Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Changes Coming Soon To Address Corrupt Towing Companies & Wrecker Drivers

This week has been somewhat productive; the Texas House of Representatives passed HB 2571 in a record vote 147 to 0. In case some of you are not aware of what HB 2571 is, its legislation aimed at addressing predatory towing practices by wrecker drivers, parking facility owners or managers and towing companies who prey on motorists daily.

These predatory towing issues is not new, rather we have known about the problem for several years, we just haven't had legislators who thought the issues were not of importance.

One of the key factors in both HB 2571 and SB 1431, is the criminal penalty has been increased from the current Class C misdemeanor to a Class B misdemeanor. This factor in itself is going have a major impact on these criminal enterprises purporting themselves as towing companies, as any law enforcement person can arrest violators immediately, instead of issuing a ticket, as done now.

Also, another request of mine, which both the Senate and House agreed, is to increase damages for statutory violation against the parking facility, from $300 to $1000 plus three times what was paid to retrieve vehicle from storage lot.

Therefore, I am quite pleased with both versions House and Senate, except to provision that would allow a registered sex offender to obtain a license.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Towing Legislation Soon to Become Law

I recall back mid January when our legislators were getting ready for the session, the best time I have always found, to visit with certain members to sponsor legislation aimed at protecting consumers, being vehicles or operators.Before the session began, many legislators' constituents were being financially victimized by towing companies and vehicle storage facilities in the districts.

Something had to be done, to stop the vicious assault on Texan by towing companies, in some places in Texas, like Montgomery, Williamson, Tarrant, Jefferson, Galveston, Harris and many more refused to acknowledge criminal illegal towing was happening in their jurisdiction.

While non-consent towing is a necessary solution for keeping fire lanes cleared and parking spaces open in downtown areas, there’s a darker, criminal element to the towing industry. And, county commissioners and peace officers can play important roles in combating those who are abusing the system and victimizing residents. Commissioners courts can regulate non-consent tow and storage fees in their jurisdictions, and peace officers can investigate claims from offense reports.

“All law enforcement agencies need to do that. Take a report for $20,000 after their cars were hijacked from apartment complex or business parking lots, even though owners of those lots never asked for the car to be towed. I've heard of tow truck companies setting traps for drivers, parking vehicles in private lots so that it appears as though cars there won’t be towed, then watching the lot until it begins filling up and towing all the takers.

I list his cell phone number on our Web site just so I can give information to victims. I estimated that I talked to 15,000 people last year, all complaining about illegal tows or excessive fees (my site generates more than 10,000 page views a month). Johnson gives callers standard advice: Take photographs of the parking lot and signage, and file an offense report with the local 311 service or law enforcement agency. Often,I hears reports from residents who say they were told they can’t file an offense report because it’s private property or a civil complaint. I always tells victims that an illegal tow is a criminal offense and only the courts can decide whether a crime has been committed.

“When you call 3-1-1, you tell them you want to file an offense report for an illegal tow, you tell them the space you parked in was an illegal tow. You don’t know whether it’s illegal until a detective investigates it.”

BILL ANALYSIS SB 1431, I encourage everyone to read it and tell you friends to call your legislators and urge them to vote "FOR" in law. It will make a difference, law enforcement will no longer be able to standby and allow a wrecker driver to commit a Class B Misdemeanor offense.

The day is coming when people like Dick and Amy Milstead Ellzey, Joann and Dan Messina, John Deloach, Thomas Mora, Jess Horton and drivers with their mindset, will be handcuffed and taken to jail for violating State Law.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Another Texas Towing & Storage Advisory Board Member Violating Vehicle Storage Facility Act

Now, another TDLR (Texas Department of Licensing & Regulations) Advisory Board Member, Joann Messina has been found to be violating the very rules and regulations they advise the very agency that regulates them. In the latest incident, which appears to be standard practice for her unscrupulous business, is not providing the name of the person, their address, city, state, zip code and phone number of the person who authorized the removal of a nonconsent tow. Messina like Milstead-Ellzey and other unscrupulous towing company operators who prey on Texans, should be ashamed of themselves.

By looking at the receipt provided to the consumer, being the victim in this case, Messina's company failed to provide the full printed name of the tow truck operator, his/her TDLR license number and the name of the "person" who authorized the tow, both violations of State Law.

Messina and other towing companies do anything to shield who authorized the removal by providing the name of the parking facility, instead of the required full name of the person. Without this information, completing the written request for a tow hearing is often filed incomplete. The majority of towing companies in Texas operate a very legitimate business, but towing companies like Southwest Auto Tow, Milstead, Central, Assured, A&A, Ideal and many others operate knowing they violate State law daily.

Messina should resign from this advisory board with her cohort Amy Milstead, neither follow State Law and victimize the public on a daily basis. Hopefully HB2571 and SB1431 is signed into the law by the Governor, so people like these two can be arrested for their continued criminal conduct!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Central Towing Inc Wrecker Driver Pleads Guilty

In the latest illegal towing incident involving Central Towing Inc, their driver Jose T Flores, TDLR license number 8465 plead guilty this morning in Austin Municipal Court for towing vehicles illegally without the consent of owner or operator from the parking lot of 900 West 23rd Street.

This continuing criminal conduct by Central Towing Inc preying on Texas consumers for financial gain is exposing their dishonesty.

The cause number to this latest case in Municipal Court is 6929709.

It was through the outreach that brought this case to Court, both through the investigative process of the Austin Police Department Wrecker Enforcement Unit, the victim and Texas Towing Compliance.