Tow-truck drivers must wear identification tags and promptly report the towing of certain vehicles to authorities under legislation given final approval Tuesday by Pittsburgh City Council.
Councilman Doug Shields' bill is designed to protect motorists from unscrupulous towing companies. It applies mainly to "non-consensual tows" -- a term for illegally parked vehicles towed from privately owned lots.
Some towing companies had opposed the legislation, saying motorists wouldn't have a problem if they parked legally in the first place. However, Mr. Shields said he was galvanized by complaints about price gouging, a refusal to let motorists pay by credit card, hidden fees and other problems.
While the legislation doesn't regulate towing fees -- council previously did that -- he said he hopes it will "bring some order to a very chaotic situation."
Under the legislation, companies performing non-consensual tows must pay $100 for an initial license and $50 for an annual renewal. Each truck in the company's fleet must bear a city-issued sticker costing $10 annually.
The tow company must provide the city with insurance and other information, store vehicles at a secure impound site and electronically notify authorities of each non-consensual tow within one hour of storing the vehicle. The company must have the property owner's written consent to tow each vehicle.
Individual tow-truck drivers must pay $25 for an initial license and $10 for an annual renewal, and they must keep city-issued identification badges with them at all times while on towing details.
Companies face fines and loss of licenses for violating the requirements. The legislation sets up a hearing board for appeals of license revocations.
Tow companies may charge motorists $10 to cover the electronic reporting requirement, but $5 of that must be remitted to a Web-based clearinghouse to be used for tracking towed vehicles.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
City of Pittsburgh Approves Rules For Towing Firms
Here's the story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Posted by Cyndi Kight, Associate Editor of Towing & Recovery Footnotes at 7:17 AM