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Michigan Department of Attorney General Re-Releases Towing Consumer Alert to Celebrate National Consumer Protection Week

LANSING – March 6 through 9, 2023, marks National Consumer Protection Week. In recognition, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel will re-release the consumer alerts on the subjects that Michigan residents report to the Department most frequently.

Today, AG Nessel is drawing Michiganders’ attention to the department’s consumer alert regarding how to properly retrieve a vehicle that has been towed, and how to report unlawful towing or unreasonable fees.

“Transportation is essential for our residents to go about their daily tasks like getting to work or picking up their kids from school,” Nessel said. “When an individual has their vehicle towed, the last thing they need is to be misled about how to retrieve it. The Department of Attorney General has the answers that can get them back in their vehicle and out on the road.”

The Michigan Vehicle Code, MCL 257.252a, lists the scenarios when police and government agencies may provide for the immediate removal of a vehicle from private or public property to a place of safekeeping at the owner's expense. The law also permits private property owners who follow specific posting requirements to initiate vehicle removal.

Under Michigan law, once the towing of a vehicle is authorized and complete, the vehicle will be referred to as an "abandoned vehicle" unless or until the owner goes through the legal process to redeem it (get it back) or contests the appropriateness of the tow in court. This is also the case if a vehicle is involved in a crash and not redeemed within 20 days.

When a vehicle is taken into custody as abandoned, the owner and any secured party are notified by mail of the vehicle's status and location. This notice must be sent within seven days after the Secretary of State receives notice from the police that the vehicle has been taken into custody.

The vehicle custodian (the entity storing the vehicle) must allow the owner to inspect the vehicle and retrieve personal property from the vehicle without paying a fee for the first visit. After the first visit, the custodian may not charge the owner more than $25.00 for each additional visit.

You have the right to challenge whether your vehicle was properly towed and the reasonableness of towing and storage fees, but you must do so in a timely manner and in an appropriate district court. The petition to do so and instructions for how to fill it out are included with the mailed notice, or available on the Secretary of State's webpage (Petition Regarding Impoundment of Motor Vehicle (DC90) form).

The Michigan Department of Attorney General addresses over 30,000 consumer complaints annually, ranging from identity theft and online scams to robocalls or fraudulent business practices. For more information about popular consumer scams, or if you believe you’ve been a victim, residents can contact the Consumer Protection team Monday-Friday at 877-765-8388 or complete our online complaint form.


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