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.