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Ask Policeman Dan

Ask Policeman Dan: Can a tow truck speed to pick up a crashed car?

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Q: I have a friend who works for a tow company. He told me that when he is sent by the police to pick up a vehicle at a crash site, for example, he can go over the posted speed and not get cited. Is he right or could there be a citation in his future? — Mike

A: I’m not a fortune teller but if I was I would tell your friend to get his wallet out because he will more than likely be opening it someday to pay for the citation that he could be getting.

He could speed legally under one exception and that would be to unblock one or more lanes of a road (that always happens too…not). If the director of the Idaho Department of Transportation deemed the truck as an emergency vehicle it would be the only other exception, but I have yet to see that happen.

Maybe the easier thing to do here is to give you the definition of Idaho Code as to what are vehicles that could be deemed as emergency vehicles. Idaho Code 49-123(b) defines authorized emergency vehicles as :”Vehicles operated by any fire department or law enforcement agency of the state of Idaho or any political subdivision of the state, ambulances, vehicles belonging to personnel of voluntary fire departments while in performance of official duties only, vehicles belonging to, or operated by EMS personnel certified or otherwise recognized by the EMS bureau of the Idaho department of health and welfare while in the performance of emergency medical services, sheriff’s search and rescue vehicles which are under the immediate supervision of the county sheriff, wreckers which are engaged in motor vehicle recovery operations and are blocking part or all of one or more lanes of traffic, other emergency vehicles designated by the director of the Idaho State Police or vehicles authorized by the Idaho transportation board and used in the enforcement of laws specified in section 40-510, Idaho Code, pertaining to vehicles of 10,000 pounds or greater.”

In case you are wondering about Idaho Code 40-510, it gives limited law enforcement ability to enforce certain traffic laws. Many of these are commercial vehicle laws which are misdemeanors. These agents only have authority to issue citations.

Officer down

Please put these officers, killed in the line of duty, and their families in your prayers. They fought the good fight, now may they rest in peace. God bless these heroes.

  • Officer Chad P. Christiansen, Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs
  • Sergeant Kevin Redding, Haverford Township Police, Pennsylvania
  • Police Officer Mia Goodwin, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, North Carolina
  • Police Officer Keona Holley, Baltimore City Police, Maryland
  • Agent José Ferrer-Pabón, Puerto Rico Police Department

Have a question for Policeman Dan? Email your questions to or look for Ask Policemandan on Facebook and click the like button.

Dan Bristol is a retired police officer and former chief of police.


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I’ve noticed when I drive the freeway in different cities the speeds are different. Say, in Utah, it can be posted 70, people drive 85. In Arizona 65 they drive 85. Idaho, 80 they drive 87-90. Are the posted speeds just a general guideline?

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