City of Oxford ends predatory vehicle towing

Published 10:15 am Thursday, May 9, 2024

The city of Oxford is putting a stop to predatory vehicle towing practices in Oxford with the passage of a new ordinance.

During a public hearing in April, several people spoke out against and in favor of the then-proposed ordinance. On Tuesday, the Board voted unanimously to put the ordinance into law, which will go into effect in 30 days.

The ordinance was developed after the mayor and aldermen received many complaints from parents of the University of Mississippi students, visitors to Oxford and local residents about the predatory practices of some local towing companies; unknown and changing fees; no signs at apartment complexes explaining rules; and other complaints.

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The ordinance does allow any vehicle to be towed from a public street without authorization from a law enforcement officer, the owner of the vehicle or the authorized driver of the vehicle.

Before a vehicle could be towed from private property, the ordinance requires the towing company to obtain a request from the property owner or an authorized employee. In addition to the tow company maintaining a record of who authorized each tow, the property owner must maintain records of every vehicle towed from their property. The tow service’s records and the property owner’s records must be made available for inspection by the Oxford Police Department upon request.

The ordinance also makes it illegal for a towing company to pay a property owner in return for permission to tow a vehicle.

All towing vehicles will be required to have a license and insurance coverage – comprehensive liability with limits not less than $750,000; $25,000 on-hook coverage per vehicle and Garage Keepers liability insurance of $25,000 per location.

The ordinance also requires property owners to post clear and visible signage that is not less than 24×24 inches in size.

The ordinance also sets the maximum rate for towing from private property at $250 for a light-duty vehicle and $45 for each day the vehicle remains in storage. The towing companies cannot charge a storage fee for a vehicle unless they have had it in storage for at least 24 hours. The towing company must keep any towed vehicles in its impound lot for 10 days. It can be moved to a facility outside of the city limits, but within Lafayette County, after 10 days; however, the company cannot charge any relocation fees.

Any towing service must report that they towed a vehicle to the Oxford Police Department within one hour of towing the vehicle.

Read the entire approved ordinance on the city’s website by clicking here.