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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

WA Governor Signs Bill Outlawing Predatory Towing

Seems it just applies to one portion of "predatory towing" - giving gifts for tows is outlawed. Here's the story from
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Gov. Chris Gregoire on Monday signed a bill that stems from a KOMO News investigation.

Once the law takes effect in 90 days, it will ban towing companies' practice of offering special incentives to get more business.

When you get towed, you have a problem: the inconvenience and the high cost to get the vehicle back from the towing company.

It's such a lucrative business that some towing companies are offering cash and gift incentives for people, such as apartment managers, to send work their way. Other towing companies complained, calling the practice unethical.

But the practice went on for nearly two decades until KOMO News exposed the practice at Shannon Towing of Lynnwood.

"All we were told is that it was a gray area, the law was a gray area. Nobody was doing anything about it, so it was time," said Mary Brubaker of Mary's Towing. "We're so excited about the Problem Solvers, we couldn't have done it without them."

"That's where the bill generated from, from the Problem Solvers," said Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, sponsor of HB 2592, which deals with impounds and incentive towing.

Hunt says he was outraged by what he saw.

"I remember the tower at first saying, 'Oh, we don't do that' when Michelle (Esteban of KOMO News) went into interview them," he said. "Once you sort of get caught red-handed, it gave the whole thing momentum."

The bill sailed through the Legislature and quickly signed by the governor.

"I'm just excited it's finally here. It has been a long time coming," said Tina Beck of Mary's Towing. "With the help of Michelle and TRAW (Towing Recovery Association of Washington), I feel with the joint effort, we finally made it."

Once it takes effect, a violation of the law will be a misdemeanor.

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