Provo City officials approve new tow ordinance

Posted at 10:27 PM, Oct 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-02 00:27:55-04

PROVO CITY -- In a unanimous vote the Provo City Council amended an ordinance, requiring tow operators to provide proof that drivers have parked illegally.  They must now display a digital photo of the violation before drivers pay to get their car back.

Provo Mayor John Curtis admits it's a first step towards addressing so-called predatory towing.

"I view this as this as low hanging fruit," said Curtis who feels it's a step worth taking.

"Why not in today's world of smart phones, it's not gonna cost them anything to document this, why not document it and then show that evidence to the person whose car has been booted or towed?  If the tow company is right, they're simply solidifying their case," Curtis said.

There were no tow operators at Tuesday's city council meeting.  Bob Thompson, Vice President, Utah Professional Towers Association, said the towers have been left out of the conversation and believes the new requirement is out of line.

"These mayors of these cities are out of hand, they're requiring stuff without input from the towing association or industry," Thompson said. "Do they have to show proof to write a parking ticket?  Why should we have to show proof of the vehicles?" Thompson asked.

The revised ordinance also states if motorists remove a boot or a vehicle hooked up to a tow truck, they can face a misdemeanor charge, which includes possible fines and jail time.

The city council is also expected to return in November and may possibly require property owners to actually call tow companies if they want an illegally parked vehicle removed.

"What that does is it means the tow company can't prowl,” Curtis said. “It means if a car is illegally parked the property owner must call the tow company and they come get that car so the tow company just can't come through and look for violations."

The revised ordinance will take effect when the mayor signs it so it may take several days for the changes to take effect.