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Frequently asked questions for State Police Towing Consumers

Here you'll find answers to frequently asked questions on towing ordered by the Massachusetts State Police (MSP).

Table of Contents

Frequently asked questions

A tow company asked me to sign a "Release Authorization Form" before they would release my car. Do I have to sign this?

No. You are not required to sign anything. You are only required to show proof you are the registered owner or designee and pay the applicable charges. See list of maximum charges.

Note: You may be agreeing to pay additional charges when you sign a “Release Authorization Form”. Please read all forms carefully before signing them.

I feel I was overcharged for my Massachusetts State Police-ordered involuntary tow. How do I find the list of maximum charges a tow service provider is allowed to charge?

Every Massachusetts State Police contracted tow service provider is required per contract to conspicuously post the maximum rates for Massachusetts State Police involuntary towing within their business facility, as well as provide a printed copy of the rates (Forms SP357A or SP457B) before entering into any private agreements, at the time of settlement of charges related to the involuntary tow or at any time if requested by the consumer.

Maximum rates are set per CMR 220 272.00 and the Massachusetts State Police contract can be found at our Consumer Guide to State Police Towing.

If my vehicle is broken down (DMV) upon a highway, but is safely within the breakdown lane, am I allowed to wait for my own tow?

Yes, as long as your vehicle is NOT deemed a hazard by a Massachusetts State Police Trooper and you feel safe waiting for your tow. Please note that the on-scene Trooper's decision will be final. Although you may feel you are not a hazard, the Trooper takes many factors into consideration when making these determinations, and makes these determinations in the interest of public safety.

What is an involuntary tow?

An involuntary tow is when a member of the Massachusetts State Police orders your vehicle to be towed due to a number of reasons, including but not limited to"

  • Registration issues
  • Arrest of an operator
  • Investigative purposes
  • Weather concerns, or
  • If the vehicle is disabled and cannot safety remain where it is

How much can a tow service provider charge me for a police ordered service call?

A tow service provider who provides roadside service to get you back underway may charge the CMR 220 272 rate of $108, which includes 1 hour of on-scene service or wait time. They may also charge for supplies at the actual cost plus 15%, such as gasoline. Service calls of this nature would include, but not be limited to:

  • Out of gas calls
  • Jumpstarts
  • Tire changes
  • Winch-outs, and
  • Any other services performed to get the vehicle back underway safely

How long should I have to wait for my Massachusetts State Police ordered tow to arrive?

Tow service providers are required to meet the following response times, regardless of time of day or day of week:

  • 10-20 minutes response time to all limited access highways
  • 10-25 minutes response time to all other urban locations
  • 15-45 minutes response time to all other rural locations

Will my Massachusetts State Police ordered tow cost $108 (not including additional fees allowed under CMR 220 272) if I have my vehicle towed some place other than the tow service provider's garage?

Tow service providers are required to tow the vehicle back to their place of business unless otherwise authorized by the Trooper on scene. If you elect to have your vehicle towed to another location and it is authorized by the Trooper, you are entering into a private agreement with that tow service provider and the rates set forth by CMR 220 272 and the Massachusetts State Police contract no longer apply. The tow service provider may charge fees that are not regulated and may exceed those listed in the CMR 220 272. However, prior to entering into these private agreements the tow service provider is required to provide a copy of your consumer rights. The Massachusetts State Police approved copy of these rights is either the SP357A (non-commercial) or SP375B (commercial) and may be found at the State Police Towing portal.

Where will the Massachusetts State Police contracted tow company tow my vehicle?

The vehicle will be towed the the Massachusetts State Police contracted company's storage yard, unless otherwise authorized by the Trooper on scene. 

How do I find out where my vehicle has been towed by a Massachusetts State Police contracted tow company?

If you are not provided a business card by the company that towed your vehicle, you can call the barracks that covers the area where the vehicle was towed from.

What is the maximum charge per day for normal storage of my car or light truck?

$35 per 24-hour period per Massachusetts General Laws. Indoor storage and storage of commercial vehicles will be subject to individual contractual terms.

When does the 24-hour period start for storage?

This is not a calendar day fee. The 24-hour period begins when the vehicle arrives at the storage location.

How do I determine if my vehicle is a Category I or a Category II for billing purposes?

A Category I vehicle is any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less. This would include passenger cars or light-duty trucks. 

A Category II vehicle is any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more. This would include larger commercial vehicles such as box trucks and tractor trailers.

If your vehicle is registered in Massachusetts, you may check your registration to determine the gross vehicle weight rating.

If my vehicle is towed, how do I and my passengers get off the highway?

The safety of you and your passengers is paramount to not only the Massachusetts State Police but also to our contracted tow company providers. Tow service providers are required to transport occupants to a safe location, whether that be their own facilities or another reasonable alternative. Should the number of occupants exceed the capability of the tow service provider to provide adequate transportation, the Trooper on scene will make other accommodations for you.

While commuting to work on the Massachusetts Turnpike (MA PIKE) in the Weston/Waltham area I got a flat tire. When I pulled into the breakdown lane and activated my emergency lights a van with yellow police-style lights pulled up behind me. The van said MAPFRE and the man said he worked with the Massachusetts State Police and could assist. Once he fixed my tire, he did not charge me and drove away. What tow service is this?

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Highway Division (MassDOT) is available to offset and assist our tow service providers with their Emergency Services Programs. This service is sponsored by MAPFRE with a team of 45 vehicles positioned throughout the Commonwealth's high-traffic volume roadways.

The included areas are:

  • the Highway Assistance Patrol (HAP), which covers 13 major state roadways and interstates
  • the Emergency Services Patrol (ESP), which covers I-90 from New York to Boston
  • the Incident Response Operators (IRO), which covers the Metropolitan Highway System and tunnels throughout the City of Boston and surrounding areas

Some services provided are:

  • Changing flat tires
  • Fixing minor mechanical programs
  • Removing debris from the road after an accident
  • Providing gas
  • Providing emergency medical help

It should be noted that the HAP patrols Monday-Friday between the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. During holidays, the HAP patrols are extended to routes in heavy traffic areas. On I-90, ESP provides assistance 24/7, as does IRO in Boston's tunnel system.

I have a complaint about the services I received from one of the Massachusetts State Police's contracted tow service providers. Who do I let know about this?

Please visit our page on how to submit a Towing Response Report.

On that page, you'll find the methods of submitting your incident so a member of the Massachusetts State Police's Towing Compliance Team may review it and take appropriate action. Additionally, you may request a paper form (SP358) from any State Police facility. This form will list multiple submission options. 

You may also file a compliant with the Department of Public Utilities' (DPU) Transportation Oversight Division.

The tow service provider that assisted me gave me great service! How do I let the Massachusetts State Police know about this?

The Towing Response Report (SP358) is designed to accept compliments, complaints, or any other factor that should be reported. We really appreciate it when you let us know when our contracted tow service providers go above and beyond! You can learn how to submit a Towing Response Report here.

What is the process once I submit a Towing Response Report?

All submitted Towing Response Reports (SP358) are reviewed by a member of the Towing Compliance Team. If the report is a compliment, the tow service provided is provided a copy of the report for their records and the Massachusetts State Police  will place a copy in our files for future evaluations. If the report is a complaint, an investigator from the Towing Compliance Team will be assigned to thoroughly investigate the allegations. This investigation would include speaking directly with the complainant and the tow service provider. After the investigation is completed, all involved parties with be notified. 

Additional Resources

Contact for Frequently asked questions for State Police Towing Consumers


General Headquarters
470 Worcester Road, Framingham, MA 01702

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