Ask Amy: Does a tow truck driver have to stop if you catch them mid-hookup?

(Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

It’s so frustrating to walk out to your parking spot and your car has been towed. What if you catch the tow truck driver in the act of hooking up your car - do they have to stop? What if they ignore you? It might not be too late if you see the tow truck driver in action.

We introduced you to nurse Laura LaBry. She was towed while visiting a patient at an apartment complex in Pasadena.

(Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

“My car was towed by a window as I watched it,” she told us.

LaBry contacted us because she thought she was unjustly towed. But we did some checking and found out that every car that parks at the complex must have a permit. So even though there were empty spots it was a legal tow. But this did have us looking into the tow rules in Texas and we wanted to share helpful information.

Question: What if you run out and see your car getting towed away? Do they have to stop?

Answer: It depends. The Texas Department of Licensing and Registration (TDLR) tells us if your vehicle is not fully hooked up, the driver must release your car without charging any fees. You do not need to prove ownership.

If the car is fully hooked up, but has not left the parking lot, they should stop - but you’ll have to pay a drop fee to get the vehicle back.

The max drop fee is $135 for a car and $190 for a truck or SUV. There are some higher rates for very heavy vehicles like 18-wheelers.

A tow truck driver must accept cash, credit and debit cards as payment for the drop charge.

Question: What if the tow truck driver won’t stop?


Answer: TDLR tells us to let them take the car. Don’t try to run after or jump on the vehicle to stop them. (Yes, it’s been done.) Take videos and pictures and be sure to get the tow company name in the video.

Then file for a tow hearing with the Justice of the Peace. You have 14 days to do that.

Tow fees are regulated

Tow fees are regulated by the state - so the max you should ever pay for a tow is $272 for a car, and $380 for an SUV or truck. There are other fees for heavier types of vehicles.

Fees could vary by county - but they can never charge more. These fees are evaluated every two years.

If your car has been towed away then you can find your car by calling the telephone number posted on the tow-away sign. The state of Texas has detailed information in the laws regarding tow trucks.

TDLR tells us none of these rules apply for repo cases.

About the tow boot: If your car has a boot attached, call the telephone number listed on the warning sticker attached to the window. TDLR warns that you should not try to remove the boot or drive with the boot attached because you will damage your vehicle.

If you have a question for Amy and the team, email us at and we will work to find you an answer.

About the Authors:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.

Award-winning TV producer and content creator. My goal as a journalist is to help people. Faith and family motivate me. Running keeps me sane.