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Posted on: May 2, 2022

Business owners no longer have to wait 5 days to tow abandoned vehicles off property

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BILLINGS – The city’s policy on a waiting period to have vehicles towed from private property was recently revisited by city staff, cutting down the time a business must wait to have a vehicle removed.

Previously, a private business owner had to wait five days before they could contact a towing service, but now, they can do it immediately.

“If the wrecker company chooses not to tow it, and they can’t find a wrecker company to tow it, then they can report it to the Billings Police Department as an abandoned vehicle, and then we will come out and place a five-day sticker on it. After the five days is up, then they can call us back and we will come out and we will tow the vehicle for them,” said Assistant Police Chief Neil Lawrence.

If the Billings Police Department removes the vehicle from the property, the city will incur the cost. But if the business owner contacts a towing company and they’re able to remove the vehicle, it then becomes a civil matter between the private business owner, the tow company, and the vehicle owner.

This procedure actually returns to a previous policy that was in place years ago. The most recent policy was creating problems for private business owners with limited parking.

The city was able to return to the former policy after the Billings Police Department and the City Attorney’s Office revisited interpretation of the state law.

“It was agreed that our initial interpretation was incorrect.  BPD policy will be corrected, and we will not be requiring private property owners to wait the five days if the private property owner wants to have the vehicle towed at their own expense,” said Assistant Chief Lawrence. 

When contacting a tow company, the private business owner can contact any company they want.

If they need to alert the Billings Police Department, they can call dispatch at (406)657-8200.

“They should only turn to the city if a wrecker company isn’t going to tow it,” said Assistant Chief Lawrence.

A volunteer with the Crime Prevention Center will then tag the vehicle with a warning sticker. The vehicle will also be checked to make sure it’s not stolen.

Business owners with questions can contact Assistance Chief Lawrence at (406)657-8460.

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