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Predatory towing bill awaiting Gov’s signature

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Posted at 5:54 PM, Mar 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-18 19:54:03-04

PROVO, Utah - Governor Gary Herbert will now decide if towing companies should follow new rules.

Late last week, House Bill 115, also known as 'Towing Amendments,' passed the Senate unanimously.

The law requires towing companies to accept credit payments and the Utah Department of Transportation will decide this summer if the $145 tow fee is fair.

In light of additional overnight storage fees and other costs, it's common to pay well over $200 to get your car back after it's been towed. That's a frequent complaint near Brigham Young University.

"You can ask any student here and they'll tell you it's a problem," said BYU student Justin Terrance. "I think any kind of reform is good."

If the governor signs the law, cities could also create their own towing ordinances as long as they don't conflict with state law. Provo Mayor John Curtis has a "playbook" of ideas as he called it. One idea is to force property owners, not tow truck drivers, to make the final call whether someone is towed.

"What I'm trying to do is separate the person making the decision from the person making the money," said Curtis.

"As many people as I've spoken with who've had their cars towed, I do think we need some regulation," said former Utah representative Trisha Beck, who is related to Mayor Curtis.

Beck heard complaints about so-called "predatory towing" back in the late 2000s when she was in her second term as a Utah representative.

Towing operators believe the new rules simply reward those who are breaking the law.

"Towers are not the problem. First of all, you've got the person who parks illegally when the signage tells them they can not," said Neal Schultz of the Ogden-Weber Towing Association.

Schultz made the statement during a Senate committee hearing before the bill passed but lawmakers overwhelming approved the legislation.

Both Mayor Curtis and Beck admit HB 115 doesn't solve predatory towing but they do feel it's a meaningful first step.

While Curtis doesn't believe Governor Herbert is opposed to the bill, the governor has not taken an official position on it.

Related story:
Supporters say predatory towing bill is a step in the right direction