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VIRGINIABEACH -- It only takes a few minutes of parking in the wrong spot before a tow truck swoops in and hauls your car off.When your car is hooked up to the back of a tow truck and hauled off, most people think there isn't a whole lot to make the situation better.But a 13News Now investigation into towing rules and regulations in Hampton Roads has learned drivers may have more rights than they think.

One rule in each of the seven cities sets a maximum amount of money a tow truck company can charge a driver to get their car back.In Virginia Beach, companies cannot charge more than $145.Each city is allowed to set up its own towing advisory board to create its own towing regulations for cars being towed from private lots.

Virginia Beach drivers, for instance, can get their car back from just $25 if they catch the tow truck before it drives off the private property.

There also must be a sign in the private parking lot warning drivers not to park there and, if a car is towed for parking without permission, the tow truck driver must get the signature of a property owner before towing a car when the business is open.

Ernie Cooper owns Aristocrat Towing and has been hauling cars out of parking lots for nearly two decades. Cooper says most companies follow the rules but some rogue operators can ruin the industry's reputation.We've self-police ourselves and I believe the tow companies really work hard to minimize and mitigate a bad tow,' Cooper said. 'Nobody wants them.'

Cooper chairs the Virginia Beach Towing Advisory Board.He says the best way to avoid having your car towed away is to make sure you know the rules of where you're parking before you get out of your car; including looking around for any signs warning drivers not to park in the lot.

Towing Rules and Costs Around Hampton Roads
CityTowFeeDropFeeReceiptSignature?Signature Required?
Virginia Beach$145$25YesYesYes
Norfolk$135$35YesYes*Yes
ChesapeakeYesn/aYesYes
Portsmouth$105n/an/an/an/a
Hamptonn/an/an/an/a
NewportNews$120$25YesYes*Yes
Suffolk$135YesYesYes*Yes

* with exceptions

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