Having a car towed is not only frustrating; it's expensive. But some lawyers say that thanks to a flaw in the law's language more and more of them are exposing, the wording on towing signs could get some drivers their money back.
A sign may have all the required information, but if it doesn't follow the law exactly, a judge may rule it illegal.
TCU student Sydney Lopez says she illegally parked in a parking lot on April 4 and was towed. She borrowed $300 from her mom to get her car back.
“I was in the wrong, so it was my fault,” said Lopez.
Lopez’s car was one of up to 50 tows Fort Worth’s Lone Star Towing did that day.
“We are regulated,” said Lone Star Towing manager Billy Heiser. “I mean, we really are. The state tells us what we can and can’t do.”
But the letter of the law could mean a loophole, in attorney Warren Norred's eyes.
“It has to say, ‘Unauthorized vehicles will be towed or booted at owner’s or operator’s expense,’ in quotes,” said Norred.
Norred showed FOX 4 a photo of a towing sign that reads, “Violators will be towed at owner/operators expense and liability.”
“This says, ‘Violators will be towed at owner/operators expense and liability,’” said Norred. “Is that the same thing? Some judges would say yes; some judges would say no.”
Even though the information is all there in the sign, it must be stated word-for-word. Norred considers it the same thing as parking in a spot slightly out of the lines and still getting towed.
“If you're going to use a technicality to tow somebody, then we're going to use a technicality to fight back,” said Norred.
Norred has 20 tow cases in process and has won 50 court summary judgments within the last several years, with the average payout of $2,000 per tow.
Still, Lopez will take her tow on the chin, even though she’s out an arm and a leg.
“Trying to get my money back is just kind of, in my eyes, robbing someone,” said Lopez.
Aside from exact language, tow signs must be red and white, say when drivers may or may not park there and when enforcement happens.
However, drivers won’t have a case if they park on property and walk somewhere else.
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