The Attorney General provides Consumer Alerts to inform the public of unfair, misleading, or deceptive business practices, and to provide information and guidance on other issues of concern. Consumer Alerts are not legal advice, legal authority, or a binding legal opinion from the Department of Attorney General.
Vehicles are commonly towed in two scenarios: at the owner's direction, or at the direction of the police when a vehicle has been designated as abandoned on a public roadway. This Consumer Alert advises citizens regarding applicable Michigan law, how to file a complaint, how to find and recover vehicles that have been designated as abandoned, and how to challenge unreasonable towing fees regarding abandoned vehicles.
All towing companies in Michigan are regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission under the Motor Carrier Act, MCL 479.2. This means that consumer complaints regarding towing companies can be directed to the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Regulatory and Credentialing Unit of the Michigan State Police at 517-284-3250. On the other hand, if the vehicle was towed at the direction of the police, complaints regarding the towing company may be directed to the police agency that directed the tow; and unreasonable towing fees can be challenged as explained below.
Michigan law authorizes police and government agencies to provide for the immediate removal of a vehicle from public or private property to a place of safekeeping. See MCL 257.252 et seq. Within 24 hours after authorizing the removal, the police agency must enter the vehicle into the law enforcement information network as abandoned and notify the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State then has seven days within which to notify the last-titled owner regarding the location of the vehicle, the procedure to redeem the vehicle, and the procedure to contest the abandonment of the vehicle and to contest the reasonableness of the towing and daily storage fees. Towing and storage fees are typically set by agreement between the police agency and the towing company. You may wish to contact the police agency involved in the towing of your vehicle to verify any fees that have been charged. You should also review your automobile insurance policy or contact your insurance company to see if your insurance covers any costs related to the towing of your vehicle.
The Secretary of State’s website includes a form petition for contesting the removal of a vehicle or for contesting the reasonableness of the towing and storage fees. The website also includes instructions for vehicle owners and a searchable database that owners can use to find their vehicle.
Warning: Failure to redeem the vehicle or to request a hearing within 20 days after notification by the Secretary of State may result in the sale of the vehicle and the termination of the owner’s rights to the vehicle.