of the person in possession of the abandoned vehicle. The notice should include the amount of charges to claim the vehicle.
The sale must be by public auction. The proceeds of the sale in excess of repair, towing and storage expenses, as well as all expenses incurred in connection with a sale, go to the county. They must be paid to the chancery clerk to be placed in the general fund of the county in which the vehicle is abandoned.
Disposition of Vehicles With No Market Value
If the abandoned vehicle has no market value, it may be disposed of after receiving two written statements from licensed automobile dealers as to the worthlessness of the vehicle. There must be proper notification to the owner and lien holders.
A person proving ownership, or any lien holder, may claim the abandoned vehicle at any time before the sale by paying towing, repair, reasonable storage and other necessary expenses.
Affidavit of Abandonment and Motor Vehicle Sold
A person in possession of an abandoned vehicle who wants to sell it must complete an affidavit of abandonment and motor vehicle sold. This document requires the person in possession of the motor vehicle to provide:
- Date the vehicle was abandoned.
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the vehicle.
- Year and make of the vehicle
- Storage fee per day and number of days the vehicle was stored.
- Cost of labor for work on the vehicle.
- Cost of parts to complete work on the vehicle.
- Name of the buyer.
- Address of the buyer.
- Date of sale to the buyer.
- Amount paid to the chancery clerk.
- Mileage on the vehicle.
The form must be signed by the buyer and seller, and also notarized.
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.