Private Property Towing Ordinance FAQ

Tow truck loading blue sports car

***This FAQ is provided for information only***

In November 2023, the City of Tucson Mayor and Council passed Ordinance No. 12055, implementing Tucson Code Sections 7-514 and 7-528 in the City Code to regulate towing from private parking areas. The Ordinance aligns with state law and imposes additional restrictions on fees, introduces specifications for signage, describes the permissions required to allow a tow from private parking areas, and specifies the documentation needed to release a motor vehicle from a towing carrier. More specifically, the Ordinance:

  • Caps maximum towing charge, after-hours fees, and storage fees at the current Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) rates.
  • Standardizes sign design required to tow from private parking areas.
  • Prohibits charging an amount greater than that posted on the required signs in the parking area (not including credit card fees).
  • Prohibits charges for an incomplete tow.
  • Requires permission from the property owner (or their representative) to tow from private parking areas.
  • Requires photo evidence of the parking violation.
  • Requires notice to the Tucson Police Department (TPD) within one hour of tow.
  • Establishes penalties for violations for towing carriers, including fines and misdemeanor charges.
  • How do I figure out where my vehicle went?

    The ordinance and state law require the phone number and address of the location where the vehicle can be located to be posted on the sign in the parking area. If this information is not on the sign or there is no sign, you may contact TPD’s non-emergency line at 311.

  • Where does this ordinance apply?

    The ordinance applies to private parking areas inside Tucson’s city limits. A parking area is defined as one or more spaces not affiliated with a single-family residence, intended for temporary public motor vehicle parking. In general, parking areas where your vehicle may be towed will have a standard towing sign posted. However, the ordinance does not apply to City-, police-, or fire-directed tows.

  • What does a compliant sign for a parking area look like?

    A compliant sign should contain the following:

    • Warning-Private Property, Parking violators towed at owner’s expense
    • Maximum cost for violation, including storage fees and any other charges
    • Towing carrier phone number and address where vehicle can be located
    • Reference to Tucson Code, Section 7-514 and 7-528

    Signs must be clearly visible and readable from any point in the parking area and must be red and white or blue and white, except in certain circumstances for homeowner’ associations.

  • My car was towed, but there was no sign (or the sign does not meet the standard set by the ordinance). What do I do?

    It is possible your car was parked in an area that was not applicable to this ordinance, such as a single-family residence, or your vehicle was towed at the direction of the City, or police or fire departments. Your vehicle may also be towed if it was parked for more than 72 hours, per Tucson Code Section 7-518. To determine the location of your vehicle in these instances contact the TPD non-emergency line at 311.

  • When can I get my vehicle?

    You can call the towing carrier that has your vehicle to determine their hours of operation. This information should be listed on the sign in the parking area where your vehicle was parked. Generally, towing carriers are likely to be open during the business hours defined by the ordinance of 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m.-noon on Saturday. Towing carriers may choose to be open at times other than those, in which case you may be subject to an after-hours charge. However, if they are not open during the defined business hours you should not be charged a storage fee for the day your vehicle was not retrievable.

  • What documents do I need to bring to have my vehicle released?

    Per Tucson Code Section 7-524, you would need to bring a government issued photo identification and at least one of the following:

     (1) A valid certificate of title in the claimant’s name.
     (2) Proof of current vehicle registration in the claimant’s name, not including a restricted use three (3) day permit.
     (3) A repossession affidavit, a hold harmless liability release from legal claims, and, if applicable, a proof of lien on the vehicle.
     (4) An insurance company release pursuant to A.R.S. § 28-4847.
     (5) A certified motor vehicle record.
     (6) Proof of a bona fide security interest or other financial interest in the vehicle that exists at the time of the tow
     (7) A notarized letter by the vehicle owner allowing the claimant to retrieve the vehicle on the owner’s behalf.

  • What if I need to release a vehicle that I do not own, such as a family member’s vehicle?

    You will need your government issued photo ID and a notarized letter from the vehicle owner allowing you to retrieve the vehicle.

  • I need to access my vehicle to get my ID or other property. What do I do?

    The towing carrier must allow you to access or assist you in accessing your ID without an additional charge. If you need to retrieve property from your vehicle, you must first prove ownership or authorization with appropriate documentation, at which point the towing carrier must allow you to access or assist you in accessing your property without an additional charge.

  • Do I have to pay for the tow before my vehicle can be released?

    The towing carrier cannot place a lien or force you to agree to a promissory note to release the vehicle. The vehicle must be released immediately upon production of the appropriate documentation. Billing and collection may happen later.

  • What is the maximum that I can be charged?

    The maximum charges must be posted on the sign in the parking area. The maximum rate is tied to the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) rate schedule.

  • How do I pay for my towing charges?

Cash, credit, and debit cards must be accepted. You may be subject to a fee for card transactions, which may or may not be listed on the parking sign. Requiring exact change is prohibited.