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When Is A Tow Justified: The Difference Between Legality And Ethics

The question of when a tow is justified may seem to be an easy one at first glance, but let’s examine the nitty gritty of this rhetorical question. Obviously, a tow that is requested by the vehicle’s owner and is within the bounds of Colorado towing laws is a justified and proper tow. This is not something which is really questioned. The murkier situation is when a vehicle is towed without the consent of its owner. In this context, there may arise a situation where a tow is actually within the bounds of the law, but perhaps not in the long-term interest of a Colorado towing company to carry out.

What exactly does this mean? Well, really it is a matter of making a distinction between legal and ethical. Just because a tow is legal doesn’t mean it is necessarily ethical. And when we talk about ethics here were mostly talking about how smart performing a given non-consensual tow is in terms of the image that may be cast on the towing company (or the towing industry as a whole).

The image of the towing industry is not merely a reflection of how well they follow the law. (photo by  gvgoebel via Flickr)

The image of the towing industry is not merely a reflection of how well they follow the law. (photo by gvgoebel via Flickr)

Now, in most cases where you have a non-consensual tow it is being ordered either by law enforcement / the city or a property owner / manager. In most of these situations, the local towers are under no legal obligation to make an effort to alert the vehicle owner that their vehicle is going to be towed. Doing so means that the tower is going out of his or her way to try to help the vehicle owner avoid the hassle of recovering their vehicle. In many situations this also simply isn’t possible. And, of course, with a significant chunk of any given Colorado towing company’s business coming from these types of tows, some consideration has to be taken in terms of how much business a company can afford to lose.

On the other hand, the biggest image problem that the towing industry faces is that towers are sometimes overzealous in who they tow and when. Even small gestures taken to demonstrate to the general public that a given Colorado towing company is professional and ethical can thus have a large impact on the perception of that company and of the wider towing industry.

Really it comes down to a decision between what is more important in the long-run. Is it trying to tow as many vehicles in as many situations as possible to maximize profit in the here-and-now, or should some consideration be paid to ensuring operations are ethical (and result in good public perception). While the first option may seem to be better for business at first glance, the latter option may actually allow a company to win more business down the road by being perceived as a company that operates professionally and with honesty and integrity. This is something that all local towers should consider. Sometimes, integrity means more than simply operating legally and following all Colorado towing laws.

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