Colorado’s Towing Bill of Rights

Few car-owner experiences are more frustrating (and unexpectedly expensive) than having your car towed. In response to rising complaints from towing victims to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the General Assembly passed HB22-1314, or the Towing Bill of Rights. This law went into effect in August 2022.

A black and white cartoon drawing of an anthropomorphized tow truck with an extra large engine, eyeballs instead of headlights, and askew wheels.
A cartoon that accompanied Chinook‘s 1972 article titled, “Rip offs thwarted: Colo PUC regulates towers.” Photo from Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection.

Legislators considered improvements to towing regulations for a few years before passing the Towing Bill of Rights. They asked the Legislative Council Staff to create issue briefs about vehicle towing in 2019 and 2022 in order to study the existing regulations. These issue briefs both contain an overview of the laws related to vehicle towing and the use of immobilizing parking boots.

The changes made in the Towing Bill of Rights focus on “nonconsensual tows,” which occur when the tow is ordered by a law enforcement officer or property owner rather than the vehicle’s owner. The new law also only applies to towing on private residential properties, so your car could still be towed from places like restaurants and grocery store parking lots.

The PUC provides an overview of the significant changes made in the law on their website. A few notable updates include:

  • Towing companies must provide written notice 24 hours before a nonconsensual tow, with some exceptions (for example, if the vehicle is blocking a marked fire zone).
  • Upon request and without a fee, towing companies must release vehicles that are in the process of being towed, if they haven’t yet left private property.
  • Towing carriers are required to photograph the condition of the vehicle and the reason for the tow prior to hooking the vehicle to the tow truck.
  • It is now prohibited to tow vehicles for having expired license plates/registration unless the towing company is directed to do so by law enforcement.

If you think that your vehicle was towed illegally under the new Towing Bill of Rights, you can file a complaint with the PUC. To check if a towing company is properly permitted, use the most recent Carriers with permits: Towing directory in our digital repository.