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Tow truck scheme

Following an independent investigation, new legislation was introduced on 18 April 2018 that regulated private property towing. This was in response to growing community concerns about the then unregulated private property towing practices.

TMR committed to a review of the new legislation within 2 years. As a result, a Post Implementation Review was conducted.

Consultation was open for public comment from 28 October 2019 to 1 December 2019. Many Queenslanders had their say on the tow truck scheme and your views were thoroughly considered by TMR.

The review identified that private property towing reforms have achieved their intended objectives by introducing protection for motorists, with a reduced potential for exploitation. They have delivered a clear legislative framework for fair private property towing practices.

It is recognised that by regulating a previously unregulated industry, additional impost was created for business. However, the reforms have stuck a balance for industry, motorists and private property owners/occupiers.

Complaints have decreased and towing companies continue to provide a valuable service to the community.

Government endorsed the Post Implementation Review on 7 February 2022.

Public consultation and the Post Implementation Review also highlighted a number of proposed additional reforms relating to regulated areas and fees. Analysis and consultation on these matters is ongoing. A recommendation is expected to be provided to government in the first half of 2022.

Read the Post Implementation Review.

Tow truck scheme

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.

On this page:

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):

  • $391.90—for the first 50km
  • $7.80—for each kilometre over 50km.

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

  • $271.25—for release from the holding yard,
  • $162.75—for the onsite release of the vehicle after it is secured ready for towing,
  • $27.10—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 Current Penalties
Operating an unlicensed tow truck Infringement notice $1,725
Maximum court penalty $22,880
Driving a tow truck without driver accreditation Infringement notice $862
Maximum court penalty $8,580
Contravening a condition of a tow truck licence or accreditation
(including not holding an occupier's approval to remove)
Infringement notice $718
Maximum court penalty $7,150
Holding a vehicle removed from private property other than at an approved holding yard Infringement notice $862
Maximum court penalty $8,580
Charging in excess of regulated fees
(including crash towing fees)
Infringement notice $718
Maximum court penalty $7,150
Charging more than a reasonable amount where the maximum fees do not apply Infringement notice $718
Maximum court penalty $7,150
Charging a prohibited fee
(business hours viewing, call-out and incidental fees)
Infringement notice $718
Maximum court penalty $7,150
Obtaining or attempting to obtain a towing consent when not the holder of a licence Infringement notice $718
Maximum court penalty $7,150
Failing to carry a towing consent Infringement notice $431
Maximum court penalty $4,290
Failing to provide a copy of a towing consent to remove to a motorist Infringement notice $431
Maximum court penalty $4,290
Failing to notify police of a vehicle removed from private property Infringement notice $431
Maximum court penalty $4,290
Failing to meet conduct requirements in relation to private property towing or at crash scene Infringement notice $718*
Maximum court penalty $7,150
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
Maximum court penalty $7,150
Failing to meet additional conduct requirements at the scene of a crash Infringement notice
Maximum court penalty $7,150
Disclosing information other than to a permitted person Infringement notice $718
Maximum court penalty $7,150
Towing a vehicle from private property other than to the nearest holding yard by the most direct route Infringement notice
Maximum court penalty $2,860
Licence holder fail to keep records Infringement notice $287
Maximum court penalty $2,860
Fail to release vehicle before loading onto tow truck is finished Infringement notice
Maximum court penalty $7,150
Fail to tell vehicle owner vehicle may be released on payment of on-site release fee Infringement notice $431
Maximum court penalty $4,290
Fail to release vehicle on payment of on-site release fee Infringement notice $718
Maximum court penalty $7,150
Licence holder fail to give vehicle owner notice of charges for outside business hours viewing Infringement notice $718
Maximum court penalty $7,150
Licence holder fail to keep property found in towed vehicle in safe custody Infringement notice $287
Maximum court penalty $2,860

*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.

Get involved

The department has commenced a review of these changes.

Consultation has now closed on the discussion paper and responses are being considered. These responses will help shape Queensland's tow truck scheme, including private property towing.

Complaints, infringement notices and audits conducted

Recommendation 19 of the independent investigation report requires information about complaints, infringement notices and audits conducted to be published on the department’s website every 6 months.

Tow truck hotline

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

Private property towing hot spot areas

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

View maps of the hot spots in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

For comparison, hot spots identified in the Brisbane and Gold Coast regions in the period since the Tow Truck reforms were implemented on 16 April 2018, until 15 April 2021, are included in the maps below.

16 April 2018 until 15 April 2019

16 April 2019 until 30 September 2019

1 October 2019 until 15 April 2020

16 April 2020 until 30 September 2020

1 October 2020 until 15 April 2021

16 April 2021 until 30 September 2021

Last updated
28 June 2022

Fee increase

On 1 July 2022 our fees and charges increased by 2.5% in line with the government's indexation policy.