Towing away your rights

With proper knowledge of city ordinances and regulations that are provided, local tow and recovery companies say Tallahassee drivers can avoid being scammed by parking violations.

Lisa Barthlof, company agent for Danny B’s Towing and Recovery said she feels that students are unfairly targeted and her company prides itself on its request-only tow policy.

“Much of this wouldn’t happen if students knew their rights, which are stated on our Web site straight from the Leon County Board of Commissioners,” Barthlof said.

“Students don’t know that the tow truck operator must wear a pictured badge, a picture of the violations should be taken and a permanent sign must be present on the property that is 3ft to 6ft in height. If the car hasn’t yet been chained, then there is no charge. No chain, No charge.”

Growing disgust is arising between Tallahassee tow recovery services and customers concerning their honesty and quality of service.

Patrick Benoit, 21, a junior economics student from West Palm Beach said one evening his conversation was interrupted by the sound of a tow truck hoisting his friend’s car onto the wrecker for the second time this semester.

“We were looking at the car on the truck and he gave us one rate to get it off,” Benoit said. “But upon payment he raised the rate to $88 that then conflicted with the after hours fee and drove off with the car, while I was looking at it. We paid $118 that night to get the car out.”  The Leon County Board of Commissioners has mandated an $88 ordinance fee for all tow-away vehicles during business hours and half the price if the car has been chained but still on the original tow site. Barthlof said high traffic weekends in Tallahassee such as Florida State University football games and Florida A&M University’s Homecoming weekend cost its citizens and students between $30,000-$50,000. Towing officials say that roam towing companies tend to target alumni, students and guests in nice vehicles on these weekends. But president of American Eagle Wrecker Service, John, who withheld his last name, said he believes that fines should be raised to compensate for the hassle and disrespect he experiences each day. “Students are the economy, well, the business in Tallahassee,” John said. “They [customers] say that is the dumb tow truck guy’s fault that they are illegally parked. We are just providing the service.” Local complexes that house university students like University Village Apartments and Village Reanna Apartments require that their tenants comply with parking regulations through their signature on the lease. After tenants sign their leases the complexes provide solo decals.

Leigh Woodruff, community assistant of University Village Apartments said they do not handle visitor parking for the apartment complex anymore.

“We don’t issue visiting passes,” Woodruff said. “Our tenants must go to the towing service for a weekly pass that is only issued by them.”

To solve some of the problems of parking and towing in Tallahassee, city officials have developed an on-line application found at, to make students aware of the laws, codes and restrictions that govern towing. The Web site advises students to make sure there is enough parking available for them, their roommates and guests before they rent a home or apartment.