Tow Truck Laws and Regulations

State Statutes

Tow truck businesses in Montana must operate in accordance with the “Montana Professional Tow Truck Act” found in Title 61, Chapter 8, Part 9 of the Montana Code Annotated.

Other important statutes include:

  • 61-9-416 Commercial tow truck definition – requirements
  • 61-9-411 Certain vehicles to carry flares or other warning devices
  • 61-9-431 Use of warning signs, flares, reflectors, lanterns, and flag persons
  • 61-12, Part 4 Removal and Sale of Abandoned Vehicles
  • 71-3-1201 Who may have lien – agisters’ lien – lien for service – towing and storage lien – extension of lien to certain personal property contained in motor vehicle that is subject to lien
  • 75-10-511 Motor vehicle wrecking facility and motor vehicle graveyard licenses
  • 75-10-531 Crushing and recycling of junk vehicles
  • 75-10-532 Disposition of money collected

Administrative Rules

Tow truck businesses are also regulated by administrative rules – specifically, Chapter 23.6: Tow Trucks – issued by the Department of Justice.

Other important rules to be aware of include:

  • 18.8.408 Tow Cars (Wreckers)
  • 18.8.519 Wreckers and/or Tow Vehicle Requirements
  • 23.6.105 Tow Truck Complaint Resolution Committee - Establishment
  • 23.6.108 Vehicle Tow and Storage Requirements – Insurance
  • 23.6.109 Safety Inspection Process
  • 23.6.110 General Tow Truck Equipment Safety Standards
  • 38.3.712 Commercial Tow Truck Firms – Proof of Required Insurance

Standardized Wrecker Signing

In cooperation with the Montana Department of Transportation, the Montana Tow Truck Association has adopted standardized signs. Warning signs must bear the words “HAZARD AHEAD,” “LANE CLOSED AHEAD,” “ROAD CLOSED AHEAD,” “WRECK AHEAD,” “TOW TRUCK AHEAD” or “WRECKER AHEAD.”

It is highly recommended that Montana tow truck operators follow the wrecker signing guidelines provided in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

State and national minimum standards for acceptable signs are:

  • color – orange with black legend and border
  • shape – diamond warning sign
  • minimum size – 36″ by 36″ on interstate, primary, secondary and urban routes, with five-inch lettering
  • reflectivity – must meet MUTCD guidelines for visibility both day and night
  • placement – signs must be placed right of the roadway a minimum of 450′ in advance of an accident site when tow trucks are operating
  • incidents that require total lane closures cannot be safely diverted without following a DOT-approved sign plan involving significant traffic control measures

MHP Tow Truck Inspection Process

  1. HQ MV-5 insurance form submitted by insurance company to MHP for each commercial Tow Company location
  2. MCS inspection completed for all tow truck classifications (A,B,C & D) – contact respective MCS District Captain to arrange for inspection.
  3. MHP Tow Truck Inspection Report completed for all tow truck classifications (A,B,C & D) – Contact respective MHP District office to arrange inspections.
  4. Upon successful MCS & MHP tow truck inspection affix new tow sticker in the windshield and / or remove the respective year corner.
  5. Tow Company will provide the following documents prior to the start of the business inspection.
    • Tow Truck Fact Sheet
    • Tow Company Driver Information
    • Tow Company Equipment Information
  6. MHP will conduct Business Inspection using the Tow Truck Business Inspection Report
  7. All paperwork will be forwarded to the District Captain
  8. All business paperwork will be inspected by the District Captain for accuracy.
  9. Businesses with approved paperwork will be provided a Letter of Appointment by District Captain.
  10. Tow Truck Fact Sheet will be faxed to Helena MHP dispatch upon satisfactory completion.
MHP District MHP Captain MHP Office Email
#1 Missoula Jim Kitchin (406) 329-1500 JKitchin@mt.gov
#2 Great Falls Robert Armstrong (406) 453-1121 RArmstrong2@mt.gov
#3 Butte Gary Becker (406) 533-6620 GBecker@mt.gov
#4 Billings Keith Edgell (406) 896-4360 KEdgell@mt.gov
#5 Glendive Ed Hilbert (406) 377-5238 EHilbert@mt.gov
#6 Kalispell Steve Lavin (406) 755-6688 SLavin@mt.gov
#7 Bozeman Art Collins (406) 587-4525 ACollins@mt.gov
#8 Havre Duane Bowers (406) 265-6420 Dubowers@mt.gov
MCS District MCS Captain MCS Office Cell
#1 Missoula Pat Metzger (406) 523-5814 (406) 544-3736
#2 Butte Mike Poole (406) 533-3692 (406) 490-1658
#3 Great Falls Jeff McLaughlin (406) 455-8330 (406) 431-0806
#4 Glendive Eric Belford (406) 345-8249 (406) 490-8699
#5 Billings Doug Park (406) 657-0208 (406) 698-8286

Tow Truck Complaint Resolution Committee

Next Meeting: Helena AG’s Conference room – no date set

Committee members are appointed to three-year terms and may serve more than one term.

Name Representing
Captain Jim Kitchen, Chair Highway Patrol
Bruce Halcro, Vice Chair General Public
Terry Morrison Tow Truck Industry, Western Montana
Joanne Blyton Tow Truck Industry, Eastern Montana
Frank Molodecki Commercial Motor Carrier Industry
Shaun Peterson Insurance Industry

Other Resources

Contact

Captain Gary Becker
Montana Highway Patrol
3615 Wynne Avenue
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 533-6620
Fax: (406) 494-8264
E-mail: gbecker@mt.gov