Car Safety: Towing


Use Only Licensed Tow Companies.

Check with the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) to make sure a tower is licensed. Call (212) 487-4075. Before you allow a private tow truck to hook your car, look for the DCA license medallion - a small red plate on the driver's side rear fender. Also, check the side of the truck. Licensed trucks list the company's name, address and phone number; the legal tow rates; the DCA license number; and the DCA complaint phone number. Make sure you keep a record of the towers DCA license number.

You May Choose Your Own Repair Shop.

You have the right to have your car repaired by anyone you choose. If you don't want the tower to fix your car, clearly tell the tower not to repair it and don't sign an "Authorization to Repair Form."

Check Your Car Carefully Before It's Towed.

Take out all valuables, including those in the trunk and glove compartment. Note any damage to your car.

Get a Clearly Itemized Bill.

You will need it if you want to challenge any charges. Also, your insurance company may require it.

You May Use Your Credit Card.

It's the law. Towers are required to accept credit card payments for towing services.

If You Are in an Accident.

You must use a DCA licensed tower called by the police or a tower specially authorized to tow in the zone where you've had the accident. Don't let a tower take your car unless a police officer directs you to do so. It's illegal for tow trucks to chase business by racing to accidents. The tower must bring your car to its storage facility or a place of your choice in a nearby area. A tower that you select can take your car from there.

New York City Tow Rates ( Effective March 11, 2002 )

Consumer Affairs enforces maximum legal rates that private tow companies can charge for towing and storage.

D.A.R.P. (Collision)

The rates charged for towing and storage cannot exceed those listed below for vehicles weighing 10,000 lbs or less.

TOW: $80.00 (For vehicles under 10,000 lbs, includes flatbed towing & the first day of storage. Does not include tolls and 8.25% tax.)

TOW: $125.00 (For vehicles in excess of 10,000 lbs, includes flatbed towing & the first day of storage. Does not include tolls and 8.25% tax.)

MILEAGE: $4.00 per mile.

LABOR AT SCENE: $12.00 per 1/4 hour per truck.

STORAGE: $15.00 per day for the 2nd and 3rd day.

$17.00 per day from day 4 and every day thereafter (storage days are counted by calendar days).

ROTOW: Called "Rotation Towing" (Recovery of Theft and Abandoned Vehicles.)

TOW: $70.00 (For vehicles under 10,000 lbs, includes flatbed towing. Does not include tolls and 8.25% tax.)

TOW: $125.00 (For vehicles in excess of 10,000 lbs, includes flatbed towing. Does not include tolls and 8.25% tax.)

ADDITIONAL TOW: $50.00 additional (police must authorize).


STORAGE: $15.00 per day from day 1 to day 3.

$17.00 per day from day 4 and every day thereafter, not to exceed 30 days. Vehicle should be transferred to the pound.

Where unusual preparation is required before a vehicle can be towed, an additional charge may be imposed not to exceed $12.00 per tow truck for each 1/4 hour or part thereof, provided that no such charge may be imposed or collected if an accident vehicle is towed pursuant to the Direct Accident Response Program. This includes winching or righting a vehicle in a position where it can be hooked or raised to the tow truck. (As per Subd.F1 of Sec.2-368 of Subchapter EE of Chapter 2, Title 6 of the Rules of the NYC Tow Regulations.)

No towing company or tow truck operator shall require the payment of any fee or charge for or relating to towing or storage of a vehicle or any fee or charge directly or indirectly related to towing & storage of a vehicle that has been removed pursuant to this section & is not specifically authorized by law or rule. (This refers to yard fees, clerical fees, phone calls, license fees, etc., as per Local Law #21 of 1991 and Section 20-509d of the Administrative Code.)

A towing company participating in any of the programs, which has towed a vehicle to its storage facility may charge an additional amount not to exceed $25.00 for the positioning of such vehicle for the removal from such storage facility by the tow truck of another company that is capable of towing three or more vehicles simultaneously. (Must be larger than a two-car carrier and no other service or yard fees are applicable.) Such other towing company must be licensed or otherwise exempt from the licensing provisions of Subchapter 31 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the NYC Administrative Code, or must be based outside of NYC and thereby not required to be licensed pursuant to such provisions of the NYC Administrative Code. (As per Subd.F2 of Sec.2-368 of Subchapter EE of Chapter 2, Title 6 of the Rules of the NYC Tow Regulations.)

No further storage fees may be charged after the maximum 30-day storage period. The vehicle must be transferred into the custody of the Police Department Property Clerk. A ROTOW participant may continue to store at such ROTOW participant's storage facility that has been claimed by an owner or other person and shall be entitled to charge for such continued storage the storage rates ROTOW participants are entitled to charge owners or other persons claiming such vehicles pursuant to 20-519c1 of the NYC Administrative Code where such owner or such other person has claimed such vehicle before the 30th day after such vehicle was towed and has entered into an agreement with such ROTOW participant for continued storage of such vehicle. An agreement for continued storage of a vehicle by a ROTOW participant may include provision for storage of such vehicle beyond the end of the 30th day and after such vehicle was towed by such ROTOW participant. (As per Sec.2-372B of the Rules of the City of New York.)

If Your Car Breaks Down:

Call the DCA licensed tow company of your choice.

If You Are on a Highway:

Remain with your car. Only certain companies franchised by the NYC Department of Transportation are allowed to tow from major highways. Wait for either that authorized tower or the police. Once your car is removed from the highway, you may have it towed by the company of your choice.

From a Shopping Center or Other Private Property:

Look for a posted sign indicating which tow company towed your car. If you can't find a sign, call the local police precinct.

When a Vehicle is Towed for Being Improperly Parked on Private Property up to:

$100.00 for towing any distance and three days of storage
$10.00 for each day of storage thereafter
$50.00 if the person in control of the vehicle arrives prior to the removal of the vehicle
Placing a "boot" on your car, rather than towing it, is legal on some private property. But if your car is towed, the towing company cannot charge you for both towing and booting. The City set a maximum rate for booting at $25.00.

From a Driveway That You Blocked: Call the local police precinct

From the Street for a Parking or Traffic Violation: Call the NYC Department of Transportation Bureau of Traffic at (212) TOWAWAY, that's (212) 869-2929.

NYC Department of Transportation Tow Charges

The Department of Transportation (DOT) charges different rates. Call the DOT Parking Violations Bureau Help Line at (718)422-7800 for information.

NYC Department of Consumer Affairs

(212) 487-4444 To file a complaint about a private tower.

(212) 487-4103 To learn if a tower is licensed.

Additionally, you may file a tow abuse complaint on-line at (select Consumer Complaint Form). Please note, the on-line complaint form is a generic complaint form. You must attach all supporting documentation when registering your tow abuse complaint on-line, including receipts, which you will need to scan in.

To file your complaint(s) via mail, please submit completed complaint form with all supporting documentation to:

Department of Consumer Affairs
Consumer Services Division / Complaints
42 Broadway
New York, NY 10004

When providing examples of town abuse, please:

  1. Submit one complaint (for mailed complaints, please duplicate for your use sample DCA complaint form provided herein)
  2. Circle/highlight the overcharge/abuses in each submitted example
  3. Attach a copy of bill

NYC Department of Transportation

(718) 422-7800 To file a complaint about a private tower.

NY State Department of Motor Vehicles

(518) 474-8943 To file a complaint about auto repairs.