Virginia Beach votes to increase towing fee caps
Getting your car towed in Virginia Beach is about to cost you more.
Virginia Beach’s City Council voted to increase the maximums that towing companies can charge vehicle owners.
Now, a tow for a standard-size car could cost as much as $200 to start, up from the $145 it’s been since 2013. That’s a 38% increase, though cumulative inflation rates over the last decade are less than 32%.
And if your car sits at the tow lot, the maximum day rates those companies can charge for storage will more than double after council’s action, from $25 per day after the first 24 hours to a new maximum rate of $60 per day.
The change puts Virginia Beach’s towing fee maximums well above neighboring Norfolk and Chesapeake, which limit fees to $155 and $150 respectively. Storage fees for those cities are also now half what Virginia Beach will now permit or less.
The state allows cities to set charge maximums for the towing industry as a consumer protection measure, but Councilman Worth Remick says the city hasn’t revisited those figures in a decade.
Remick is the council liaison to the city’s Towing Advisory Board and said the towing industry needs to be able to keep up with inflation.
City staff told the council in June that rising costs and inflation have even shut down some towing companies, which in turn affects the city getting cars towed in an emergency, like after a traffic accident.
Beyond upping the maximums, a new state law that went into effect this summer now allows towing companies to charge up to $20 per tow for the gas they use to move the vehicle. That’s in addition to the base towing fee.
Councilman Michael Berlucchi pointed out in June that increased tow fees will most often be paid by those who can least afford it.
“We know that towing disproportionately affects people on the lower income scale and getting your car towed when you’re making minimum wage or you're making less than the people sitting around this table, can have an incredible impact on your life and force decisions like ‘pay the light bill or put food on the table,’” he said.
Berlucci said at Tuesday’s meeting he thinks more needs to be done on consumer protections, but ultimately voted in favor of the max charge hikes.
The ordinance passed 9-2, with Sabrina Wooten and Chris Taylor voting against.