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2004 Florida Statutes
Vehicles parked on private property; towing.
715.07 Vehicles parked on private property; towing.--
(1) As used in this section, the term "vehicle" means any mobile item which normally uses wheels, whether motorized or not.
(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 parked on such property without her or his permission to be removed by a person regularly engaged in the business of towing vehicles, 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 from private property without the consent of the registered owner or other legally authorized person in control of that vehicle is subject to strict compliance with the following conditions and restrictions:
1.a. Any towed or removed vehicle must be stored at a site within 10 miles of the point of removal in any county of 500,000 population or more, and within 15 miles 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 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, 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 must be stored at a site within 20 miles of the point of removal in any county of 500,000 population or more, and within 30 miles of the point of removal in any county of less than 500,000 population.
2. The person or firm towing or removing the vehicle shall, within 30 minutes of 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 was towed or removed, and the make, model, color, and license plate number of the vehicle 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. If the registered owner or other legally authorized person in control of the vehicle arrives at the scene prior to removal or towing of the vehicle, the vehicle shall be disconnected from the towing or removal apparatus, and that person shall be allowed to remove the vehicle without interference upon the payment of a reasonable service fee of not more than one-half of the posted rate for such towing service as provided in subparagraph 6., for which a receipt shall be given, unless that person refuses to remove the vehicle which is otherwise unlawfully parked.
4. The rebate or payment of money or any other valuable consideration from the individual or firm towing or removing vehicles to the owners or operators of the premises from which the vehicles are towed or removed, for the privilege of removing or towing those vehicles, is prohibited.
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 that the area in which that vehicle is parked is reserved or otherwise unavailable for unauthorized vehicles and 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 from private property without the consent of the owner or other legally authorized person in control of that vehicle, 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, if the property owner, lessee, or person in control of the property has a written contract with the towing company.
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.
e. The local government may require permitting and inspection of these signs prior to any towing or removal of vehicles being authorized.
f. A business with 20 or fewer parking spaces satisfies the notice requirements of this subparagraph by prominently displaying a sign stating "Reserved Parking for Customers Only Unauthorized Vehicles Will be Towed Away At the Owner's Expense" in not less than 4-inch high, light-reflective letters on a contrasting background.
A business owner or lessee may authorize the removal of a vehicle by a towing company when the vehicle is parked in such a manner that restricts the normal operation of business; and if a vehicle parked on a public right-of-way obstructs access to a private driveway the owner, lessee, or agent may have the vehicle removed by a towing company upon signing an order that the vehicle be removed without a posted tow-away zone sign.
6. Any person or firm that tows or removes vehicles and proposes to require an owner, operator, or person in control of a vehicle to pay the costs of towing and storage prior to redemption of the vehicle must file and keep on record with the local law enforcement agency a complete copy of the current rates to be charged for such services and post at the storage site an identical rate schedule and any written contracts with property owners, lessees, or persons in control of property which authorize such person or firm to remove vehicles as provided in this section.
7. Any person or firm towing or removing any vehicles from private property without the consent of the owner or other legally authorized person in control of the vehicles shall, on any trucks, wreckers as defined in s. 713.78(1)(c), or other vehicles used in the towing or removal, have the name, address, and telephone number of the company performing such service clearly printed in contrasting colors on the driver and passenger sides of the vehicle. The name shall be in at least 3-inch permanently affixed letters, and the address and telephone number shall be in at least 1-inch permanently affixed letters.
8. Vehicle entry for the purpose of removing the vehicle shall be allowed with reasonable care on the part of the person or firm towing the vehicle. Such person or firm shall be liable for any damage occasioned to the vehicle if such entry is not in accordance with the standard of reasonable care.
9. When a vehicle has been towed or removed pursuant to this section, it must be released to its owner or custodian within one hour after requested. Any vehicle owner, custodian, or agent shall have the right to inspect the vehicle before accepting its return, and no release or waiver of any kind which would release the person or firm towing the vehicle from liability for damages noted by the owner or other legally authorized person at the time of the redemption may be required from any vehicle owner, custodian, or agent as a condition of release of the vehicle to its owner. A detailed, signed receipt showing the legal name of the company or person towing or removing the vehicle must be given to the person paying towing or storage charges at the time of payment, whether requested or not.
(b) These requirements shall be the minimum standards and shall not preclude enactment of additional regulations by any municipality or county including the right to regulate rates when vehicles are towed from private property.
(3) This section does not apply to law enforcement, firefighting, rescue squad, ambulance, or other emergency vehicles which are marked as such or to property owned by any governmental entity.
(4) When a person improperly causes a vehicle to be removed, such person shall be liable to the owner or lessee of the vehicle for the cost of removal, transportation, and storage; any damages resulting from the removal, transportation, or storage of the vehicle; attorneys' fees; and court costs.
(5)(a) Any person who violates the provisions of subparagraph (2)(a)2. or subparagraph (2)(a)6. is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083
(b) Any person who violates the provisions of subparagraph (2)(a)7. is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084
History.--s. 1, ch. 76-83; s. 221, ch. 77-104; s. 2, ch. 79-206; s. 2, ch. 79-271; s. 2, ch. 79-410; s. 1, ch. 83-330; s. 51, ch. 87-198; s. 3, ch. 88-240; s. 9, ch. 90-283; s. 839, ch. 97-102; s. 18, ch. 2001-64.