4513.601 [Effective Until 4/6/2017] Private tow-away zones.

(A) The owner of private property may establish a private tow-away zone, but may do so only if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

(1) The owner posts on the owner's property a sign, that is at least eighteen inches by twenty-four inches in size, that is visible from all entrances to the property, and that includes all of the following information:

(a) A statement that the property is a tow-away zone;

(b) A description of persons authorized to park on the property. If the property is a residential property, the owner of the private property may include on the sign a statement that only tenants and guests may park in the private tow-away zone, subject to the terms of the property owner. If the property is a commercial property, the owner of the private property may include on the sign a statement that only customers may park in the private tow-away zone. In all cases, if it is not apparent which persons may park in the private tow-away zone, the owner shall include on the sign the address of the property on which the private tow-away zone is located or the name of the business that is located on the property designated as a private tow-away zone.

(c) If the private tow-away zone is not enforceable at all times, the times during which the parking restrictions are enforced;

(d) The telephone number and the address of the place from which a towed vehicle may be recovered at any time during the day or night;

(e) A statement that the failure to recover a towed vehicle may result in the loss of title to the vehicle as provided in division (B) of section 4505.101 of the Revised Code.

Any owner of property that has been established as a private tow-away zone under section 4513.60 of the Revised Code as that section existed prior to March 23, 2015, who does not have a contract with a towing service for the removal of vehicles from the property may retain existing private tow-away zone signs that comply with that section for up to six months after March 23, 2015. At any time, in order to comply with the requirements of division (B)(1) of this section, such a property owner may modify the existing sign by affixing to the existing sign stickers or an addendum in lieu of replacing the sign.

(2) A towing service ensures that a vehicle towed under this section is taken to a location from which it may be recovered that complies with all of the following:

(a) It is located within twenty linear miles of the location of the private tow-away zone, unless it is not practicable to take the vehicle to a place of storage within twenty linear miles.

(b) It is well-lighted.

(c) It is on or within a reasonable distance of a regularly scheduled route of one or more modes of public transportation, if any public transportation is available in the municipal corporation or township in which the private tow-away zone is located.

(B)

(1) If a vehicle is parked on private property that is established as a private tow-away zone in accordance with division (A) of this section, without the consent of the owner of the property or in violation of any posted parking condition or regulation, the owner may cause the removal of the vehicle by a towing service. The towing service shall remove the vehicle in accordance with this section. The vehicle owner and the operator of the vehicle are considered to have consented to the removal and storage of the vehicle, to the payment of the applicable fees established under division (G) of this section, and to the right of a towing service to obtain title to the vehicle if it remains unclaimed as provided in section 4505.101 of the Revised Code. The owner or lienholder of a vehicle that has been removed under this section, subject to division (C) of this section, may recover the vehicle in accordance with division (G) of this section.

(2) If a municipal corporation requires tow trucks and tow truck operators to be licensed, no owner of private property located within the municipal corporation shall cause the removal and storage of any vehicle pursuant to division (B) of this section by an unlicensed tow truck or unlicensed tow truck operator.

(C) If the owner or operator of a vehicle that is being removed under authority of division (B) of this section arrives after the vehicle has been prepared for removal, but prior to its actual removal from the property, the towing service shall give the vehicle owner or operator oral or written notification at the time of such arrival that the vehicle owner or operator may pay a fee of not more than one-half of the fee for the removal of the vehicle established under division (G) of this section in order to obtain release of the vehicle. Upon payment of that fee, the towing service shall give the vehicle owner or operator a receipt showing both the full amount normally assessed and the actual amount received and shall release the vehicle to the owner or operator. Upon its release, the owner or operator immediately shall move the vehicle so that the vehicle is not parked on the private property established as a private tow-away zone without the consent of the owner or in violation of any posted parking condition or regulation.

(D)

(1) Prior to towing a vehicle under division (B) of this section, a towing service shall make all reasonable efforts to take as many photographs as necessary to evidence that the vehicle is clearly parked on private property in violation of a private tow-away zone established under division (A) of this section.

The towing service shall record the time and date of the photographs taken under this section. The towing service shall retain the photographs and the record of the time and date, in electronic or printed form, for at least thirty days after the date on which the vehicle is recovered by the owner or lienholder or at least two years after the date on which the vehicle was towed, whichever is earlier.

(2) A towing service shall deliver a vehicle towed under division (B) of this section to the location from which it may be recovered not more than two hours after the time it was removed from the private tow-away zone.

(E)

(1) If an owner of private property that is established as a private tow-away zone in accordance with division (A) of this section causes the removal of a vehicle from that property by a towing service under division (B) of this section, the towing service, within two hours of removing the vehicle, shall provide notice to the sheriff of the county or the police department of the municipal corporation, township, or township or joint police district in which the property is located concerning all of the following:

(a) The vehicle's license number, make, model, and color;

(b) The location from which the vehicle was removed;

(c) The date and time the vehicle was removed;

(d) The telephone number of the person from whom the vehicle may be recovered;

(e) The address of the place from which the vehicle may be recovered.

(2) Each county sheriff and each chief of police of a municipal corporation, township, or township or joint police district shall maintain a record of any vehicle removed from private property in the sheriff's or chief's jurisdiction that is established as a private tow-away zone of which the sheriff or chief has received notice under this section. The record shall include all information submitted by the towing service. The sheriff or chief shall provide any information in the record that pertains to a particular vehicle to a person who, either in person or pursuant to a telephone call, identifies self as the owner, operator, or lienholder of the vehicle and requests information pertaining to the vehicle.

(F)

(1) When a vehicle is removed from private property in accordance with this section, the owner of the towing service or storage facility from which the vehicle may be recovered shall immediately cause a search to be made of the records of the bureau of motor vehicles to ascertain the identity of the owner and any lienholder of the motor vehicle. Subject to division (F)(4) of this section, the owner of the towing service or storage facility shall send notice to the vehicle owner and any known lienholder as follows:

(a) Within five business days of removal of the vehicle from the private tow-away zone, if the vehicle has not yet been recovered, to the owner's and lienholder's last known address by certified or express mail with return receipt requested or by a commercial carrier service utilizing any form of delivery requiring a signed receipt;

(b) If the vehicle remains unclaimed thirty days after the first notice is sent, in the manner authorized in division (F)(1)(a) of this section;

(c) If the vehicle remains unclaimed forty-five days after the first notice is sent, in the manner authorized in division (F)(1)(a) of this section.

(2) Sixty days after any notice sent pursuant to division (F)(1) of this section is received, as evidenced by a receipt signed by any person, or the towing service or storage facility has been notified that delivery was not possible, the owner of a towing service or storage facility, if authorized under division (B) of section 4505.101 of the Revised Code, may initiate the process for obtaining a certificate of title to the motor vehicle as provided in that section.

(3) A towing service or storage facility that does not receive a signed receipt of notice, or a notification that delivery was not possible, shall not obtain, and shall not attempt to obtain, a certificate of title to the motor vehicle under division (B) of section 4505.101 of the Revised Code.

(4) With respect to a vehicle concerning which a towing service or storage facility is not eligible to obtain title under section 4505.101 of the Revised Code, the towing service or storage facility need only comply with the initial notice required under division (F)(1)(a) of this section.

(G)

(1) The owner or lienholder of a vehicle that is removed under division (B) of this section may reclaim it upon all of the following:

(a) Presentation of proof of ownership, which may be evidenced by a certificate of title to the vehicle, a certificate of registration for the motor vehicle, or a lease agreement;

(b) Payment of the following fees:

(i) Not more than ninety dollars for the removal of the vehicle. However, if the vehicle has a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating in excess of ten thousand pounds and is a truck, bus, or a combination of a commercial tractor and trailer or semitrailer, not more than one hundred fifty dollars for the removal.

(ii) Not more than twelve dollars per twenty-four-hour period for the storage of the vehicle. However, if the vehicle has a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating in excess of ten thousand pounds and is a truck, bus, or a combination of a commercial tractor and trailer or semitrailer, not more than twenty dollars per twenty-four-hour period for storage.

(iii) If notice has been sent to the owner and lienholder as described in division (F) of this section, a processing fee of twenty-five dollars.

(2) A towing service or storage facility in possession of a vehicle that is removed under authority of division (B) of this section shall show the vehicle owner, operator, or lienholder who contests the removal of the vehicle all photographs taken under division (D) of this section. Upon request, the towing service or storage facility shall provide copies of all photographs in the medium in which the photographs are stored, whether paper, electronic, or otherwise.

(3) Upon presentation of proof of ownership, which may be evidenced by a certificate of title to the vehicle, a certificate of registration for the motor vehicle, or a lease agreement, the owner of a vehicle that is removed under authority of division (B) of this section may retrieve any personal items from the vehicle without retrieving the vehicle and without paying any fee. For purposes of division (G)(3) of this section, "personal items" do not include any items that are attached to the vehicle.

(H) No towing service or storage facility shall remove, or cause the removal of, any vehicle from private property that is established as a private tow-away zone under this section, store such a vehicle other than in accordance with this section, or otherwise fail to comply with any applicable requirement of this section.

(I) This section does not affect or limit the operation of section 4513.60 or sections 4513.61 to 4613.65 of the Revised Code as they relate to property other than private property that is established as a private tow-away zone under division (A) of this section.

(J) The owner of any towing service or storage facility or property owner that violates division (H) of this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor.

Amended by 131st General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 53, §101.01, eff. 7/1/2015.

Added by 130th General Assembly File No. TBD, SB 274, §1, eff. 3/23/2015.

Note: This section is set out twice. See also § 4513.601 , as amended by 131st General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 341, §1, eff. 4/6/2017.