Ohio House Passes Towing Legislation
Common-sense reforms to help both consumers and towing companies
May 18, 2016
[ Ron Young Home | Ron Young Press ]

Legislation passed through the Ohio House of Representatives today that aim to make needed upgrades and improvements to state law to benefit both consumers and towing companies. House Bill 341 builds upon provisions that were included in Senate Bill 274 from the previous General Assembly.

Among the components of the legislation are several common-sense protections for consumers, such as allowing vehicle owners to pay a drop fee by using a credit card. Additionally, a towing service or storage facility will be required to inform owners of towed vehicles that they may dispute the lawfulness of a tow through civil action.

“The services that the tow industry provides are invaluable to commerce, safety, law enforcement, and recreation,” said Rep. Ron Young (R-Leroy Twp.), who sponsored the bill. “House Bill 341 strikes an appropriate balance between providing protection for the consumer and supplying proper regulation of the tow industry.”

The bill also addresses three main concerns shared by the towing industry. First, to reduce the abundance of junk cars on their lots, HB 341 allows a repair facility, towing service or storage facility to obtain a salvage certificate of title (for destruction only) in order to more easily dispose of the vehicle. In such a case, the vehicle must be valued under $1,500, be apparently inoperable and impossible to restore for highway use.

Second, the bill allows entities to restore losses on towing and storage fees when remitting payment to the clerk of courts. Under current law, towers and storage facilities must pay the clerk of courses the value of the vehicle to gain title. However, because they are unable to deduct towing and storage fees from the value, they often lose money for those services.

Finally, the legislation institutes a two-tiered system for addressing towing violations. The current “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” system for dealing with violations is inflexible and does not account for the varying degrees of seriousness for violations. House Bill 341 recognizes that discrepancy and breaks it up into two categories. More serious, or “major,” violations include failing to release a vehicle for a “drop fee.” “Minor” violations could be something like failing to provide a receipt.

HB 341 now awaits consideration in the Ohio Senate.

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