'Not a good day,' groans driver wrongfully towed from vacation rental

A DRIVER'S car was unexpectedly loaded onto the back of a tow truck. He is on the hook for a surprise $175 fine.

A Jeep Cherokee owner said his SUV was wrongfully towed while he was vacationing.

A new law will require tow operators to complete an extra step before snagging carsCredit: FOX 29A driver complained after paying $175 - he said his car was wrongfully towed.Credit: FOX 29

"Not a good day in Philadelphia," Devin Bathgate, the Jeep owner, told local Fox affiliate WTXF-TV while fetching his car from the impound lot.

"Went to the casinos, and I lost a lot of money last night, and now I got towed today."

Bathgate said he parked the SUV in a private spot owned by the bed and bath hotel where he stayed.

The driver said he had approval from the hotel to park his car in the space.

But a towing company snagged his car and brought it to the impound lot, even though the driver said he didn't do anything wrong.

"The ticket was supposed to be $222, but I'm going to dispute it, so they said pay them $175 today," he told the station.

Bathgate also said the tow truck left a dent on the SUV's front bumper where the vehicle was hooked.

"They damaged my vehicle," he claimed.

"So, I'm not happy."

However, the city passed a new road law to protect drivers from illegal tows.

I got $131 ticket & had my car towed despite obeying parking rules - officials admit it wasn't my fault but I still owe

PHILLY SPECIAL

Philadelphia lawmakers passed Act 43, which will require all tow operators to take a picture of a vehicle before hitching it to the truck.

The bill was signed into law on Monday.

"I think this is the step in the right direction to protect not only the constituents but also the tow companies wrongfully accused of towing vehicles," Stae Representative Jose Giral told the station.

"They create a checks and balance kind of scenario."

What to do if your car is towed

Wrongfully or not, retrieving a towed vehicle can be a hassle.

If your vehicle is towed after parking in a "No Parking" zone or other legitimate reason, there are a few steps to take to get it back.

Steps to take when your car is towed:

Try to figure out why your car was towed. Did you not see a posted "No Parking" sign? Did you miss a car payment? Did you return to a lot where you have unpaid citations? Finding the reason can narrow down the phone numbers to dial.Locate the vehicle. Most states, cities, or counties require towing companies to leave some form of contact information via a posted sign or sent by mail.Recovery dates and times depend on the company that towed the vehicle, but those times will be posted to the website or can be recited by a representative.Pay the fees. Be careful to be as prompt as possible, as some tow yards may charge storage fees by the day.

If you feel your vehicle was wrongfully towed, contesting the action can be done with the following steps:

Be prompt - many states have a small window of time where it's acceptable to file a complaint against a company that wrongfully towed the vehicle.Gather supporting documents: photos, emails, receipts, police reports, and witness statements if applicable. The more evidence, the better.Get familiar with your local laws, as laws for towing companies vary per state.Try speaking with the towing company. Sometimes it may have been a simple oversight, and the matter can be resolved quickly.Contact the Justice of the Peace in your area, as they may have more insight or resources to help. They are often utilized for towing cases.Talk to a lawyer. Many lawyers have free case consultations, and depending on the case, it may be worth it to utilize a lawyer.

Source: Oregon Department of Justice, National General, Rak Law Firm

Several towing companies in the area told the station they already require their employees to take pictures before snatching vehicles.

"It's a pretty simple thing to do," Ed Durning, a tow company owner, told the station.

"I mean, I guess it's good because you're protecting yourself, and that way, there's no discrepancies down the line."

The law will go into effect in September.

But for now, previous laws dictate a towing company's ability to assign parking fines to drivers.

Bathgate said it would have been nice to have a picture of his vehicle before the tow to refute the fine.

He paid the $175 to grab his vehicle because he didn't have the consumer protection.

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