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SB 134 Towing & Recovery Operators, Board of; regulation of towing storage, and recovery of vehicles.

Introduced by: Jay O'Brien | all patrons    ...    notes | add to my profiles


Tow trucks; towing and recovery operators; local-option regulations; regulation by Board for Towing and Recovery Operators; civil penalty.  Allows a mechanic's lien for "towing, storage, and recovery" in addition to the present "keeping, supporting, and care"; increases the present three-day limit for garage keepers to obtain vehicle data from the DMV and provides written notice to the owner of the stored vehicle to a seven-day limit; raises the so-called "junk car" threshold from the present $5,000 to $7,500; and increases from $25 per day to $50 per day the amount owed for storage if a vehicle is towed, unclaimed, and sold.

The bill also revises the procedures by which towing and storage companies may seek to recover their fees and charges for towing away and storing immobilized and abandoned vehicles.

In addition, it provides that local towing regulations can be no less restrictive than those imposed by the new Board for Towing and Recovery Operators. The measure also expands localities' ability to regulate "trespass tows" by ordinance and provides that, in the event a vehicle is towed from one locality to be stored in another, the ordinances of the locality from which the vehicle was towed shall apply.

The bill also provides for the so-called "secondary tow." When a vehicle is towed as the result of a police-towing request, the owner of the towing and recovery business, upon presentation of a written request from the owner of the vehicle and payment in full for all towing, recovery, and storage charges, shall release the vehicle for the purpose of inspecting or towing the vehicle to another location for repair, storage, or disposal. As for payment, all towing and recovery businesses shall accept cash, insurance company check, certified check, money order, at least one of two commonly used, nationally recognized credit cards, or any additional methods of payment approved by the Board.

The bill also requires that signs used to provide notice that a trespassing vehicle will be towed include at least the nonemergency telephone number of the local law-enforcement agency or the telephone number of the towing and recovery business authorized to perform the tows. The bill also prohibits local requirements that towing and recovery businesses provide service as repair facilities, body shops, or filling stations. Under this measure, localities would be authorized by ordinance to require photographic evidence to justify "trespass tows," posting of signs providing notice of where towed vehicles may be reclaimed and the name and telephone number of the local consumer affairs office, and obtaining the so-called "second signature" from the property owner agent prior to tows. The bill additionally prohibits certain relationships between towing and recovery businesses and the agents of property owners from whose property trespassing vehicles are towed. The maximum allowable hookup and initial towing fee for trespass tows of passenger cars would be increased from $85 to $125, unless local ordinance sets a different limit, and the amount of additional fees for late night, weekend, and holiday tows would be raised from $10 to $25 not to exceed $50. The bill allows local governments, by ordinance, to (i) prohibit storage charges for periods of time when owners cannot reclaim their vehicles because the towing and recovery business is closed and (ii) place caps on the charges that these businesses may impose and requires that any such limits be subject to "periodic and timely" adjustments. Local towing and advisory boards would be required to consist of an equal number of representatives of local law-enforcement agencies and representatives of towing and recovery operators, plus one "civilian" and would have to meet at least once per year at the call of the chairman, who is to be chosen annually by a majority vote of the board.

Finally the bill establishes a new Board for Towing and Recovery Operators to license and regulate the towing and recovery industry and tow truck drivers. This bill is the same as HB 1258.