“Going after bad operators:” New city ordinance to regulate towing companies, thanks to FOX6!

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MILWAUKEE -- Please don't tow my car! It's a plea many drivers have made over the years after parking somewhere they should't have. Now, a new city ordinance will allow you to stop your vehicle from being towed for $50! And Milwaukee Common Council President Michael Murphy says it's a FOX6 investigation that made this happen.

Milwaukee Common Council Licensing Committee watches Bryan Polcyn's report

Milwaukee Common Council Licensing Committee watches Bryan Polcyn's report

Over the past seven months, FOX6 has shown how a new state law cut police out of the private property towing process, giving towing companies virtually unchecked authority to remove your car from a private lot and, in some cases, charge you more than $400 to get it back.

Milwaukee Common Council President Michael Murphy found the FOX6 stories so convincing, he played portions of two of them for Council's Licensing Committee on September 8th.

Two weeks later, the full Milwaukee Common Council approved a new ordinance to regulate towing companies.



"We`re really going after the bad operators," Murphy said.

Murphy says companies that tow unauthorized vehicles from private lots must now be licensed with the city.

Additionally -- if you see your vehicle being hooked up to a tow truck, the operator has to offer you the chance to have your vehicle released on the spot.

"Previous to this legislation, they would simply say, `Sorry, too bad,` and drive away," Murphy said.

Under the new ordinance, tow operators will be required to release your vehicle for a drop fee of $50 if you intervene before the vehicle is towed away. It's a provision some tow truck drivers aren't happy about.

"They come out, and now I gotta give them their car for $50?" Mohammad Abdul Salaam said. "If I can`t make enough money doing it, it`s not worth it for me to do it."



In addition to the drop fee, Murphy says the new ordinance gives consumers in Milwaukee a place to go to file a complaint if they believe they've been unfairly towed.

Until now, their only choice was to pay the bill or go to court.

"We really want to set up a process where citizens and consumer rights, they have a voice. And if it wasn`t for your expose, I don`t think that would`ve happened," Murphy said.

The new ordinance only applies to companies that do non-consensual towing of vehicles. It doesn't impact companies that you call for a tow when your vehicle breaks down, for example.

Alderman Murphy says he hopes to have the new citizen complaint process up and running very soon.


  • Angie

    So, if I own a property and post a sign stating that non residents who Park in the lot may be towed, they can pay the tow truck driver $50 to set the car back down in my lot? So I can’t enforce parking on my own property?

    • stacey

      I see what your saying but hey at least they will have to pay $50 to park on your lot…and thats only if they catch the tow before its gone..so maybe they will think twice

  • Mike Johnson

    so whats going to happen when the owner comes out while their car is being towed and instead of going back in for a 50 comes out with a 40 caliber pistol and kills someone? guess according to the city its all good as long as the people who park illegally have rights they dont deserve

  • honky

    Thank you fox6 for making me leave towing. I’d make 12.50 to do a private property, instead of $25. Thank you fox6now for costing tow truck drivers money, you guys are the greatest.:-)

    • Wayno

      Why would you blame the news station and not the predatory tow companies for screwing up by taking advantage of legislation that was meant to help the tow companies?

  • Adam Will

    If you own a business or private property, buy a full set of wheel dolly jacks. You could “theoretically” move the vehicle without damage or for giggles try turning the car around in its parking spot and wait for the reaction. As far as I am concerned, I own a heavy tow chain and I have and will drag your car.

  • Dan Sebring

    The original ordinance was worded in such a way that if, for example, you lived anywhere outside the city of Milwaukee and your car broke down in the city of Milwaukee and you sent a tow truck from outside Milwaukee in to Milwaukee to retrieve your vehicle that tow truck would have to have a $250 per year license from the city of Milwaukee. Also, even consensual towing operators who tow your car at your request would have had to comply. Just prior to his untimely death, I spoke to the original author of the ordinance the late Alderman Joe Dudzik and voiced my concerns over this and a number of other points I saw as overly restrictive and problematic for smaller consensual towing operators like myself. As a towing operator who only tows vehicles when requested by the vehicles owner, I am pleased with the final ordinance.

  • stacey

    this happened to me and I paid $386 to get my car and it wasnt even in an unauthorized spot. always towing ripped me off!…Can I get my money back??!!

  • Pissed

    If this is so how can the police come to scene and not make them give u ur car. Does Brown Deer village not have to abide by to this?

  • Pissed

    Where do u go to file a complaint? Always towing would not release my car and called police they didnt make them give me my car.

  • Charlene Eisfelder

    Why is ot yhat Officer Hill of Milwaukie Police can hassle anyone he wants; and throw a privet citizen around without ever calling in the name of the person that he stoped? He has done this on 5 times that I personly know of.

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