Standard operating procedure: what the rules say


The standard operating procedure (SOP) for towing a vehicle in many cities requires the on-duty traffic officer to capture an image of the vehicle parked in a no-parking zone, announce the license plate number of the vehicle via a loudspeaker, waits a stipulated time for the vehicle owner to show up, and only then tows the vehicle.

Whenever the duty officer spots a vehicle parked in a no parking zone, causing danger or inconvenience to others, he must announce details such as vehicle number, color, type, on high- speaker.

If the vehicle owner does not respond within the allotted time, the officer must take a photo of the vehicle. In some cities, SOPs require police to write down details of the location of the towed vehicle and where it is dropped off.

If the vehicle owner returns to the scene after the towing operation, they should contact the nearest police station or call the police hotline number.

The vehicle owner could also check with the nearest traffic officer on duty.

If the vehicle is towed out of a no-parking zone, the owner must be prepared to pay the mandatory penalty. Factors such as vehicle weight and the number of days the vehicle has been towed will determine the amount.

In 2017, the Mumbai Traffic Police introduced new towing rules, mandating loudspeaker announcements.

It was also required that the vehicle be released on payment of a penalty if the owner returns while the towing operation is in progress. However, this penalty should be for parking in a no parking zone. Towing charges were not to be applied in this case.

Parking rules, regulated by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), follow similar rules as in Mumbai. A different rule states that the towed vehicle must be parked within ten miles of where it is picked up.

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