NC Ct of Appeals: Town can institute reasonable towing regs to protect health, safety and welfare of residents and visitors

Today the North Carolina Court of Appeals reversed a trial court ruling from last year that placed an injunction on Chapel Hill's ability to enforce its Towing from Private Lots Ordinance.  The law requires signage, provides for limits on fees, and requires multiple forms of payment be accepted by the towing company.  This is a big victory, not only for Chapel Hill, but for every community in North Carolina that regulates this kind of activity (Durham, Raleigh, Asheville, Charlotte, to name a few).  It is especially welcomed following last year's NC Supreme Court decision in Lanvale v. Cabarrus County that had county and municipal officials concerned about how far local governments could go in implementing local ordinances to protect its citizens.  (Not to mention the War on Cities the Gen Assembly has been fighting for the last several years).  Here's a link to the decision.  Very interesting read.

In other news, the Court decided to punt on the question of Chapel Hill's ban on cell phone use while driving.  The Court explained that since there was no "case" (since King hasn't actually received a citation), and since King was facing no imminent harm, it wasn't ripe for decision. 



I have mixed feelings about the cell phone ban, but maybe so does the court. I'm very glad to hear they upheld the ability to limit predatory towing practices. Congratulations, Mark and the rest of the Town.

This is an important opinion for Chapel Hill and all North Carolina municipalities, not only with regard to towing, but also for the general question of municipal authority in this state.Anyway, here's a primer on towing rules in the Town of Carrboro:

  • The towing company may not charge more than $100 for the towing of your car.
  • The towing company may not charge more than $20 per day for the storage of your car.
  • The towing company may not begin charging for the storage of your car until 24 hours after towing the car.
  • The towing company must accept payment by major credit/debit card or cash.

To learn more, read page 8-32 of the Carrboro Town Code at

The town will be sending a letter this week to local businesses explaining the towing rules. If a towing company tells you something inconsistent with the rules above, please contact the town manager at

An in-depth look at the ruling the Court of Appeals handed down here.

Via a town email...

Update: The Town of Chapel Hill is temporarily restricted from enforcing its towing ordinance. George's Towing and Recovery on June 24, 2013, filed paperwork to seek review by the NC Supreme Court of the decision of the NC Court of Appeals. The N.C. Supreme Court on June 25, 2013, entered a temporary stay order. This order stops the enforcement of the Court of Appeals decision and reinstates the injunction against the Town's towing ordinance pending the Supreme Court's further consideration. 

Stark will keep fighting as long as George will keep paying. At some point George will run out of money.


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