Legislation aimed at ending predatory tow truck practices authored by Senator George Runner
(R-Antelope Valley) and Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) passed the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee this week. “The committee agreed with our legislation that will curb the unscrupulous towing practices that exploit car owners just to increase these rogue companies’ profits at the car owners’ expense. At times, car owners are held hostage by these exploits which can cause significant financial and logistical hardships,” said Senator Runner. Senate Bill 1593 is a comprehensive proposal to provide consumer protection and make it difficult for rogue tow truck companies to operate in California. The legislation will allow all law enforcement to “tow the tower” if the tow truck is in violation of the law. For example, currently all tow trucks must carry a motor carrier permit and this legislation will additionally require tow truck companies to secure bonding to help ensure that towing companies are legitimate businesses. It will further provide consumers financial compensation when they are a victim of unlawful predatory towing practices. Senator Runner continues, “There are many good tow truck operators in California and in our community. Unfortunately, rogue operators have hurt the industry at the expense of car owners. This legislation will end these predatory practices by putting more teeth into enforcement in order to better protect consumers.”
SB 1593 also has many additional consumer protections. For example, the legislation clarifies tow truck companies must accept credit cards and tow truck companies cannot gouge motorists for releasing vehicles after normal business hours tows by placing a cap on to how much they can charge. These provisions will be more heavily enforced by allowing law enforcement to “tow the tower”, and increase fines and penalties for violations of the law so these rogue companies do not just chalk up a fine or penalty as merely the “cost of doing business”. There will also be education components for tow truck companies to ensure they know and comply with the laws. SB 1593 passed the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee by a 10-1 vote. The bill will be heard in Senate Judiciary Committee in early May.