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Tow truck

The Tow Truck Act 1973 was established to assist in the management of, and set standards for, the crash related towing industry within regulated areas.

In response to rising public concern about the towing of vehicles from private property parking areas, in 2017 the Queensland Government commissioned an independent investigation into the tow truck and vehicle removal industry.  All 22 recommendations made by the independent investigation were accepted and amendments made to the Tow Truck Act 1973 and Tow Truck Regulation 2009. From 16 April 2018 all private property towing in regulated areas of Queensland must be performed by accredited drivers and assistants using licensed tow trucksDrivers and assistants must be employed by licensed tow truck operators. 

The Act provides for the licensing/certification of:

The main purpose of licensing/certifying tow truck licence holders and drivers (including assistants) is to regulate and control the:

  • towing of damaged vehicles from the scene of an incident
  • towing of vehicles seized by police
  • towing of vehicles parked on private property
  • subsequent handling and storage of those vehicles
  • holding of property found in the vehicle, in safe custody, until it can be returned to the vehicle owner
  • maximum fees that may be charged.

The scheme does not regulate vehicle breakdown towing or trade towing.

Regulated areas

The regulated areas for the scheme (both crash relating towing and private property towing) are below.
The scheme operates in the following regulated areas:

  • The Shires of - Beaudesert, Boonah, Caboolture, Esk, Gatton, Kilcoy, Laidley, Maroochy, Noosa, Pine Rivers and Redland.
  • The Cities of - Brisbane, Bundaberg, Cairns, Caloundra, Gold Coast, Hervey Bay, Ipswich, Logan, Mackay, Maryborough, Redcliffe, Rockhampton and Toowoomba.
  • The areas made up of the parishes of:
    • Clement and Hinchinbrook in the county of Gray
    • Beor, Bohle, Coonambelah, Ettrick, Halifax, Hervey, Lansdowne, Magnetic, Margenta, Rokeby, Ross, Stuart and Wyoming in the county of Elphinstone.

Note: For the purpose of the scheme the above pre 15 March 2008 local government areas (pre-amalgamation) are taken as the current regulated areas.

Maximum regulated towing charges

The Tow Truck Regulation 2009, provides the maximum charges that apply to a ‘standard tow’ of a damaged vehicle’ ‘and standard tow of a private property vehicle’ in regulated areas.

Crash towing maximum regulated towing fee (for a standard tow):

  • $361.15—for the first 50km
  • $7.15—for each kilometre over 50km.

Private parking towing maximum regulated fees (for a standard tow):

  • $250.00 - for release from the holding yard,
  • $150.00 - for the onsite release of the vehicle after it is secured ready for towing,
  • $25.00 - per day for storing a private property towed vehicle in the holding yard.

Note: Call-out fees and other fees such as for taking steps to locate the owner, travelling to the place where the vehicle is located, allowing the vehicle owner access to the vehicle at the holding yard (within business hours) and other incidental fees cannot be charged. A property owner and motorist cannot both be charged for towing the vehicle.

A ‘standard tow' includes:

  • 60 minutes working time at a crash scene or private parking area (e.g. loading vehicle on tow truck, cleaning up broken glass and other debris)
  • transportation of the crashed vehicle from the accident to the agreed destination
  • transportation of the private property towed vehicle to the licence holders nearest holding yard
  • 72 hours storage in holding yard (crash and private property towed vehicles).

Legislation

The Tow Truck Act 1973 provides for:

  • licences
  • certificates
  • licence conditions
  • cancellation and suspension of licences and certificates
  • offences
  • criminal history checks.

The Tow Truck Regulation 2009 provides for:

  • obligations of licence and certificates holders
  • records/towing authorities/towing consents
  • storage requirements
  • tow truck specifications
  • maximum towing charges
  • tow truck regulated areas
  • licence and certificate holders' conduct, at scene of a crash, at a private property area and at the holding yard
  • offences.

Criminal history checks

There is broad discretion under the Tow Truck Act 1973 to consider the suitability of an applicant for a tow truck licence or certificate. 

A tow truck licence or certificate will only be granted if the applicant is an appropriate person. 

In assessing whether someone is an appropriate person the following must be declared by the applicant for assessment:

  • any criminal history including: 
    • all charges made against the person regardless of whether charges were withdrawn, discontinued or otherwise not yet finalised by the court
    • all criminal convictions no matter the age of the conviction or whether the conviction has expired under the Criminal Law (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act 1986 

If the applicant is a corporation, the criminal history of each of its executive officers must also be declared.

Overview of tow truck penalties

Description New Penalties Current Penalties

Operating an unlicensed tow truck

Infringement notice

$1,566

$252

Maximum court penalty

$20,888

$5,046

Driving a tow truck without driver accreditation

Infringement notice

$783

$252

Maximum court penalty

$7,833

$5,046

Contravening a condition of a tow truck licence or accreditation
(including not holding an occupier’s approval to remove)

Infringement notice

$652

$252 Offences under TT Act
$504 Offences under TT Regulation

Maximum court penalty

$6,527

$5,046 Offences under TT Act
$2,523 Offences under TT Regulation

Holding a vehicle removed from private property other than at an approved holding yard

Infringement notice

$783

N/A

Maximum court penalty

$7,833

N/A

Charging in excess of regulated fees
(including crash towing fees)

Infringement notice

$652

$504

Maximum court penalty

$6,527

$2,523

Charging more than a reasonable amount where the maximum fees do not apply

Infringement notice

$652

N/A

Maximum court penalty

$6,527

$2,523

Charging a prohibited fee
(business hours viewing, call-out and incidental fees)

Infringement notice

$652

N/A

Maximum court penalty

$6,527

N/A

Obtaining or attempting to obtain a towing consent when not the holder of a licence

Infringement notice

$652

N/A

Maximum court penalty

$6,527

N/A

Failing to carry a towing consent

Infringement notice

$391

N/A

Maximum court penalty

$3,916

N/A

Failing to provide a copy of a towing consent to remove to a motorist

Infringement notice

$391

N/A

Maximum court penalty

$3,916

N/A

Failing to notify police of a vehicle removed from private property

Infringement notice

$391

N/A

Maximum court penalty

$3,916

N/A

Failing to meet conduct requirements in relation to private property towing or at crash scene

Infringement notice

$652*

N/A

Maximum court penalty

$6,527

N/A

Loading a vehicle for a private property tow without taking reasonable steps to locate the motorist or where the motorist is willing to move the vehicle

Infringement notice

-

N/A

Maximum court penalty

$6,527

$2,523

Failing to meet additional conduct requirements at the scene of a crash

Infringement notice

-

N/A

Maximum court penalty

$6,527

$2,523

Disclosing information other than to a permitted person

Infringement notice

$652

$504

Maximum court penalty

$6,527

$2,523

Towing a vehicle from private property other than to the nearest holding yard by the most direct route

Infringement notice

-

N/A

Maximum court penalty

$2,611

N/A

Licence holder fail to keep records

Infringement notice

$261

$252

Maximum court penalty

$2,611

$2,523

Fail to release vehicle before loading onto tow truck is finished

Infringement notice

-

N/A

Maximum court penalty

$6,527

N/A

Fail to tell vehicle owner vehicle may be released on payment of on-site release fee

Infringement notice

$391

N/A

Maximum court penalty

$2,611

N/A

Fail to release vehicle on payment of on-site release fee

Infringement notice

$652

N/A

Maximum court penalty

$6,527

N/A

Licence holder fail to give vehicle owner notice of charges for outside business hours viewing

Infringement notice

$652

N/A

Maximum court penalty

$6,527

N/A

Licence holder fail to keep property found in towed vehicle in safe custody

Infringement notice

-

$252

Maximum court penalty

$2,611

$2,523

*An infringement notice is available for abusing or insulting a person at the scene of a crash or private property tow.

The Tow Truck Act 1973 and the Tow Truck Regulation 2009 legislation can be found on the Office of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel website.

Private property parking and towing

Private property parking signage guidelines

Appropriate signage is integral to the lawful removal of vehicles from private property. It is recommended that property owners and occupiers provide fair notice to motorists in the form of signage, before arrangements are made for unauthorised vehicles to be towed from the property. This may reduce the risk of litigation brought against occupiers in the case of an unlawful removal.

Clear, highly visible signs with comprehensive information are important to establish the legal basis to have vehicles removed, and may in fact reduce the need to remove any vehicles if motorists understand where they can and cannot park and on what conditions.

To assist private property owners and occupiers with how to provide clear signage, guidance on the recommended signage at private property parking locations is provided below.

Private Property Signage Guideline

Towing industry investigation

On 14 May 2017 the Queensland Government announced an independent investigation into the removal of parked vehicles from publicly accessible private car parks and roads by tow truck operators.

The Queensland Government publicly released the report on 6 August 2017 and the government’s response on 8 August 2017.

All 22 recommendations made by the independent investigation were accepted. The changes were endorsed by the Queensland Parliament for commencement from 16 April 2018.

Tow truck hotline

Ring 1800 681 636 to provide the department with information about tow truck operator towing practices. 

Hot spot areas

Calls to the tow truck hotline, between 8 May 2017 and 14 April 2018, identified a number of hotspots in the Brisbane and Gold Coast regions.

View maps of the hotspots in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Last updated
06 July 2018