Booting & Towing

Vehicle Booting

Removal fee: $445

Under the California Vehicle Code, a vehicle with five or more delinquent parking citations may be immediately towed or temporarily disabled or "booted". Once a vehicle has been booted, you have 72 hours to pay the boot fee, outstanding citations and penalties on the booted vehicle, and any other vehicle registered in your name, before it is towed.

Boots are not released on Sundays or holidays.  Community service in lieu of payment or payment plans are not an option once your vehicle has been booted or towed.

Pay Citations & Boot Fee

To pay your outstanding citations and the boot removal fee::

During Business Hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) – The boot removal fee and all citation amounts due must be paid at the SFMTA Customer Service Center located at 11 South Van Ness Avenue. Cash, money order, certified check, and Visa or MasterCard are accepted (personal checks not accepted). After full payment has been received the boot will be removed from your vehicle within two hours. 

Non-Business Hours - Citation and boot fee payments are accepted after business hours and on weekends at Auto Return, 450 7th Street between Bryant and Harrison Streets. Same day boot release is available Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.  Payments received after 11 p.m. releases the vehicle on the next business day. No boot releases are conducted on Sundays and holidays.

Boot fees cannot be paid online.  You must appear in-person at either the Customer Service Center or at AutoReturn to pay this fee and have your vehicle released.

Boot Hearing

If you feel your vehicle has been booted improperly, you have the right to an in-person instant hearing. Hearings are conducted at 11 South Van Ness Avenue. The hearing officer will only evaluate whether there are sufficient outstanding citations to justify the vehicle being booted. Citations under review are not included. The hearing officer will not determine the substantive validity of any citation.

Vehicle Towing

Vehicle Tow Not Related To A Crime

The SFMTA is responsible for removing illegally parked and abandoned vehicles from city streets.  This helps maximize on-street parking, manage traffic congestion, and maintain clean, safe and functional streets for the public’s use. Most tow requests received from the public are for blocked driveways.

If you think your car has been towed, immediately contact AutoReturn, the City's towing service provider by phone at 415.865.8200 or via their online database. Provide your license plate number, vehicle description, and suspected date/location of tow to confirm if your vehicle was towed.

If AutoReturn cannot confirm your vehicle was towed, your vehicle may be stolen.  To report a vehicle stolen, contact the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) at 415.553.0123 or visit the SFPD online reporting tool

Where to Recover Your Vehicle

Auto Return’s Customer Service Center is located at 450 7th Street at Harrison Street (Across from the Hall of Justice) and is open 24 hours a day, every day.  You must appear in person to claim your vehicle and settle all fees before your vehicle can be released. 

Towing Fees

You must pay all fees for your vehicle to be released.  Summary of fees:

  • Administrative Fee – Passenger vehicles Under 10,000 GVW 
    • First Tow /Low Income: $86.00
    • First Tow: $172.00
      • First Tow does not  apply to non-individuals, including rental car companies, city car shares, or any business
    • All repeat tows: $261.00
  • Tow Fee – Passenger Vehicles: $208.00
  • Storage
    • First four hours: free
    • First day after first 4 hours: $58.50
    • Subsequent days: $68.25
  • Dolly (if applicable): $58.50
  • Transfer to long-term storage (if applicable): $27.75
  • Lien 1 and Lien 2 fees: $70
  • Lien 3 fees = $100

Towing and storage fees vary for medium and heavy duty vehicles.  Please search for your vehicle at AutoReturn’s website or call AutoReturn at 415.865.8200 to receive estimated fees.

Citations associated with this tow, and delinquent citations, are not included in your invoice unless your vehicle was towed for having five or more delinquent citations.

Full list of tow fees [Español] [中國]

Payment Options

AutoReturn accepts cash, ATM cards, and most major credit cards (Discover, MasterCard, and Visa only).

Tows Relating to a Crime/EXPIRED Driver's LICENSE 

To retrieve a vehicle towed as part of a crime investigation, including a recovered stolen vehicle, you must obtain a tow release from:

San Francisco Police Department

​Hall Of Justice
850 Bryant Street, Room #154
San Francisco, CA 94103
Hours: Monday- Friday, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm

For more information visit the SFPD website or call 415.553.1619.

Delinquent Parking Citations

If your vehicle has five or more delinquent parking citations, we cannot release your vehicle until all citations and penalties have been paid on the towed vehicle and any other vehicle registered in your name.  All fees still apply.

By law, a vehicle cannot be released if the vehicle registration is not current.  You must register your vehicle with the Department of Motor Vehicles and provide official records to demonstrate your vehicle registration is current.  All fees still apply.

Community service is not allowed in lieu of payment.

TO CONTEST A TOW NOT RELATED TO A CRIME

If you feel your vehicle was towed in error, you may contest the validity of the tow.  Submit a hearing request, and all supporting evidence, within the time allowed to protest.

If your vehicle is valued as less than $500, you must request a hearing within 10 calendar days from the date of tow.  If your vehicle is valued at $500 or more, you must request a hearing within 30 calendar days from the date of tow.

Storage fees increase daily, even if you feel your vehicle was towed in error.  The only way to stop fees from increasing is to pay all fees and claim your vehicle.  If you choose to leave your vehicle in storage during the hearing process, you will be responsible for all storage fees should you not prevail at your hearing. 

By law, tow fees cannot be refunded because of financial hardship or personal circumstances.

After receiving your request, a hearing officer will review the facts and determine if the tow is legal.  Here are your options to request a hearing:

Online hearing request OR online submission of written protest

You can: (1) request an in-person or telephone hearing, or (2) submit a written protest that will be reviewed by a hearing officer by going to the following link: [add link].  A decision will be made based on the evidence submitted.

Mail Hearing

If you wish to submit your protest by US mail, send a letter detailing the reason for your protest and all evidence to the address, below. The hearing officer will make a decision based on your submission and any documents or evidence relevant to the tow.

SFMTA Hearing Section
ATTN: Tow Hearings
11 South Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94103

TO CONTEST A TOW RELATED TO A CRIME

Please visit:

San Francisco Police Department

Hall Of Justice
850 Bryant Street, Room #154
San Francisco, CA 94103
Hours: Monday- Friday, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm

For more information visit the SFPD website or call 415.553.1619.

Financial Hardship

If you cannot afford to get your car out of storage, you may request a hearing to be held within 48 hours of your request (excluding weekends and holidays). If you choose to leave your vehicle in storage and you do not prevail at the tow hearing, you will be responsible for all storage fees starting from the date the vehicle was first towed. Consequently SFMTA ADVISES YOU TO GET YOUR VEHICLE OUT OF STORAGE IMMEDIATELY. In making a decision at a tow hearing, the hearing officer only determines if there are reasonable grounds for the tow.