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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who can tow your car or truck?
DC government officials can order public tows in emergencies -- and when vehicles:

  • are involved in accidents
  • don’t show license plates, registrations, or inspection stickers.
  • are disabled. (broken down)
  • are parked in tow-away or other no-parking zones.
  • block private driveways.
  • are abandoned or threaten public health or safety.
  • are parked on private property without consent.
A private property owner can order a public tow if a vehicle is illegally parked on private property and has been ticketed.
Private tows can be requested by:
  • a private property owner or someone authorized by the private property owner via written agreement with the tow company.
  • a lender. (the company that financed the vehicle)
  • the vehicle’s driver.
The Tow Locator WILL NOT track Private tows.

2. What can you expect from a private towing company?
The towing business must:

  • be licensed by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) -- after DCRA investigates it, its driving and criminal records, insurance, and surety bond.
  • follow all towing service license regulations.
  • have a separate license to operate a towing storage lot.
  • give courteous and respectful service no matter what your car’s condition; or your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, personal appearance, familial status, matriculation, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, source of income, family responsibilities, political affiliation, age, or place of residence or business.
  • post its rate list at its storage facility.

3. Does a car owner have rights?
If you see your vehicle being towed, you can:

  • ask to stop the tow. (If the official who ordered the tow agrees, you must pay the operator a $50 drop fee.)
After the tow, you have the right to:
  • get an itemized statement of actual charges.
  • get the name and account number of the towing company’s insurance carrier. (The towing company is responsible for any damage from a public tow.)
  • get a receipt, copy of the ticket or legal authority to tow the car, DPW towing control number, and the Owner’s Bill of Rights.
  • pay by cash; insurance draft; money order; bank or certified check; or credit card (at least 2 nationally-known). Tow Truck Companies cannot insist that you pay in cash to retrieve your vehicle.
  • inspect your vehicle at the storage facility; however, you cannot remove any personal property from the vehicle without authorization of the tow company.
  • have no repairs made to your vehicle unless you authorize them in writing.
  • have the vehicle released to you when you prove your identity and ownership and pay all charges.

4. How much can a towing company charge for a public tow?
For preparation, hoist, tow to a place in DC:
Standard: vehicles under 8,000 lbs: No more than $100 per tow.
Heavy-duty: vehicles over 8,000 lbs: No more than $275 per tow.


  • Road Service: No more than $50 per visit.
  • Disconnect (drop): No more than $50.
Storage fee*: $20 per day.
Extra Charges (for accident sites or Operator may collect -- but other special situations) get DCRA approval within 72 hours.

* Daily storage fees start when the vehicle gets to the storage lot.

5. What if you’re towed for failure to pay tickets?
Pay online at dmv.dc.gov; by mail to the address on the ticket; or at DMV Adjudication Services, 955 L’ Enfant Plaza, SW, Washington, DC 20024. Take proof of payment to the Blue Plains Towing Lot at 5001 Shepherd Pkwy, SW, Washington DC 20032 to claim your car.

6. Who should I call if I have a question about a towed vehicle?
Call DC’s Towing Control Dispatcher: (202) 541-6083.