Toronto’s Tow-Truck Operators Break the Rules At Our Expense

Update:

Tow trucks often hook-up vehicles. illegally, while waiting for Parking Enforcement to show up and issue a parking ticket to the vehicle. This is illegal and is not in compliance with Chapter 545 - 112 of the Toronto Municipal Code - which both tow truck operators and parking enforcement officers must follow.
Tow trucks often hook-up vehicles. illegally, while waiting for Parking Enforcement to show up and issue a parking ticket to the vehicle. This is illegal and is not in compliance with Chapter 545 – 112 of the Toronto Municipal Code – which both tow truck operators and parking enforcement officers must follow.

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On January 5, 2015 recently elected Toronto Mayor John Tory pushed police to ticket and tow (the “tag & tow”) vehicles parked on the busy streets in Toronto, during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Police began to ticket and tow at 7 a.m and by 10 a.m. when the Mayor held a press conference, he announced that eighteen (18) vehicles had already received a $150 ticket (for parking in a rush-hour zone) and had been towed. Mayor Tory conducted this blitz, through police, during Jan. & Feb. 2015. He will conduct another blitz during Toronto’s rush-hours again beginning after Labour Day. There are two (2) “rush hour” periods, in 4 hour intervals, in Toronto. Rush hour in Toronto runs Monday to Friday, 6-10 a.m. and 3-7 p.m.(8 hrs.daily)

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Being ticketed and towed can be a devastating experience to a motorist who didn’t expect it. The first question is where is my vehicle? You phone the police (Toronto Police at 416-808-2222) reporting a theft and your told that your vehicle was towed. You phone the towing company and they inform you that they did indeed tow your vehicle and they inform you what impound lot you can pick it up at and the price of the tow and the impound fee. They tell you with a smile in their voice that they accept credit or debit.

Your faced with a huge unexpected bill and to add insult to injury, your forced to travel out of your way to some impound lot to have your vehicle extricated – after you fork out the towing fee and impound storage fee and receive a hefty parking ticket.

Fees are set by each tow truck company and run from $149 to $160 for towing, plus daily storage costs at impound lots, ranging from $50 to $80.
Fees are set by each tow truck company and run from $149 to $160 for towing, plus daily storage costs at impound lots, ranging from $50 to $80.

Fees are set by each company and run from $149 to $160 for towing, plus daily storage costs at impound lots, ranging from $50 to $80.

Remember, pick-up your vehicle within four (4) hours to avoid additonal full days daily impound storage fee. Impound lots, in accordance with a City by-law, can charge a quarter of their daily storage fee per hour, for the first four hours (even if it has been there for an hour) a vehicle is impounded.

fightyourtickets.ca received an email today which stated the motorist was towed which would cost her $260, plus a $40 parking ticket.  This is very expensive, but parking in a rush-hour zone would cost you the towing fee, the impound storage fee and $150 parking ticket, to the tune of about $410.00.

A tow truck waiting for the rush hour on University Avenue, where many vehicles park and are subsequently ticketed and towed.
A tow truck waiting for the rush hour on University Avenue, where many vehicles park and are subsequently ticketed and towed. According to Toronto police, there are 50,000 vehicles that are ticketed and towed every year.

According to police, there are about 2.7 million parking tickets issued and 50,000 vehicles towed every year.  Given Mayor Tory’s tag and tow policy (the blitz centers around the downtown core which has 60 km’s of arterial roads), which started in January 2014, there will be more than 50,000 vehicles towed in 2015.

Motorists who know that they face being towed and are prepared to roll the dice and take a chance, don’t mind being towed or shouldn’t.  But those who are unaware or don’t read the signs or follow current affairs in the news, do mind and are very upset.

Before a tow truck operator can begin to hook up a vehicle, it must have a parking ticket attached to it first. Often, tow truck operators, begin to hook-up a vehicle, after calling and letting parking enforcement know where the vehicle is parked.  This is an illegal practice and the vehicle must be ticketed before the hooking up of the vehicle begins by the tow truck operator.
Before a tow truck operator can begin to hook-up a vehicle, it must have a parking ticket attached to it first. Often, tow truck operators, begin to hook-up a vehicle, after calling and letting parking enforcement know where the vehicle is parked. This is an illegal practice and the vehicle must be ticketed before the hooking up of the vehicle begins by the tow truck operator.

Relationship between Tow Truck Operators and Parking Enforcement Officers

Tow truck drivers have to make a living like the rest of us and the more vehicles they tow back to the yard on a daily basis, the more money they make.

Parking Enforcement Officers make a living by issuing tickets and although they will deny it, they have to fulfill a daily quota of tickets.

Tow truck operators rely upon Parking Enforcement Officers to ticket vehicles before they tow it and Parking Enforcement Officers rely upon tow truck operators to tow a vehicle, after they have issued a ticket for that vehicle.

Often, it is the role of the Parking Enforcement Officer to contact a tow truck company in the vicinity to come and tow a vehicle that has been found illegally parked.

What happens in many cases, is that tow truck operators contact parking enforcement to inform them that they have located an illegally parked vehicle and ask that they join them to issue a parking ticket.

A parking enforcement officer speaking to a tow truck operator, while he is putting a car on the lift.
A parking enforcement officer speaking to a tow truck operator, while he is putting a car on the lift.

Tow Truck Operators Flaunting the Rules

What is unsettling though, is watching tow truck operators and parking enforcement officers flaunting the rules, in an effort to expedite the tow.

This happens when a tow truck operator notices an illegally parked vehicle (especially in rush-hour zones, Mon-Fri. 6-10 a.m. and 3-7 p.m.) and parks in front of the illegally parked vehicle.

Rather then waiting for the parking enforcement officer to arrive and write and issue the ticket, the tow truck operator begins to hook-up the illegally parked vehicle with his/her tow truck. This practice is illegal and contrary to the very specific rules laid out in Chapter 545 – 112 of the Toronto Municipal Code, specifically:

Chapter 545 – 112 of the Toronto Municipal Code

§545-112 Duties of owners and drivers upon being hired; solicitation of tow truck services.
A. No driver or owner driving his or her own tow truck shall commence to tow or otherwise convey any vehicle, or to hook, lift or connect the vehicle to the tow truck, or to perform any other services, unless first requested so to do by one of the following:
(1) A hirer;
(2) Any peace officer, as defined in the Criminal Code of Canada;
(3) Any member of a municipal fire department;
(4) Any person authorized by law to direct the removal of the vehicle from municipal property; or
(5) Subject to Subsection G of this section, any person authorized by law to direct the removal of the vehicle from private property.
G. Despite Subsection A(5) of this article, no driver or owner driving his or her own tow truck shall commence to tow or otherwise convey any vehicle from private property or to hook, lift or connect such vehicle to the tow truck, or to perform any other services in relation to such vehicle without the consent of the owner of the vehicle, unless:

(1) Subject to Subsection H of this section, a parking infraction notice has first been issued and served in accordance with Part II of the Provincial Offences Act, as amended;

(2) A Toronto Police Services tow card has first been issued by the municipal law enforcement officer who issued the parking infraction notice, or by a police officer, police cadet or a municipal law enforcement officer employed by the Toronto Police Service;

(3) All pre-conditions to the removal of vehicles contained in any applicable by-law of the City of Toronto enacted pursuant to subsection 210(131) of the Municipal Act, as amended, have been complied with, including, but not limited to, any waiting periods prescribed by such by-laws; and

(4) Signs are posted at the property from which the vehicle is to be removed in accordance with the applicable by-law of the City of Toronto enacted pursuant to subsection 210(131) of the Municipal Act, as amended.

H. Subsection G(1) of this section does not apply to vehicles which do not bear a number plate issued under the Highway Traffic Act, as amended.

This sign is what keeps tow truck operator's downtown and provides an on the street requirement for parking enforcement officers.
This sign is what keeps tow truck operator’s downtown and provides an on the street requirement for parking enforcement officers.

Before a tow truck operator can hook-up a vehicle, the Toronto Municipal Code requires that a parking infraction notice (the parking ticket) has first been issued and served in accordance with Part II of the Provincial Offences Act by the Parking Enforcement Officer.

Often though, a Parking Enforcement Officer shows up after the tow truck has hooked-up the vehicle and issues the ticket and places it on the vehicle. The tow truck then pulls the vehicle away. The Parking Enforcement Officer provides tacid approval of this practice of the tow truck operator, as it satisfies the objectives of both parties (increased number of tows and an increase in the number of parking tickets issued).

If a tow truck operator hooks up your vehicle, before a parking ticket is issued for the vehicle, the operator cannot charge you to unhook or to drop your vehicle for $75 to $80.
If a tow truck operator hooks up your vehicle, before a parking ticket is issued for the vehicle, the operator cannot charge you to unhook or to drop your vehicle for $75 to $80.

Towing Rules:

  • Both Tow Truck Operators and Parking Enforcement Officers must comply with Chapter 545 – 112 of the Toronto Municipal Code
  • The vehicle must be illegally parked before it can be ticketed
  • A Parking Enforcement Officer must issue a ticket for the illegally parked vehicle, before any tow can take place
  • A Tow Truck Operator cannot hook-up to you vehicle, before the Parking Enforcement Officer issues the parking ticket and serves it
  • If the tow truck operator hooks up to any vehicle, before the parking ticket is issued by the Parking Enforcement Officer, then he/she must unhook the vehicle, at no charge to the registered owner of the vehicle
  • The tow truck operator cannot demand an unhook or drop fee of $75-$80 to unhook, unlatch or dropping the vehicle back to the road, if he/she hooked up the vehicle before the parking ticket was issued.
  • The vehicle operator can simply demand that his/her vehicle be immediately released and drive away, avoiding the parking ticket fine and towing/impound storage fees.
Parking Enforcement vehicle, bearing a yellow parking ticket.  A yellow parking ticket must be issued for an illegally parked vehicle before a tow truck can hook up to the vehicle and not before.
Parking Enforcement vehicle, bearing a yellow parking ticket. A yellow parking ticket must be issued for an illegally parked vehicle before a tow truck can hook up to the vehicle and not before.

What happens when a motorist finds that he/her vehicle has been hooked up to the tow truck before the parking ticket has been issued?

A tow cannot begin or take place unless there is compliance with the law (a parking ticket is issued for the vehicle first), in this case, Chapter 545-112 of the Toronto Municipal Code.

Tow truck operators have been performing this practice for so long, they think it’s the norm. Parking Enforcement Officers have condoned the convenient practice for so long, they too think that it is normal.

  • As a result, it you happen to come upon a tow truck operator hooking up your vehicle, when a ticket has not yet been issued, immediately ask that your vehicle be unhooked and released, as they have illegally hooked-up your vehicle. Don’t be surprised if the tow truck operator appears confused, given that this is a wide-spread practice that is conducted within the industry and is condoned by Parking Enforcement Officers
  • Don’t be surprised if the tow truck operator demands an unhook/drop fee of between $75 and $80 — to have it unlatched and returned on the spot that it was taken from. This is illegal, given the fact that it wasn’t legal to perform the hook-up to begin with. Refuse to pay the fee and again request that the car be unhooked or dropped, so you can simply drive away.
  • Record the time and place and then start filming eveything with your phone. Your vehicle, the name and number of the tow truck, including the operator. Make sure you film your windshield which won’t have a yellow parking ticket affixed to the windshield wiper of your vehicle
  • Phone the tow truck company and let them know that their operator isn’t complying with the law (Chapter 545-112 of the Toronto Municipal Code) because a Parking Enforcement Officer hasn’t yet issued or placed a parking ticket on your vehicle and that the operator has illegally hooked you up or lifted your vehicle. Tell them that you want to have the operator unhook or drop the vehicle, without being charged $75-$80 for an unhook or drop fee
  • If that doesn’t work, wait for the Parking Enforcement Officer and let them know that you just want to drive away and are being prevented by the tow truck operator, as he/she hooked your vehicle up before the Parking Enforcement Officer issued the parking ticket and ask him/her to instruct the tow truck operator to unhook your car, without any charges for doing so
  • If all of this fails, take it to court and fight your ticket. If the ticket fails, then the tow and impound storage fees fail. You’ll win your case.
There are 50,000 vehicles towed in Toronto every year.
There are 50,000 vehicles towed in Toronto every year.

What If I Find My Car Hooked-Up or Lifted and It Has Been Ticketed, But Not Yet Towed Away?

You can request that a tow truck operator unhook or drop your vehicle.  It is only at this point that the tow truck operator can legitimately unhook or drop your vehicle, while demanding an unhook or unlatch or drop fee of between $75 to $80. This is a good investment, versus the alternative of a few hundred dollars, once it is towed and waiting at an impound lot.

Whether it is a flatbed tow truck or a standard tow truck, a tow truck operator cannot hook up to any vehicle that is illegally parked until a parking ticket is issued.
Whether it is a flatbed tow truck or a standard tow truck, a tow truck operator cannot hook up to any vehicle that is illegally parked until a parking ticket is issued.

What You’ll have to Pay to Have Your Vehicle Returned

District 1 (west end downtown, south of Highway 401): JP Towing charges $160 for towing and $70 per day for storage.

District 2 (Etobicoke): Bill and Son Towing charges $150 for towing and $71 per day for storage.

District 3 (North York and East York): Abrams Towing charges $164.50 for towing and $65 per day for storage.

District 4 (Scarborough): Williams Towing charges $149 for towing and $80 per day for storage.

District 5 (downtown core south of Bloor St., east end south of Danforth Ave.): A Towing charges $158 for towing and $50 per day for storage.

Chapter 545 – 112 of the Toronto Municipal Code – Duties of owners and driver’s upon being hired; solicitation of tow truck services

Chapter 545 – 112 of the Toronto Municipal Code
TORONTO MUNICIPAL CODE CHAPTER 545, LICENSING

§545-110. Owners and drivers to take due care of vehicles and property of hirer. Every owner and driver shall take due care of all vehicles and property delivered or entrusted to him or her for towing, conveyance or safekeeping.
§ 545-111 Driver to use most direct route. Every licensed driver shall drive the tow truck towing or otherwise conveying a towed vehicle by the most direct route reasonably possible in the circumstances, and the most expeditious manner, unless otherwise directed by the hirer.
§545-112 Duties of owners and drivers upon being hired; solicitation of tow truck services.
A. No driver or owner driving his or her own tow truck shall commence to tow or otherwise convey any vehicle, or to hook, lift or connect the vehicle to the tow truck, or to perform any other services, unless first requested so to do by one of the following:
(1) A hirer;
(2) Any peace officer, as defined in the Criminal Code of Canada;
(3) Any member of a municipal fire department;
(4) Any person authorized by law to direct the removal of the vehicle from municipal property; or
(5) Subject to Subsection G of this section, any person authorized by law to direct the removal of the vehicle from private property.
(1) Subject to Subsection F(2), no owner or driver shall stop or park a tow truck within 60 metres of the scene of an accident or apparent accident or of a vehicle involved or apparently involved in such accident or apparent accident, for the purpose of receiving a request referred to in Subsection A.

(2) Subsection F(1) shall not be deemed to prohibit the stopping or parking of any tow truck if, at the time of such stopping or parking, there are fewer tow trucks within the sixty-metre distance referred to in that subsection than the number of vehicles for which the services of a tow truck are required.

(3) Subsection F(2) shall not be deemed to prohibit the stopping or parking of a tow truck summoned to the scene of the accident by one of the persons referred to in Subsection A.

G. Despite Subsection A(5) of this article, no driver or owner driving his or her own tow truck shall commence to tow or otherwise convey any vehicle from private property or to hook, lift or connect such vehicle to the tow truck, or to perform any other services in relation to such vehicle without the consent of the owner of the vehicle, unless:

(1) Subject to Subsection H of this section, a parking infraction notice has first been issued and served in accordance with Part II of the Provincial Offences Act, as amended;

(2) A Toronto Police Services tow card has first been issued by the municipal law enforcement officer who issued the parking infraction notice, or by a police officer, police cadet or a municipal law enforcement officer employed by the Toronto Police Service;

(3) All pre-conditions to the removal of vehicles contained in any applicable by-law of the City of Toronto enacted pursuant to subsection 210(131) of the Municipal Act, as amended, have been complied with, including, but not limited to, any waiting periods prescribed by such by-laws; and

(4) Signs are posted at the property from which the vehicle is to be removed in accordance with the applicable by-law of the City of Toronto enacted pursuant to subsection 210(131) of the Municipal Act, as amended.

H. Subsection G(1) of this section does not apply to vehicles which do not bear a number plate issued under the Highway Traffic Act, as amended.

See sections/subsections 545-112 A 2&4, G 1,2,3 & 4

Property of Ontario Motor Vehicle Tickets

Parking in the rush-hour zone, Mon-Fri 6-10 am or 3-7 pm will more then likely result in a very expensive tow and a $150 ticket.
Parking in the rush-hour zone, Mon-Fri 6-10 a.m. or 3-7 p.m. will more then likely result in a very expensive tow and a $150 ticket.
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