Thursday, June 23, 2011

News From SWTOP: Towing & VSF Clean Up Bill Signed by Governor Perry

Here's the release:
June 17th, 2011Austin, TX.......
Governor Rick Perry signed HB 3510, the Towing and Vehicle Storage Facility industries Clean Up Bill, that would correct many problems facing the industries and offering a welcome relief to many owners who have been awaiting some changes to current law and rules.
Here are the changes as a result of the passage of HB 3510:
The Storage Lien requirement for 72 days has been shortened to 45 days. This will allow VSF's to rid of abandoned vehicles faster and make more room in their facilities for more vehicles.
The law used to only require the payment of "charges associated with the delivery or storage of the vehicle" by the owner/operator. It now reads "charges for services regulated under this chapter or Chapter 2308, including charges for an incident management tow, as defined by Section 2308.002."
The definition for "Incident Management" has changed to read: "Incident management tow" means any tow of a vehicle in which the tow truck is summoned to the scene of a traffic accident or to an incident, including the removal of a vehicle, commercial cargo, and commercial debris from an accident or incident scene."
The language was changed in the section requiring certain identification for release of vehicles to read as follows:  "present valid photo identification issued by this state, another state, a federal agency, or a foreign government." So the question of whether or not to accept a Mexican Driver's License is now resolved. You may accept these licenses without worry now.
Homes that do not charge for parking on their property are no longer required to post a sign on their property to have an unauthorized vehicle removed. But if the home charges anything for parking on their property, they must post signs.
TDLR was given a little discrepancy on the separation of rules for each type of tow license, allowing for certain rules not to have to be unnecessarily placed on those that do require or need certain equipment, etc.
A section was added that would allow TDLR to require refunding of fees that are over the fees of a political subdivision or over the PPI fee cap.
Booting companies were given the same contractual rights to patrol commercial and private property accounts as tow companies have.
The language on a tow sign was corrected to relate to the type of towing or booting that is performed on the property. The signs may now read:
a)    "Unauthorized Vehicles Will Be Towed or Booted at Owner's or Operator's Expense"; or
b)    "Unauthorized Vehicles Will Be Towed at Owner's or Operator's Expense"; or
c)    "Unauthorized Vehicles Will Be Booted at Owner's or Operator's Expense"

The times of enforcement section has changed to allow for the different types of towing and/or booting as well:
a)    "Towing and Booting Enforced"; or
b)    "Towing Enforced"; or
c)    "Booting Enforced".
The tow signs now are not considered a “thing of value” under the Monetary Gain provisions of Section 2308.401 for tow signs under Section 2308.301. Signs may now be supplied and installed by towing companies to commercial and multi-family residential properties.
Notice, by the Justice of Peace Courts, or other courts conducting Tow Hearings, to the law enforcement agency that authorized the removal of the vehicle is sufficient as notice to the political subdivision in which the law enforcement agency is located.
Justice of Peace Courts, or other courts conducting Tow Hearings, may award court costs and attorney's fees to the prevailing party.
The language in the law now reinforces the right of law enforcement to enforce the towing and VSF laws and rules.
Section 2308.206, Required Filing, that outlines the requirement to report Non-Consent Tow Fee Schedules by January 31st of each year has been repealed.
These new laws take effect September 1, 2011.
TDLR shall adopt rules to implement the changes in law made by this Act to Chapters 2303 and 2308, Occupations Code, not later than January 1, 2012.

The Towing, Storage, and Booting Advisory board will be meeting soon to start working on rules to go with the new laws.  Please watch your email for updates on the rule making process. You may read the full bill HERE!

Thank You!
Jess Horton
Executive Director
Southwest Tow Operator

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