If your car is towed in Arizona they can't force you to pay $$$ to get it back.
1984 Capson vs. Superior Court (139 Ariz. 113, 677 P.2d 276)
If your car is towed from private property without your permission, the towing company cannot hold it hostage until you pay the towing charge. The company has the right not only to bill you. But you can at least get your car so you can drive to work the next day.
In 1984, the Arizona Supreme Court decided in Capson vs. Superior Court that a tow company which tows a vehicle without the owner's knowledge does not have a possessory lien on the vehicle for either towing or storage, unless a law enforcement officer ordered the tow. The Court further stated that a tower’s refusal to release a vehicle under these circumstances constitutes theft according to A.R.S. §13-1802. 1
Know your tow rights
I love learning something new. Especially when it can help people in a crisis.
Last week while sitting in a hearing at the state Legislature about a proposed towing bill, I heard something that grabbed my attention.
Tow companies can take your car, but they can't hold it hostage.
The bill is HB 2097. It's designed to reform the industry that tows cars from private property. It would create a statewide set of rules to govern tow companies, and a hearing process and fines should something go wrong. It would require the tower to release a car for no fee if the owner arrives while the car is being taken away and prohibit storage fees for the first 24 hours.
The bill passed out of committee, but it's still a long way from becoming law. Tow companies testified that while the industry needs reform, this bill goes too far.
Even if the bill doesn't make it, people who find their car has been towed are not completely at the mercy of the towing company. A 1984 Arizona Supreme Court case called Capson vs. Superior Court (139 Ariz. 113, 677 P.2d 276 for you legal eagles) clarified the rules that judges have used for years in our state.
The Capson decision showed that if your car is towed from private property without your permission, the towing company cannot hold it hostage until you pay the towing charge. That doesn't mean you don't owe the money. The company has the right not only to bill you, but to send you to a collection agency and damage your credit if you don't pay. But you can at least get your car so you can drive to work the next day.
And it doesn't mean getting your car back will be easy. The tow company is going to ask for proof that you own it. Since your registration will be locked in the glove compartment, you'll have to find something else. That probably means you'll have to go home and get the title to your car.
There are some wrinkles in this. The rules may be different if your car is towed from your own apartment complex. If the police tow your car, then city regulations apply.
But if your car gets towed after you parked in the wrong place, just remember that you have the right to get it back whether you can pay on the spot or not.
Reach Call 12 for Action 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays at 602-260-1212 or 866-260-1212.