DENVER (CBS4)– Two state representatives are hoping their new, proposed bill, will put the brakes on Colorado towing companies.
“It’s just easy to take advantage and prey on them and I find that outrageous,” said Rep. Edie Hooton, a Democrat representing Boulder, who is pushing the bill that would tighten rules around what are known as nonconsensual tows.
“I don’t believe that towing companies should have unlimited discretion to tow,” said Hooton.
The bill’s co-sponsor, Naquetta Ricks, a Democrat representing Arapahoe County, said her belief in more restrictions on towing companies comes partly from her personal experience of having her car towed from her townhouse complex.
“I myself have been towed,” said Ricks.
She said her vehicle was towed for not having current registration and it cost her more than $300 to get her car back. She called the experience “Horrible. And I was just outraged that within 24 hours it was $300. What happens to people who can’t afford this?”
One provision of the draft bill would prevent such tows: it would prohibit tow companies from towing a vehicle from private property due to expired registration unless it was ordered by a police officer. Currently, tow companies will frequently tow vehicles from apartment parking lots for having an expired registration.
“It’s very predatory and I think people are making money off the backs of consumers out here and there’s nothing you can do after your car is towed and you need it back,” said Ricks.
“How do we make the law a little fairer for consumers? That’s basically what we are trying to do,” said the state representative.
The new measure would also prohibit tow companies from charging daily storage fees until after the tow company has sent notice to the vehicle owner or lienholder.
Additionally, the bill would:
- Require tow companies to get specific authorization within the last 24 hours from the property owner or apartment complex owner before conducting a nonconsensual tow.
- Mandate the same fees be charged for nonconsensual tows as are charged for tows made with an owners consent
- Force tow companies to give the vehicle owner an itemized bill on demand
- Allow vehicle owners to get personal belongings out of the towed vehicle
- Create a unit within the Public Utilities Commission to adjudicate disagreements between vehicle owners and tow companies when cars are towed without consent. The new office would be able to order tow companies to reimburse owners and potentially repay legal fees.
A trade group representing Colorado tow companies- The Towing and Recovery Professionals of Colorado- is calling the proposed bill “premature.” In a written statement, the group said a Towing Task Force has not yet been given an opportunity to meet and make recommendations, “We respectfully request that any proposed bills during this legislative session be tabled so that the Towing Task Force can do the work for which it has been appointed.”
Hooton said the representatives have heard about the festering problem from constituents.
“This has been urgent for decades,” said Hooton.