Towing process policies and procedures

Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners has standards of service and consumer protection requirements regarding towing and wrecker companies in Hillsborough County.

Towing process - policies and procedures

Towing companies must follow proper policies and procedures before, during, and after the towing process.

Before the tow

Towing companies MUST follow these rules before the towing process begins:

  • Maintain business certificates, licenses, and permits, as per County ordinance
  • Have specific authorization from the property owner to tow your car via a signed authorization (this is known as a trespass tow)
  • Maintain signs with specific language, and in specific locations, as per County ordinance
  • Allow a vehicle owner to immediately remove personal property from their vehicle, at the scene of the tow or at the storage facility, during normal business hours regardless of whether payment has been made; additional fees may apply during non-business hours only

During the tow

Towing companies MUST follow these rules during the towing process:

  • Never tow a vehicle while a person or animal is occupying the vehicle
  • Release a vehicle to the owner or legally authorized person in control of the vehicle upon request, even if the vehicle is connected to a tow truck, and upon payment of a drop fee. The maximum allowable drop fee is half of the towing rate.
  • Store any vehicle that is trespass towed within a ten-mile radius from the point of removal

After the tow

Towing companies MUST follow these rules once the towing process is completed:

  • Notify law enforcement within 30 minutes of arrival to their storage facility
  • Monitor and answer telephones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays; they must return a vehicle or vessel owner’s call within one hour
  • Provide consumers with information on every document needed to retrieve the vehicle
  • Provide the exact tow charges at the time of the call plus any additional charges that may accrue
  • Provide the location to pay the fees to pick up the vehicle
  • Charge only a certain amount as per BOCC Resolution; all rates and associated fees must be prominently posted and clearly legible at the point of payment at the storage site
  • Provide a written bill before payment is processed that details the charges to date and any potential storage charges
  • Provide a legible, written receipt with charges when payment is complete
  • Allow several methods of payment – cash, money order, cashier’s check, credit or debit card
  • Allow the vehicle to be retrieved within one hour of the request
  • Allow a vehicle owner the right to inspect the vehicle before accepting its return. No release or waiver of any kind releasing liability may be required of a vehicle owner in order to receive a vehicle.
  • Send a notice via certified mail to the registered owner, the insurance company insuring the vehicle, and anyone claiming a lien against the vehicle’s title within seven (7) business days after the date of storage

NOTE: If the vehicle owner believes the vehicle or vessel was wrongfully towed and/or has been overcharged for services rendered, they do not have to pay your bill to get the vehicle or vessel back right away. They can post a bond in the circuit court, payment to [name of towing service], in the amount of the final bill for services rendered, and the court will decide later who is right.

Things to Know Before You Trespass Tow

Regulatory compliance

Under the County’s ordinance, Code Enforcement Regulatory Compliance performs the following functions:

  • Receives and reviews all complaints of ordinance violations
  • The department may request additional information from the complainant for purposes of processing the complaint
  • Evaluates and investigates complaints received and takes action(s) deemed appropriate as provided for by the ordinance
  • The department may request additional information from the complainant for purposes of processing the complaint and/or investigate potential violations regardless of the absence of a written or verbal complaint
  • Makes periodic physical inspections of tow trucks to ascertain compliance with the provisions of the ordinance
  • Inspects the records of certificate holders and/or owners of tow trucks at their respective place of business during regular business hours
  • Enforces provisions of the ordinance
  • Provides written notice, with proof of delivery, of the suspension or revocation of certificates, permits, and public vehicle driver’s licenses, specifying the grounds for the suspension or revocation
  • Issues citations for violations of the ordinance

Regulatory Compliance does not give legal advice and cannot take legal action on behalf of the complainant. Any alleged violation reported to the county will result in an investigation with all records including the complaint representing a public record.

Vehicle license requirements

There are a number of specific requirements for licenses and the Hillsborough County Tax Collector is responsible for receiving, reviewing, and approving applications for business certificates, public vehicle driver’s licenses (PVDL), and vehicle permits. Questions or concerns about the licensing process can be addressed with the Tax Collector by calling (813) 635-5200.


The majority of complaints received about towing companies involve vehicles that were towed from private property without the vehicle owner’s consent (also known as a trespass tow).

  • The Florida Legislature repealed the state law regulating towing and wrecker companies in Hillsborough County. The Public Transportation Commission (PTC), which previously regulated these companies, is now closed. 

Ordinances and resolutions


For more information about companies offering towing and wrecking services, email or call (813) 272-7400 ext 36004.

Last Modified: 3/14/2024, 12:51:02 PM

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