If you’re a tourist visiting Miami Beach, Florida for the first time, or a Miamian who doesn’t spend much time there, you may never have experienced what it is like to be towed in Miami Beach. For everyone else, getting towed in Miami Beach is an all too familiar experience.
These companies want you to believe that if you accidentally overstayed your parking, or did not see the hidden “Tow Away” signs you’re SOL. But did you know that despite what the tow truck companies tell you, you have rights?
Most States and municipalities have laws in place to regulate the illegal and predatory towing practices that towing companies are well known for. Because of this, even if you accidentally overstayed your parking, or did not see the Tow-Away signs, you may be able to get your money back.
The City of Miami Beach is no different.
Towed in Miami Beach: Your Rights
A Florida Statute, as well as City of Miami Beach ordinances regulate towing in Miami Beach. The Florida Statute sets a minimum threshold of rights, while the City of Miami Beach ordinances add an extra layer of protection to the consumer.
If you’re towed in Miami Beach you should know the following:
- If the tow truck driver is in the process of towing your car when you return to your car, the driver has to release your car for 50% of the maximum towing rate. In the City of Miami Beach the maximum towing rate for a Class “A” (most regular cars) tow is $140.00. This means that in these cases you’re entitled to get your car back for $70.00.
- Unattended private lots in the City of Miami Beach are required to have a multitude of different signs alerting you that your car will be towed. If the lot that you were towed from lacks these signs, the tow is illegal and you’re entitled to have your money back.
- If you’re towed in Miami Beach you have the right to have access to your car to retrieve your paperwork, even if you have not paid to have the car released.
- Before you can be towed from a private lot in the City of Miami Beach, the tow truck operator is required to have a written directive from the owner or authorized representative of the property owner to tow your particular car. This means that the act of patrolling a lot looking for violations is illegal. Note that this only applies during the hours of operation for the business that owns the lot.
Things to Keep in Mind
No Help From City Officials
If you’re towed in Miami Beach you should know that the city is not going to be of much help. There’s two companies in the City of Miami Beach that have a duopoly over non-consensual towing in the city. Because of this, the City parking officials are pretty much at their mercy and do not really enforce the rules against them.
But, but, the Police will certainly help me, right?!?
Unfortunately, the police will not help you. If you are towed in Miami Beach, the police will say that whether you were properly towed or not is a civil dispute. They will say this even though a lot of towing violations that happen in the City of Miami Beach are actually criminal offenses in nature. Simply put, the police believes it has better things to do than keeping the towing companies from stealing your hard-earned money and holding your car hostage.
Towing Charges Will Accrue
If you are towed in Miami Beach, you should pay to have your car returned to you as soon as possible. This is because the longer the car stays at the lot, the more money you’ll need to pay them to get it out. If the tow was an illegal tow, you’ll be able to fight it later on. There’s no reason to leave the car in the tow lot.
Tow Companies Will Charge for Services Not Rendered
Tow truck companies will try to charge you for things that they are not allowed to. They do this because they know that most people feel that they are in a hopeless situation and have no real remedy. They also do this because they know that some of these charges are hard to disprove.
Although every now and then this happens on video: https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/miami-beach-cracks-down-on-bogus-towing-fees-after-complaint-10649222
Tow Truck Companies Will Try To Bully You
The tow truck companies will try to bully you by telling you anything that they can to discourage you from fighting the tow. Many of our clients have been told by tow truck operators that they have lawyers on retainer, that they will win in court regardless, that you won’t hire a lawyer because it is too expensive, and many other things.
Do not fall for those claims.
The reality is that very often these companies are operating illegally. Because of that, you are very likely to win in court if you have a good lawyer.
Hiring a lawyer will also not cost you any money. This is because we handle these cases on a contingency fee basis. Meaning, you do not pay us anything out of pocket for us to handle your case.
What Should I Do If Towed In Miami Beach?
If you are towed in Miami Beach you should do the following:
- Take photos of all the entrances of the lot from which you were towed. This evidence will be very important later.
- Take photos of the payment machine in the lot, if there is one.
- Pay to have your car back as soon as possible.
- Make sure that you get, and keep, the tow receipt.
After you’ve done the above, give us a call at 305-501-8021. We are on a mission to eliminate these illegal towing practices one case at a time.
If you’re interested to know more about our crusade to crush illegal towing and booting practices in South Florida check out our article.