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Need an advice on illegal towing in San Jose, CA

Discussion in 'Parking Tickets, Towing, Impound' started by alpsholic, Oct 5, 2018.

  1. alpsholic

    alpsholic Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    My car got towed from a residential property in San Jose, CA. There was no loading/unloading zone at the point. I was trying to load my baby but she started crying. I just went around to show some play area to pacify her. Within these 2-3 min, my car was towed. Upon seeing the truck, my friend, me with the baby ran after the truck. My friend stopped the truck within a few hundred meters very much within the property.

    The driver asked my friend if he was the owner. My friend pointed at me saying I am the driver. I was a bit behind him because running slow with my baby in hand. But the driver didn't pay any attention and escaped the scene in just 10 sec. We were utter shocked. We could find the details of the towing company and went there within 10-15min. The driver insisted to pay 400$+ (towing fee + storage + gate fee).
    The driver was so reckless to give any answers and was telling us the only option is to pay to get the car and do whatever later.

    I researched further on what the law says for my context. I am copy pasting the relevant parts of CA vehicle code and SJ municipal code. I strongly feel from all of the following that- the tow guy should have released the car immediately when we stopped and should not have charged anything.

    What is your interpretation on this? What should my next steps? Thank you so much to each of you who would reply.

    As per the CA code:
    CVC § 22658 (h)

    A towing company may impose a charge of not more than one-half of the regular towing charge for the towing of a vehicle at the request of the owner, the owner's agent, or the person in lawful possession of the private property pursuant to this section if the owner of the vehicle or the vehicle owner's agent returns to the vehicle after the vehicle is coupled to the tow truck by means of a regular hitch, coupling device, drawbar, portable dolly, or is lifted off the ground by means of a conventional trailer, and before it is removed from the private property. The regular towing charge may only be imposed after the vehicle has been removed from the property and is in transit.

    San Jose Municipal code:

    6.66.310 (B) It is unlawful to charge the vehicle owner any fee to drop the vehicle or otherwise release the vehicle back to his control at any point between its location on the private property and its arrival at the tow-car storage facility. Such a "drop charge" to the vehicle owner is defined as reimbursement from the vehicle owner for services rendered by the tow-truck permittee. These services include, but are not limited to, unlocking the vehicle, tying off the steering wheel, disconnecting the drive shaft or related system, and recovery of time and wages of the tow-truck operator. C. It shall be unlawful to remove any vehicle from private property once its owner or person in lawful control has returned to its location on the property and declared his opposition to the removal. In order to make this declaration, it is not required that the person produce any identification connecting him with the vehicle. The person declaring opposition to the removal must remove the vehicle within five minutes to a legal or nonrestrictive parking area or the vehicle will be towed.

    6.66.310 (C) It shall be unlawful to remove any vehicle from private property once its owner or person in lawful control has returned to its location on the property and declared his opposition to the removal. In order to make this declaration, it is not required that the person produce any identification connecting him with the vehicle. The person declaring opposition to the removal must remove the vehicle within five minutes to a legal or nonrestrictive parking area or the vehicle will be towed.
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    If you don't pay the $400 today, it'll grow enormously by tomorrow, the next day, etc...

    Better to pay $400 now, and worry about recovering or arguing about it tomorrow.

    If you have paid the $400, there are no magic words, enchanted dance, or spell you cna cast which will mesmerize the tow company into returning to you the $400.

    Despite what any law may say, your recourse, is to take the tow company to small claims court where you can attempt to get judge to agree with that the tow was improper.

    I have no idea if the tow was improper, or even illegal.

    If I were you, I'd pay the $400 and use this as a valuable lesson about parking properly to avoid future tow incidents.

    The fact that you have a baby means nothing, insofar as this matter is concerned.

    Good luck.
     
  3. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Agreed
    Unfortunately you will have to pay what they ask to get the car back.
    You will have to pursue them in small claims and make your argument that they failed to comply with the law and owe you reimbursement.
    The longer it takes you to get the car back the more the storage fees will increase.

    The only alternative is to speak with the owner (if different than the driver) and see if you can persuade them to release the vehicle to avoid you suing them. With your witness you likely have a good argument to make, and the owner may appreciate knowing the driver is doing shady things that could lead to trouble.
     
  4. alpsholic

    alpsholic Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Sorry for the confusion. I already paid it and got the car back that same night.
     
  5. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Then you can attempt to pursue the matter further in small claims court.

    You can also report the incident to your elected city council person.

    The council person MIGHT be able to help you.

    The mayor might help you, too, if you ask for help.
     
    alpsholic likes this.
  6. alpsholic

    alpsholic Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks a ton for all the replies. Given the snapshot of vehicle code, is it possible for you guys to interpret and tell me your conclusion?
    My understanding is- if me or anyone else (=my friend in this case) stops the truck before it left the property, the towing driver is obliged to release the vehicle.

    Thanks again.
     
  7. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    That is correct, but you must pay them.
     
  8. alpsholic

    alpsholic Law Topic Starter New Member

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    so he has to release the car straightaway but can charge of half of regular towing only.
     
  9. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    The only opinion that matters is the judge, IF you take your concerns to court.

    Even if the ordinance you offered applies, only a judge can make the tow operator regret what you allege he did.

    Bottom line, this only gets resolved if you take it to court.

    Be prepared for the tow operator to say no one stopped him, because no one was around when he towed the car.

    yeah, people regularly lie in court or in public hearings, just ask Justice Kavanaugh.
     
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