Towing Laws in Chapel Hill
The excess of motor vehicles in the vicinity of the University creates a particular problem with parking. If you park improperly, your vehicle may be subject to removal and storage, and the costs will be your responsibility. To prevent this from happening to you it is important to be aware of the laws and ordinances that regulate parking in the community.
Parking Restrictions By Chapel Hill Ordinance
The Town of Chapel Hill restricts parking by ordinance and provides for the removal and impounding of vehicles without notice in certain situations. Your vehicle may be towed if it creates a hazard or significant obstruction to the normal movement of traffic, if it blocks a private driveway, if it is within fifteen (15) feet of a fire hydrant or blocks the entrance to a fire station, or if it obstructs a fire lane, bicycle lane, sidewalk, or bus zone or bus stop when buses are in operation. Further, if there is a sign posted restricting parking or indicating a "Tow Zone," and circumstances create a special hazard requiring very prompt removal, your vehicle may be towed. "Overtime Parking," leaving a vehicle parked on a public street unmoved for more than forty-eight (48) hours (a routine student practice), violates a city ordinance but does not permit towing without notice unless the location necessitates prompt removal. Any vehicle left on a public street for longer than 7 days may be considered to be abandoned & subject to towing and impoundment.
Towing From Private Property
Towing of motor vehicles from private property may only be done in specific compliance with North Carolina statute. It is unlawful to park in a private space without the owner's permission provided the private area is clearly designated by a sign at least two feet by two feet in size prominently displayed at the entrance, and the parking spaces are clearly marked by signs naming the owner or lessee. Your vehicle may be removed without notice upon the written request of the owner or lessee of the space and you will be liable for towing and storage costs. This is a criminal statute and must be followed specifically. Thus, if your vehicle is removed where the owner or lessee has not complied with the letter of the law, it will not protect her, and she will be liable for your costs for the recovery of your vehicle. This is because at "common law" (the ancient unwritten law of England, adopted by the United States), "no man had the right to be his own avenger" and to damage or remove another's personal property from his realty. Keep in mind here that this does not mean you may park on someone's property with impunity. There are legal remedies available to them to recover their damages, including seizure of your property (impoundment), charges for storage, or even charges of criminal trespass.
Chapel Hill also has an ordinance that permits the towing or removal of vehicles from certain lots (zoned TC-1 or TC-2 under the Chapel Hill Development Ordinance.) An owner may comply with that ordinance in lieu of following the state statute.
The town ordinance requires notice in the form of a two feet by two feet sign prominently placed on the private property at each access or curb cut allowing vehicular access to the property (or every fifty feet, if there are no curb or access barriers.) The sign with the required notice must be at least six (6) feet above the ground level, but not more than eight (8) feet. The notice must state, in letters at least an inch and a half high, "tow-away" or "tow-away zone" or "towing enforced." In letters at least an inch high, it must state that parking by unauthorized vehicles is prohibited. ("Private property," "Leased parking," "Parking for customers only," or a similar phrase.) If parking is not prohibited on a 24-hour continuous basis, the days of the week and hours of the day during which unauthorized parking is prohibited must be posted.
The telephone number of a person available to release your vehicle must be included in letters at least one-half inch high. Calls to that number must be answered by a person and a person with the authority and ability to release your vehicle must respond to the location of the vehicle within thirty (30) minutes of the call.
As with the state statute, this ordinance, to provide protection for the removing party, must be followed specifically. Thus, if your vehicle is removed where the owner or lessee (or the person who towed the car) has not complied with the letter of the law, it will not protect her, and she will be liable for your costs for the recovery of your vehicle.
Can My Lease Agreement Affect Parking Privileges?
The parking of your vehicle may be affected by contract. If your lease restricts parking and you violate those terms, you may be liable for damages pursuant to breach.Verified June 2011