RALEIGH, N.C. — A new ordinance against predatory towing takes effect in Raleigh on Thursday.
Predatory towing means your car has been towed without your consent, excluding orders that come from the city or police. If that happens, the new ordinance gives you more ways to get your car back faster and cheaper.
The signs warning people not to park in Raleigh's downtown private lots make it clear what will happen if you do. Your errand may be quick, but tow trucks can be even quicker.
"It took four minutes to get my order. Before I could walk out the door, my car was out of the drive, up the road and gone,' Pan Hopkins said.
The Raleigh City Council has fielded complaints by people who have parked illegally. They said they have had to pay as much as $125 to get their cars back.
The new ordinance means you cannot be charged more than $100 for tows without consent.
The ordinance also requires tow truck operators to accept credit or debit cards.
If you return to your car before the tow truck leaves the lot, you can get your car back for a charge up to $50.
Tow impound lots now have to have an attendant on site 24 hours a day. That way, someone can respond to drivers' calls within 15 minutes and release their vehicles within 45 minutes of the request.
The ordinance also requires towing companies to notify police within an hour of tows made without consent.
Another change -- towing companies can no longer charge you for removing your personal property from your towed car.