My question involves towing laws for the State of: Alabama
My car was parked at my girlfriends apartment complex where it has been many times because she's been borrowing my car on occasion because she wrecked hers. She pays rent there and they are able to park 2 cars. Since hers is gone mine was taking the place of it. THey have no assigned parking or permits and also there are no signs saying the car will be towed. A tenant called the resident mgr to have my car towed bc she didn't have a spot. The resident manager told her to just find somewhere else and the girl called and had my car towed anyways. The tow truck came and she signed as an authorized agent. It is my understanding that only a owner or resident manager can have a car towed from private property but they are also supposed to have signs. The tow company will not release my car. So what should I do? The resident manager called the tow office and told them the car shouldn't have been towed but they are refusing to release my car. I don't feel like I am responsible for paying bc I wasn't doing anything wrong. Not double parked not blocking anyone. So do I just sue the girl for having my car towed illegally or do I sue the tow company for taking my car without permission from the landlord/resident manager? Or should i just sue both
I am in Tuscaloosa County and these are the municipal codes:
(a) The owner, operator, or lessee, or authorized agent thereof, of any property, may have any vehicle occupying the property without the permission of its owner, operator, lessee, or authorized agent thereof, removed by towing to a storage facility until reclaimed by the owner or his agent provided the provisions of this chapter are complied with, as well as the following:
(1) Signs shall be posted and affixed on the property and located in prominent and conspicuous locations so as to provide clear and legible notification that vehicles parked without permission will be towed.
a. For parking areas connected to a public street, signs shall be placed prominently and conspicuously at such entrance within five (5) feet of the public right-of-way line. If more than one entrance or curb cut exists from the same street frontage, signs may be posted at the farthest distance between the street entrance or curb cut.
b. For parking areas that are connected to the public right-of-way without intervening curbs or other access barriers and directly in front of or abutting one or more buildings, signs shall be placed at both ends of the parking area and either attached to the building or posted at intervals in the parking area at a distance of fifty (50) feet or less.
c. For parking areas which do not conform nor meet the configurations described in subsections a. and b., property owners may consult with the Tuscaloosa Police Department to determine appropriate locations for signage as described herein.
d. Signs shall be posted and affixed to buildings on the property and at such locations thereon which clearly, conspicuously and legibly disclose and identify that any such vehicle parked without permission on said property will be towed.
e. The notice shall also provide the name and current telephone number of the person or firm towing or removing the vehicles, if the property owner, lessor, or person in control of the property has a written contract with a wrecker service.
f. The sign shall not exceed four (4) square feet in area and must be light reflective. The notice shall clearly indicate, in not less than two-inch-high letters on a contrasting background, that unauthorized vehicles will be towed away at the owner's expense. The words "tow away zone" shall be included on the sign in not less than four-inch-high letters.
g. The sign structure containing the required notices shall be permanently installed with the bottom of the sign not less than four (4) feet above ground level, and be continuously maintained on the property for not less than twenty-four (24) hours prior to the towing or removal of any vehicles.
h. Where parking for residential or multifamily properties are immediately adjacent to parking for commercial or retail properties where no distinguishing barriers or identification for the respective parking exists, the property owners shall take such reasonable measure to identify each such adjoining parking space as restricted parking for their tenants or clientele.
(2) The foregoing requirement for signs shall not apply on any parcel of property used at the time of removal for one single-family residence or one two-family residence; and provided further, however, that parking spaces parallel to or at an angle to a public street and entered directly from a public street shall be deemed to be providing signs properly when the signs are placed along the sidewalk (or in a similar location when there is no sidewalk) adjacent to the space or row of spaces and there is at least one of the signs required by this chapter within forty feet of each such space.
(3) The towing and recovery operator performing the tow shall comply with the following:
a. Authorization of the owner, operator, or lessee of the property from which the vehicle is towed, or the authorized agent thereof. For the purposes of this subsection, "authorized agent" shall not include a representative of the towing and recovery operator.
b. The tow operator shall receive a signed authorization from the property owner or their agent prior to the towing of the vehicle and the property owner or their agent must also be present when the vehicle is towed.
c. Prior to performing the tow, the tow operator shall contact the Tuscaloosa Police Department and inform the department of the removal of the vehicle providing the Department with the following information if visible and present on the vehicle, vehicle identification number (VIN), license plate number, decal number and year. In addition, the make, model, year, color and location from where the vehicle is towed and the location of where the vehicle is to be towed is also to be provided.
d. The towing and recovery operator, and the owner, operator, or lessee of the property, shall maintain for public inspection at its business offices, and at the property, respectively, copies of all documents which authorized the operator to tow any motor vehicle from the property.
(4) The owner, operator, lessee or authorized agent of the property shall obtain and retain the following:
a. Photographs or videos of the vehicle in the location from which the vehicle is being towed;
b. Photographs or videos of the condition of the vehicle prior to the tow; and
c. To the extent available, other documentary evidence substantiating the reason for the removal.
(5) The tow truck used to perform the tow shall include the name, street address, and telephone number of the towing and recovery operator in a conspicuous location on the exterior of the truck.
(b) This section shall not apply to public safety and public health vehicles or where a vehicle, because of a wreck or other emergency, is parked or left temporarily on the property of another.
(Ord. No. 7095, 7-17-07; Ord. No. 7120, 8-28-07)
Sec. 21-81. Notice.
(a) Immediately subsequent to a trespassing vehicle being removed or towed as permitted by this chapter [article], notice of this action shall be provided in person or by facsimile by the towing and recovery operator to the Tuscaloosa Police Department desk officer or such other officer as may be designated by the police department. Such notice shall include the following information:
(1) The name of the towing and recovery operator removing vehicle;
(2) A description of the vehicle towed including year, make, model, color and if visible and present on the vehicle the vehicle identification number (VIN), license plate number, decal number and year;
(3) The location of trespassing vehicle and the date and time of the tow;
(4) The location of the storage facility to which the vehicle was towed; and
(5) The name and address of the individual and/or entity who authorized the tow.
(b) Failure by a towing and recovery operator to report such tow as required by this section shall constitute a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100.00). Such failure to report shall limit the amount which may be charged for the storage and safekeeping of the towed vehicle to an amount no greater than that charged for one day of storage and safekeeping.