It can happen to any of us at any moment. We went somewhere, parked the car, did whatever we went to do and came back to find it's not there. Then comes the panic.
Was it stolen? Was it used as a getaway car on a daring bank heist? Maybe some aliens came from Alpha Centauri all the way to Florida and chose your car, of all things, to study our technology. Maybe Superman used it as a blunt object to smack a supervillain in the face.
Or maybe it was the most common cause of them all and your car was towed. There are many reasons this could happen - one of the most common is that your Fort Lauderdale auto tags could be expired.
Towed Car in Fort Lauderdale, Florida?
After all, in the state of Florida, businesses and property owners are legally allowed to tow your car away from their property if it was parked without permission. There are many towing companies that enforce these towing operations. Aside from that, there are parking laws enforced by the city you may be in, and your car may have been towed for breaking any of these.
Overlooking parking signs and outdated vehicle registration tags can be the most common causes of car towing, especially if you're visiting unfamiliar places. And even then, sometimes the system fails you and legally-parked cars can be wrongly towed.
Don't feel too bad if you missed any parking signs, they can be easy to miss and regulations vary depending on time and place. For example, in some places in Florida parking is free after 6 p.m., but parking before that time has a cost of $.25 per minute.
If by any chance you arrived on the scene and your car is being towed, the party doing it is legally obliged by Florida law to stop the towing operation. Then he must return the vehicle if you pay a service fee that can't be more than half its current towing rate. However, if you're unable to pay the service fee, the towing party is legally able to tow your vehicle and take off with it into the sunset.
Whatever the case, the first thing you must do when your car is towed is to calm down and follow a few simple steps.
See if it was meant to be towed: It's always smart to know for sure if your car deserved to be taken away. Scan the area where your car was stationed and look for signs that say your car shouldn't be parked in that lot or that street.
If it turns out your car wasn't supposed to be towed, it will be very useful to have evidence to prove it. If that's the case, it would also be a lot of help if you look for reliable witnesses that live or work in that area and get their contact information.
Find out who has your vehicle: The towing industry in Florida has regulations that enforce certain regulations that make most illegal parking zones have a sign from the tow company in charge of taking away your vehicle.
In any case, towing companies in Florida must inform the local police or sheriff department of the towing operation withing 30 minutes of being completed, along with information on the place where your car was taken. Because of this, you can always call your town's law enforcement departments and find out if they towed it and where.
You could also wait until the company that is storing your car sends you (assuming you own the car) a certified mail informing what happened, as required by Florida laws.
Recover your car: When you find out where it is, next thing to do is to get it back, of course. The difficulty of getting your car back will depend on why they took it and who did it. If your car was taken by a regular towing company that works on behalf of the parking space's owner, you should be able to get it back just by paying a fine.
If it was taken by the city for any infraction, it can be a little more complicated. Unpaid parking tickets, mounting the curb, having parked near the scene of a crime under investigation are reasons with varying degrees of gravity, and thus different regulations.
One of the most common and troublesome causes for car towing enforced by the city can be that they found out your vehicle had an unregistered or outdated tag. Not only can it be towed by the local authorities, in some parts of Florida local private communities can enforce this and take your car to an impound on a whim. To avoid such a problem, it's better to take a proactive step and have your tags and registrations up to date at all times.
If your car wasn't meant to be towed, pursue the case: If you think you're due, you'll be entitled to file for a hearing within the jurisdiction where your car was towed. This hearing should take place withing the first 21 days from the day you filed your case. To have this hearing granted you also must file it within the first 14 days after your car was towed.
If the hearing goes through, you may have all fees and charges reimbursed to you, if it doesn't go your way, you might be made to pay for the cost of the hearing. So only do this if you are absolutely informed and certain that your vehicle was wrongly towed.
Having your car towed can be a dreadful hassle, but it's always better to be on top of the situation and solve it as cleanly and rapidly as possible.
If you lose your car and never get it back, according to Florida law it can be sold after 35 days if the car is three years or older, or after 50 days if the car is less than three years old.
This means that if you don't recover your towed car in 35 to 50 days, you could be seeing your car being sold at a local car auction or a police auction. Those are trips that your car was never meant to take, and you should always avoid them
If you don't want to be in this situation in the first place, there are always some steps you can take to prevent them.
First of all, always be aware of parking signs and indicators of parking violations. Aside from looking out for "no parking" zones, you should avoid parking in ways that obstruct traffic, blocking fire hydrants, blocking access to hydrants, sidewalks and handicap ramps and of course, parking cars that could be illegal to drive due to broken lights, missing rearview mirrors and other regulated details.
Most of all, you should always have your documents and tags up to date as there are steep fines in your future if your car is not properly registered. Have your car tags done by a professional service and drive safely without concern!