Non-Consensual Towing Permit - Frequently Asked Questions


Q1. Is "non-consensual" towing the same as "private property trespass" towing?
A. Yes. Non-consensual towing is the act of towing vehicles improperly parked or trespassing on private property, at the request of the property owner or their authorized agent, without prior consent or authorization of the owner or operator of the vehicle.
Q2. Are all wrecker services required to apply for a Non-Consensual Towing (NCT) permit?
A. No. Only wrecker services engaged in private property trespass towing operations from private property are required to obtain a permit. Private property is all property that is not Government property. Government property is streets, highways, military locations and property with government buildings.

Although all wrecker services are not required to apply for a NCT permit there are only two exceptions for not applying, as follows:
  1. The wrecker company only performs towing with the vehicle owner or operator's consent.
  2. Companies that perform tows that are an extension of lawful law enforcement activity and who do not otherwise perform nonconsensual tows from private property are not required to possess an NCT Permit.
Q3. Can I apply for a NCT Permit if I don't have a secure impoundment facility?
A. No. Each wrecker service must either own or lease a secure impoundment facility.
Q4. What is the definition of a "secure" impoundment facility?
A. The impoundment facility must be fenced with a minimum of six (6) feet fencing, lighted and equipped with a lock or enclosed building. The impoundment facility must be located in the same County as the tow service office unless otherwise approved by the Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Q5. How do I apply for a Non-consensual permit?
A. Submit a notarized application along with the $300.00 application fee and a copy of a current certificate of insurance for your company. Please find the application form and instructions, under forms at this web page.
Q6. The city that I'm based in issues non-consensual permits; can I obtain a permit from them instead of the GA DPS?
A. No. O.C.G.A. §44-1-13 requires that towing and storage firms operating within a municipality's corporate limits shall obtain a nonconsensual towing permit from DPS and shall file its registered agent's name and address with DPS.
Q7. What is the Non-consensual Towing Maximum Rate Tariff?
A. A Maximum Rate Tariff is schedule of rates and charges prescribed (set) by the Georgia Department of Public Safety for towing and storage of trespassing vehicles.
Q8. When can I charge storage fees?
A. Storage fees cannot be charged for the first 24 hour period, beginning at the time the vehicle is removed from the property. Storage charges may apply for each day after the first 24-hours that the vehicle is available to be redeemed. Storage charges cannot apply for days the business is closed and not accessible for the vehicle owner to redeem the vehicle.
Q9. Am I required to allow the vehicle owner to go on the impound lot to:
(1) Inspect the vehicle prior to redeeming it?
A. The insurance provider limits access to the impound lot to the insured, employees, certificate holder or additional insured. There are no laws mandating the allowance of an inspection of a vehicle prior to redeeming it. However GA Code 40-11-7(d) makes it a misdemeanor for any person who abandons a derelict vehicle and upon conviction shall pay a fine not to exceed $500.00 and payment of all costs of having such derelict motor vehicle removed, stored, and sold as provided for in this code section.
(2) Remove belongings from the vehicle?
A. Most insurance policies limit or restrict access to the impound lot to employees and certificate holder or additional insured. There are no laws that mandate allowing the vehicle owner access to the vehicle, however, our requirements are that the owner, upon presenting acceptable proof of ownership be allowed at least one opportunity to retrieve personal items not attached to the vehicle.
Q10. How many times do I have to allow some one access to their vehicle to retrieve personal items?
A. There are no laws or rules setting limitations on the number of times a tow service must allow an owner access to the impounded vehicle. However, the owner, upon presenting acceptable proof of ownership, should be allowed at least one opportunity to retrieve personal items not attached in any way to the vehicle. The required Garage Keepers Liability Insurance in most instances restricts access to the impound area to owner and employees of the company and listed certificate holders. In these cases other arrangements for retrieval of personal property should be made. With permission from the owner or agent and a key provided by the owner, the tow service may use a list provided by the vehicle owner and remove those items from the vehicle and give to the owner. It is recommended that the owner sign for receipt of these items; or with permission from the owner or agent and a key from the owner, the tow service may pull the car to the public parking area and allow the owner to remove the personal items; once again it is recommended the owner sign for receipt of these items.

No owner should remove items from the vehicle with the express intention of knowingly abandoning the vehicle. In Georgia knowingly abandoning a vehicle is subject to a mis-demeanor violation
Q11. Can I pick up a trespassing vehicle if a notice has not been posted on the property?
A. No. Signs must be posted for at least 24 hours before any trespassing vehicles can be removed from the property.
Q12. Are there any exceptions to the sign requirements?
A. Yes. The sign requirements do not apply to owner(s) of private residential property containing not more than four residential units.
Q13. What information is required to be listed on the posted notice?
A. Signs must be posted at each designated entrance and each sign must contain the following information:
  • Warning that unauthorized vehicles will be towed at the owner's expense
  • Wrecker service name, address, and telephone number
  • Towing fees and daily storage fees
  • Hours of Operation
  • Method of payment (Cannot be "Cash" Only)
If there is no designated entrance the signs must be six feet above site grade. The signs must be a minimum of 12 by 18 inches and shall be posted so as to be clearly visible from each and every parking space.
Q14. Can I charge a fee if the owner or operator of vehicle returns before I leave the property?
A. No fee may be charged if the trespassing vehicle has not been hooked with the hoisting apparatus or loaded by the wrecker service and the operator can produce the ignition key and immediately remove the vehicle from the property. A wrecker service may charge up to $50.00 for vehicles under 20,000 GVWR or $100.00 for vehicles over 20,000 GVWR if the trespassing vehicle has been hooked or loaded but has not been removed from the private property.
Q15. Is it legal to provide an automatic surveillance or patrol surveillance service to remove trespassing vehicles?
A. No. Automatic surveillance is strictly prohibited and punishable by a fine of $1,000.00. The property owner or their agent must contact the wrecker service and be present to sign the tow ticket for each individual case of trespass. It is unlawful to enter into any agreement with a property owner to provide automatic surveillance.
Q16. Am I required to issue a special invoice for my non-consensual tows?
A. No. You may use your current invoice or receipt as long as it includes the following information:
  • Wrecker service's name, address, and telephone number.
  • Specifies that the tow was a non-consensual tow from private property at the property owner's request.
  • List the property from which the vehicle was towed.
  • List all charges for towing and storage of the vehicle.
  • Identifies the vehicle by VIN #, make & model, color and tag number.
  • Is signed by both the vehicle's owner and the attendant releasing the vehicle.
Q17. Am I required to have a contract with the private property owners that I tow for?
A. Yes. You are required to have a contract with each property owner. The contract must include the following information:
  • Wrecker service's name, address, and telephone number.
  • Location of the impoundment facility.
  • Wrecker service hours of operation.
  • Cost for removal of the vehicle.
  • Charges for storage of towed vehicle.
  • Contract must be signed by the owner or authorized agent for property owner.
Q18. Am I required to have a non-consensual towing permit if I am on a Law Enforcement rotation or call out list and that is the only form of towing I do?
A. Yes. Unless the tow that is being performed meets the following condition:

Tows that are an extension of lawful law enforcement activity and who do not otherwise perform nonconsensual tows from private property would not be required to get a NCT permit.


Why? OCGA 44-1-13 specifies ...

"(a.1)...Only towing and storage firms issued permits or licenses by the local governing authority of the jurisdiction in which they operate or by the Commissioner (of Public Safety), and having a secure impoundment facility, shall be permitted to remove trespassing property and trespassing personal property at the request of the owner or authorized agent of the private property."

"(d)(1) In addition to the regulatory jurisdiction of the commission, the governing authority of each municipality having towing and storage firms operating within its territorial boundaries may require and issue a license or permit to engage in private trespass towing within its corporate municipal limits pursuant to this Code section to any firm meeting the qualifications imposed by said governing authority..."

"(2) Towing and storage firms operating within a municipality's corporate limits shall obtain a nonconsensual towing permit from the commissioner and shall file its registered agent's name and address with the commissioner."


Based on the above, any towing compny performing nonconsensual tows of trespassing vehicles from private property at the property owner's request, SHALL obtain a permit from the Department. This rule applies even where the tow takes place within municipality (city limits).

The Department of Public Safety has the ultimate authority on nonconsensual tows from private property of trespassing vehicles that the property owner requests be moved; a municipality (city) merely gets concurrent jurisdiction in addition to the Department's, so as to require an ADDIITONAL permit/fee, allow lower rates, or require higher cargo insurance limits on tow companies operating wholly within the city's limits.
Q19. Can I operate my tow service office from my residence?
A. If the residence meets the office Requirements, as well as the requirements for records and reports, and:
  1. The office must maintain normal business hours for both public access and access by the Department. Please note: The Department does not make appointments.

  2. The vehicle owner cannot be required to call ahead. They may come by anytime during normal business hours to redeem their vehicle.

  3. The normal business hours and lunch hour must be posted.
  4. The wrecker service must have a listed public business telephone number.
  5. The records shall be maintained at a location where the Department's representative may review in person during normal business hours.
Q20. What are the Non-Consensual Towing Insurance requirements?
A. The Georgia Department of Public Safety requires all NCT permitted tow service operators to maintain Public Liability and Property Damage Insurance in the following minimum amounts:
  • $100,000 limit for bodily injury to or death of one person
  • $300,000 limit for bodily injuries to or death of total persons in one accident
  • $50,000 loss or damage in any one accident to property of others

NOTE: A Combined Single Limit policy with minimum coverage of one-million dollars may be accepted in lieu of the above. All insurance filings must be in the form of a Certificate of liability Insurance. A Form E is not acceptable. The Certificate must show the Georgia Department of Public Safety as Certificate Holder.
  • Garage Keeper's Legal Liability minimum amount of $50,000 for Garage Keeper’s legal Liability minimum amount of $50,000 for coverage of the stored vehicles and contents.
 
If you have additional questions, please contact us.