State Representatives Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) and Heather Bishoff (D-Blacklick) yesterday introduced legislation to boost Ohioans’ protections against predatory tow truck abuse.
“For decades, vehicle owners in Ohio, especially college students, have been victimized by predatory towing practices such as bogus charges, no evidence of improper parking, unfair payment practices, and outright lies about Ohio’s existing right to stop tows already in progress,” said Duffey. “Now is the time to pass legislation to establish consumer protections for Ohio vehicle owners against predatory towing.”
Features of HB 382 include:
• Making explicitly illegal any and all bogus “administrative” charges or other fees not explicitly authorized in the Ohio Revised Code;
• Requiring signage at tow-away zones to clearly explain what qualifies as an “authorized vehicle”, including the purpose and hours for which vehicles may park;
• Providing a 24-hour “grace period” for supplemental storage fees, also known as overnight fees;
• Requiring that towed vehicles travel no further than 15 miles if possible or 25 miles maximum;
• Requiring tow trucks to accept major credit cards for payment, both onsite at the towing spot if caught in progress and at the storage facility once the tow has been completed;
• Prior to towing, a tow truck service must take at least one photograph of the vehicle showing it is parked illegally, and shall record the time and date of the photograph;
• “Stop, Drop and Pay Half” - Requiring the tow truck operator to actively notify the vehicle owner of their existing legal right to pay half of the normal tow charge for release if caught in progress;
• Tow trucks will be required to display business phone numbers on both sides of their trucks
• The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) will be provided rule-making authority to aid in the enforcement and implementation of the provisions in this bill.
“Great tow truck operators exist in Ohio, but they cannot compete with the unfair practices of predatory companies,” said Bishoff. “It is time to ensure Ohioans receive fair treatment as vehicle owners and to ensure that good operators are not put at a disadvantage compared to those who operate illegally.”
HB 382 will now be referred to a standing House committee for further consideration.
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