‘Tis the Season for Parking Problems

Holiday parties and crowded shopping malls, not to mention the possibility for winter weather, can make parking your car a major headache this time of year.  The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) wants you to be prepared so that your holiday festivities don’t get spoiled by having your car towed.

The Public Utilities Commission, a division of DORA, posted these tips in a recent press release:

1. Park on private property only if you have permission; otherwise park only in public lots.

Private property owners, as well as individuals or companies that have been authorized in writing to act as agent for the property owner, have a right to remove vehicles that are parked on their property without permission. This applies to businesses, apartment complexes, residences and any other private property. So before you leave your car, first do a thorough search for any signs that may indicate that the lot you chose is private.  


2: Private property restrictions can be can be enforced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 


That party you’re attending is just across the street from a business with a private lot. The business is closed. It’s ok to park there, right? 


Not unless you have explicit permission from the property owner.


Even if a business is closed, at night or on weekends, it can still have non-authorized vehicles removed from its parking lot. And it doesn’t matter how long the vehicle has been parked there. If you park in a private lot and run across the street just for a few minutes to complete an errand, your vehicle could be towed.


3: Be prepared – getting your car back will be expensive.


The PUC regulates the rates for non-consensual tows, but a private property tow could still end up costing you several hundred dollars once all the charges for the tow, mileage and storage are added up.


So you got towed … now what?


The PUC has adopted rules that provide some consumer protections in cases of non-consensual tows.


·  Towing carriers are required to obtain proper authorization from a property owner before a tow can be made;


·  Authorization must be filled out in full, signed by the property owner, and given to the towing carrier at the time the vehicle is to be removed from the private property;


·  If a consumer attempts to retrieve their vehicle before it is removed from private property, the towing carrier must release the vehicle if the consumer agrees to pay the “drop charge”;


·  And a towing carrier must be available within the first 24-hours of having stored a vehicle to either release the vehicle from storage immediately upon demand during normal business hours or with one hour’s notice during all other times.

DORA also reminds holiday partygoers and hosts that many homeowners’ associations (HOAs) have parking restrictions.  Spaces may be reserved for owners, or what look like spaces could be designated fire lanes.  DORA recommends homeowners in HOAs familiarize themselves with their HOA’s visitor parking regulations before the guests arrive.  Guests having their cars towed would be a sure way to spoil the party!

Finally, if you’re traveling with passengers who are elderly or disabled, you can learn about parking rules in the Colorado Department of Revenue’s brochure Persons with Disabilities Parking Privileges.

For further information on parking rules see the Colorado Driver Handbook.