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Wrecker Regulations Frequently Asked Questions

How does the South Carolina Highway Patrol utilize wrecker services?

Answer:  Troopers tow vehicles for a variety of reasons, (i.e. motor vehicle collision, disabled, stolen, abandoned, arrest of operator) and on many occasions the owner/driver may not be at the scene at the time the vehicle is towed.  When possible, attempts are made to ascertain from the driver their choice of a wrecker service (Owner Request) within proximity to the scene.  

If the owner/driver does not have a towing company request or the owner/driver is unavailable for inquiry, the Wrecker Rotation List for that area is utilized.

How does a towing service become part of the SCHP Wrecker Rotation List?

Answer:  In order for a wrecker service to be accepted on the South Carolina Highway Patrol’s rotation list, the service must comply with S.C. Code Regulations. 38-600 (Article 7 - Wrecker Regulations). 

How does the South Carolina Highway Patrol ensure the wrecker services are in compliance with regulations established in S. C. Code Regulations 38-600, Article 7, Wrecker Regulations?

Answer: The South Carolina Highway Patrol annually inspects each wrecker service that has been approved for the wrecker rotation list to ensure compliance.  In addition, each wrecker owned by any wrecker service on a rotation list shall be equipped with a towing log. The towing log shall be maintained by the wrecker service and shall accurately reflect all towing done by the wrecker service at the request of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. Each wrecker service owner shall be responsible for producing this towing log upon request by a Department of Public Safety Inspector. 

A wrecker service that fails to pass inspection and qualification as prescribed by regulation will be notified of the deficiencies. When the wrecker service corrects the deficiencies, it may request a new inspection.

Are towing services required to secure a towed vehicle?

Answer: The wrecker service shall maintain the towed vehicle in a safe storage area in a manner that would prohibit further damage and ensure protection of personal property. This may be a locked building or a secured fenced-in area where the stored vehicles and other property will not be accessible to the public.

Can wrecker services charge for storage of a towed vehicle?

Answer: Wrecker services may charge a daily storage fee, commencing 12 hours after the vehicle is towed to the storage area and terminating when the vehicle owner or vehicle owner's designee offers or attempts to pick up the vehicle and offers to pay the wrecker service's legitimate accrued charges.

Can I get my personal belongings from my vehicle after it has been towed?

Answer: Yes.  To obtain personal belongings, contact would need to be made directly with the towing company.

Does the South Carolina Highway Patrol monetarily benefit from the Wrecker Rotation List?

Answer: The South Carolina Highway Patrol receives no compensation from wrecker services.  Further, no trooper is to hold any financial interest in any wrecker service and is banned from making any recommendations of a wrecker service in the performance of his/her duties.

How much is a wrecker service allowed to charge?

Answer: Fees charged for rotation list calls shall be reasonable and not in excess of those rates charged for similar services provided in response to requests initiated by any other public agency or private person. The reasonableness of the fees charged will be determined in the following manner:

a. A wrecker service shall submit proposed fees along with its annual application. Separate fee schedules shall be submitted for each class of wrecker, and, for each class, the fee for standard towing, heavy-duty towing, storage, and special operations.

(1) A standard tow is defined as responding to the scene, hooking up the vehicle, performing a general clean up if the call involves responding to a collision scene and providing responsible assistance to the owner to get to a safe location. 

(2) Special operations are operations involving the process of up-righting an overturned vehicle or returning a vehicle to a normal position on the roadway which requires the use of auxiliary equipment due to the size or location of the vehicle and/or the recovery of a load which has spilled, or the off-loading and reloading of a load from an overturned vehicle performed to right the vehicle. 

b. The Troop commander will determine the reasonableness of the fees based upon the average of the proposed fees submitted and a comparison of that Highway Patrol Troop's industry standards, by wrecker zone, for similar operations. 

c. A copy of the approved fees will be kept in the wrecker at all times. It will be presented upon request to the person for whom the tow services were provided, their agent, any Department of Public Safety officer at the scene, or any Department of Public Safety supervisor who is inspecting the wrecker or wrecker service.

There are three (3) classes of wreckers; Class A – Light Duty Wrecker; Class B – Medium Duty Wrecker; and Class C – Heavy Duty Wrecker.  If a towing service utilizes a Class B wrecker when a Class A would suffice, can a vehicle owner be charged for use of the larger class wrecker?

Answer:  A wrecker service may respond with a wrecker of a higher class than requested. However, the wrecker service is limited to the rates of the requested classification.

How do I handle a dispute over wrecker service charges?

Answer:  S. C. Regulations 38-600, C, 6 states, Should there be a dispute between the vehicle owner or the vehicle owner's designee and the wrecker service regarding any storage fees or charges, the vehicle owner or the vehicle owner's designee must provide the wrecker service written notification of the dispute. If the dispute is settled in favor of the wrecker service then the owner of the towed vehicle is liable for all charges which accrued pending the resolution. The wrecker service must cease any storage charges that would otherwise accrue from the time the wrecker service receives written notification of the dispute until the dispute is settled. Upon release of the vehicle, the wrecker service shall provide an itemized statement of all charges. If the vehicle owner is not available to sign a release, the wrecker service must release the vehicle to the owner's insurer or to the owner's designee.

Who do I contact if I have a concern with wrecker operations?

Answer: Complaints/concerns against a wrecker service regarding an incident involving the Highway Patrol or its operation of the wrecker lists must be received within thirty days of the alleged incident. Complaints/concerns should be directed to the Captain of the Troop where the incident occurred. View Troop contact information »

Should I have additional questions concerning wrecker services, who do I contact?

Answer: Contact the Highway Patrol at hpwreckerinfo@scdps.gov.