A reasonable tow by police in California?

    My son attended a party in an East Bay town in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The police were called due to a disturbing the peace and they closed down the party.  My son was sober and was actually the designated driver for a few friends.  I don't condone underage drinking, but I also feel that designated drivers of any age should not be taken off the road.  When the police arrived, my son's car was parked on the main road and his tires where two inches into the fog line.  When the police arrived, it was an unattended vehicle.  However, my son was with his vehicle before the police called tow truck arrived.  He spoke to three officers, respectfully offering to move his vehicle, they refused to let him and the three boxed his car in until it could be hooked up to the tow truck.  He actually gave them his keys to assist in that process.

    My view is that there was an infraction and it should have been a citation, there was no reasonable cause to tow the vehicle, it was attended, my son was sober, the car had no defects and was properly registered.  The cost of the tow/storage, etc. was around $500.  I spoke to the Sergeant.  He was cited under section (b) of the California Vehicle Code Section 22650.  The code relates to an UNATTENDED vehicle.  It is interesting to note that sections (c) and (d) - parking in front of a driveway or fire hydrant - have a "practical" standard prior to a tow - can the owner be located, etc.   His view was that it was unattended upon arrival by his officers.  His view was also that they can't turn a blind-eye to a violation.  It seems to me that the citation/fine should be the "penalty" not the towing of the vehicle.  It would seem reasonable that the towing should only be done if there is no practical way to correct the obstruction referenced in section (b).  I said if two inches into the fog line was such a serious consideration, they should consider moving the fog line out six to twelve inches.

    I feel the tow was an impractical and a overreaching solution to clear an obstruction (two inches into the fog line is not a reasonable obstruction).  My son could have received a citation and then driven away - clearing the obstruction.  I did also discuss the fact the danger associated with removing a designated driver vehicle and the potential liability.  I would have rather seen them focus on open containers related to underage drinkers and checking sobriety of drivers leaving the party.

    My son was very respectful and talked to all three officers.  He even talked to the tow truck driver who told him they were told the car was stolen?  (police deny this)  My son showed proof of registration.  This seems very fishy to me, like there is some form of financial gain motivation?  The ticket for a violation is $65, but with the tow it is $134.  I'm wondering if this is a revenue source for the town?  I'd hate to think that there was some personal financial arrangement between the towing company and one or more of the police officers.  Something just doesn't seem right.  I will be talking to the Chief of Police next week.  Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.

    +2  Views: 1394 Answers: 2 Posted: 10 years ago

    2 Answers

    My suggestion would be to take pictures of where the car was parked so you have a visual frame of reference.  I would also talk to the tow truck driver and ascertain precisely what the dispatcher was told when summoned by the police.  I would have my son write as detailed a memory of what happened as possible, and have him be very familiar with his facts so he never deviates from the truth. 

    You may wish to file a complaint against the officers following your meeting, so make sure YOU have written clearly what your complaint would say.  In the meeting, I would not talk about the party and underaged drinking.  I would question the point of having the car towed when it was properly registered, the driver was in attendance, was sober, and was courteous. 

    YES.  Whenever a tow truck is used by the police, there is financial gain for the city/county and the police department.  Obviously, tow companies gain, and in our area, vie for the privilege of being the tow service on duty. There is actually a rotation.  Point out the cost of the whole thing has so far exceeded $600 and shouldn't have cost more than a citation that probably didn't need to be written in the first place. 

    I, too, would be consulting an attorney, as this whole thing, accepting your words as "gospel" seems prejudicial, discriminatory, and excessive.  GOOD LUCK.  I respect the job police are supposed to do and the ones who perform with integrity.  There appears to be some question about the ones in this circumstance. Did one of them look like this guy:



    The police will not tow a vehicle with a person in the car who cannot walk and are under age or elderly-disabled from my experience. I don't think they will tow a vehicle if you lock yourself in the vehicle and refuse to open or unlock a door.  This really calls for a comedic video test series...Candid Camera. 

    Top contributors in Law Enforcement & Police category

    Answers: 66 / Questions: 0
    Karma: 3975
    Answers: 117 / Questions: 0
    Karma: 2775
    Answers: 4 / Questions: 0
    Karma: 2515
    Answers: 53 / Questions: 2
    Karma: 2490
    > Top contributors chart

    Unanswered Questions

    Answers: 0 Views: 3 Rating: 0
    DA88 CLUB
    Answers: 0 Views: 7 Rating: 0
    Answers: 0 Views: 10 Rating: 0
    Answers: 0 Views: 8 Rating: 0
    Answers: 0 Views: 11 Rating: 0
    Answers: 0 Views: 7 Rating: 0
    Answers: 0 Views: 11 Rating: 0
    Answers: 0 Views: 9 Rating: 0
    > More questions...