Sunday, June 22, 2008
Florida Towing Statute (Revealed And Ripped)
Continuing my ambitious project to put the towing statutes for all fifty states on this website, along with my critiques, here is the statute for Florida with my critiques at the bottom...
Quoting Florida Statutes, Property, Section 715.07 Vehicles or vessels parked on private property; towing
(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) "Vehicle" means any mobile item which normally uses wheels, whether motorized or not.
(b) "Vessel" means every description of watercraft, barge, and airboat used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water, other than a seaplane or a "documented vessel" as defined in s. 327.02(8).
(2) The owner or lessee of real property, or any person authorized by the owner or lessee, which person may be the designated representative of the condominium association if the real property is a condominium, may cause any vehicle or vessel parked on such property without her or his permission to be removed by a person regularly engaged in the business of towing vehicles or vessels, without liability for the costs of removal, transportation, or storage or damages caused by such removal, transportation, or storage, under any of the following circumstances:
(a) The towing or removal of any vehicle or vessel from private property without the consent of the registered owner or other legally authorized person in control of that vehicle or vessel is subject to strict compliance with the following conditions and restrictions:
1.a. Any towed or removed vehicle or vessel must be stored at a site within a 10-mile radius of the point of removal in any county of 500,000 population or more, and within a 15-mile radius of the point of removal in any county of less than 500,000 population. That site must be open for the purpose of redemption of vehicles on any day that the person or firm towing such vehicle or vessel is open for towing purposes, from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and, when closed, shall have prominently posted a sign indicating a telephone number where the operator of the site can be reached at all times. Upon receipt of a telephoned request to open the site to redeem a vehicle or vessel, the operator shall return to the site within 1 hour or she or he will be in violation of this section.
b. If no towing business providing such service is located within the area of towing limitations set forth in sub-subparagraph a., the following limitations apply: any towed or removed vehicle or vessel must be stored at a site within a 20-mile radius of the point of removal in any county of 500,000 population or more, and within a 30-mile radius of the point of removal in any county of less than 500,000 population.
2. The person or firm towing or removing the vehicle or vessel shall, within 30 minutes after completion of such towing or removal, notify the municipal police department or, in an unincorporated area, the sheriff, of such towing or removal, the storage site, the time the vehicle or vessel was towed or removed, and the make, model, color, and license plate number of the vehicle or description and registration number of the vessel and shall obtain the name of the person at that department to whom such information was reported and note that name on the trip record.
3. A person in the process of towing or removing a vehicle or vessel from the premises or parking lot in which the vehicle or vessel is not lawfully parked must stop when a person seeks the return of the vehicle or vessel. The vehicle or vessel must be returned upon the payment of a reasonable service fee of not more than one-half of the posted rate for the towing or removal service as provided in subparagraph 6. The vehicle or vessel may be towed or removed if, after a reasonable opportunity, the owner or legally authorized person in control of the vehicle or vessel is unable to pay the service fee. If the vehicle or vessel is redeemed, a detailed signed receipt must be given to the person redeeming the vehicle or vessel.
4. A person may not pay or accept money or other valuable consideration for the privilege of towing or removing vehicles or vessels from a particular location.
5. Except for property appurtenant to and obviously a part of a single-family residence, and except for instances when notice is personally given to the owner or other legally authorized person in control of the vehicle or vessel that the area in which that vehicle or vessel is parked is reserved or otherwise unavailable for unauthorized vehicles or vessels and that the vehicle or vessel is subject to being removed at the owner's or operator's expense, any property owner or lessee, or person authorized by the property owner or lessee, prior to towing or removing any vehicle or vessel from private property without the consent of the owner or other legally authorized person in control of that vehicle or vessel, must post a notice meeting the following requirements:
a. The notice must be prominently placed at each driveway access or curb cut allowing vehicular access to the property, within 5 feet from the public right-of-way line. If there are no curbs or access barriers, the signs must be posted not less than one sign for each 25 feet of lot frontage.
b. The notice must clearly indicate, in not less than 2-inch high, light-reflective letters on a contrasting background, that unauthorized vehicles will be towed away at the owner's expense. The words "tow-away zone" must be included on the sign in not less than 4-inch high letters.
c. The notice must also provide the name and current telephone number of the person or firm towing or removing the vehicles or vessels.
d. The sign structure containing the required notices must be permanently installed with the words "tow-away zone" not less than 3 feet and not more than 6 feet above ground level and must be continuously maintained on the property for not less than 24 hours prior to the towing or removal of any vehicles or vessels.
e. The local government may require permitting and inspection of these signs prior to any towing or removal of vehicles or vessels being authorized.
My critiques: First of all, I bet the geographic restrictions on where a vehicle can be towed are constantly bent, and citizens should not assume, but double check. Quite a messy, ugly situation could materialize when a county of less than 500,000 suddenly breaks the 500k mark, but you can bet the impound lots won't suddenly move. (Note there is an exception to the rule within the statute, as well)
The requirement about when to keep the site open, the posting of the phone number, the requirement to return in an hour...all these things could give citizens an opportunity to fight, but they'd probably have to document everything with a video camera or it would be one of those "he said, she said" things if the time came to present evidence.
"Reasonable opportunity" to redeem the vehicle is not defined in the statute, so one wonders if it might be defined by case law. My experience in Minnesota tells me the case law can be pretty sparse when it comes to towing.
Note there are NO KICKBACKS ALLOWED. Oh, gee, I wonder how many different ways THAT law gets violated every single day.
Note that the signage requirements are VERY PARTICULAR, and there is certainly an opportunity to fight a tow based on those requirements if--once again--one can document the situation and avoid "he said, she said."