Predatory towing bill one step closer to law

DENVER (KDVR) — A bill targeting predatory practices by tow truck companies is now closer to becoming law.

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Naquetta Ricks and Edie Hooton, passed in a House committee in an 8-5 vote. Those in support of the bill emphasize that it is the driver’s responsibility to obey posted parking signs, but the measure targets what they call “predatory towing.”

“We want to make sure there are regulations and there are penalties if someone does tow a car illegally,” Ricks said.

The bill would require towing companies:

  • to provide 24-hour notice before removing a vehicle from an apartment complex or mobile home park
  • ban towing for expired plates
  • reduce the cost to drivers who have their cars towed from private property
  • prevent tow services from blocking access to belongings in impounded cars

Ricks added that handicapped parking spots are exempt from the 24-hour notice rule.

Tow truck drivers would also be required to document the offense with pictures or video.

What if you can’t afford to pay after a tow?

One of the most contentious components is a clause allowing drivers to retrieve their vehicles if they can’t afford to pay for them before fees accumulate.

“It’s going to hurt a lot of guys in the industry because we all rely on that work that we did, and then we’re not getting paid for that work,” a representative with Blue Mountain Towing told FOX31.

Ricks explained that businesses will be paid, but drivers will be protected from having their cars held hostage under rapidly increasing fees.

“Instead of going to get a payday loan or losing a job, they’re able to get their car back, sign a form that they are liable to pay the tow company back and the tow company can collect from them,” Ricks said.

The bill would also change guidelines for selling unclaimed vehicles for excessive profits. Towing services maintain that vehicles are sold to cover towing, storage, mileage and other expenses.

The bill heads to the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday and then to the Senate.

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