Friday, August 16, 2013

TDLR Says Bexar Towing Owes $98,090 for Overcharging Scandal

Bexar Towing of San Antonio news story.

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, submits this brief as requested by the Court at the close of the hearing in chief and would respectfully show the Court as follows:


l. During the hearing a limited stipulation was offered and accepted by the parties
regarding the overcharge allegations. The parties stipulated that in these 66
specific cases, Respondent performed the private property tow of the alleged
vehicle on the alleged date and charged $250 for the tow of the alleged vehicle.
2. The Department then provided testimony from Investigator Jennifer Harless who
testified that the City of San Antonio has Ordinance No. 96242, which restricts
the charge for nonconsent tows in the City of San Antonio to $85 for standard
passenger vehicles. The relevant portions of the ordinance were admitted into
evidence as State’s Exhibit F.
3. The Department next presented evidence that TEXAS OCCUPATIONS CODE
§2308.2065(a)(2) authorizes the Department to enforce restrictions on nonconsent
tow fees imposed by political subdivisions of the state, including the City of San
Antonio. ~
4. The evidence further proved that an overcharge of tow fees is a Class D violation
according to the Department’s Enforcement Plan. The Enforcement Plan was
admitted as State’s Exhibit E. According to the Department’s Enforcement Plan,
the penalty for a Class D first violation is $1,200 for each violation. With 66
proven overcharge violations at the rate of $1,200 each, the administrative penalty
for these violations is $79,200.
5. The evidence also showed that TEX. OCC. CODE §2308.2065(a)(2) provides for a
refund or reimbursement to the overcharged vehicle owner/operator. The
evidence proved that the overcharge amounted to $165 for each of the 66
overcharge cases. Thus, the total refunds or reimbursements would be $10,890.
The refunds are due to the vehicle owners and operators who were towed and


The Department charged the Respondent with two violations of the Department’s
“drop fee” rules which are set forth in 16 TEX. ADMIN. CODE §86.455.

Respondent was limited in the amount to charge for dropping the vehicle;
however, since the vehicle owner appeared at the scene prior to the completion of
“hooking up the vehicle” , the Respondent was not entitled to charge anything. In
both situations, the Respondent’s drivers completed the towing process and
removed the vehicles from the parking facilities where they were parked without
dropping the vehicles. If the vehicle is not completely ready for transport and
removal at the time the owner of the vehicle appears, the vehicle must be released
at no charge. This did not happen in either case. 

A violation of l6 TEX. ADMIN. CODE §86.455 is a Class F violation according to the Department’s Enforcement Plan. The administrative penalty for a first Class F violation is $2,000. 

In the case set forth in detail in Paragraph No. 53, the tow operator offered to drop
the vehicle for $120 which is also in excess of the City of San Antonio’s
Ordinance on “drop fees” which is contained in Ordinance No. 96242.
Therefore, even if the drop fee could have been lawfully charged, $120 was too
much. The ordinance limited the fee to $85.

The Department also alleged and presented evidence that Respondent towed a
1968 Chevrolet from a parking facility in San Antonio where adequate and proper
signage did not exist at the precise time of the tow on April l5, 2012. This
allegation was referenced in Paragraph No. 13 of the First Amended Notice of
Hearing, the live pleading at the hearing.

Towing without proper signage from a parking facility is a violation of TEX. OCC.
CODE §2308.30l et seq and is a Class F violation according to the Department’s
Enforcement Plan. This Class F violation results in an administrative penalty of
$2,000 for a first violation.

Additionally, the Department alleged that Respondent performed a non-consent
tow of a 2011 Hyundai Sonata from a street in San Antonio, as alleged in
Paragraph No. 35 of the live pleadings. 

Towing from a public street, as defined by the TEXAS TRANSPORTATION CODE
§251.002, is only allowed when it is directed by law enforcement unless a
driveway or an entrance or exit or a fire lane is blocked. The evidence at the
hearing affirmatively showed that there was no authority to tow the vehicle from
in front of the vehicle owner’s residence. The vehicle was legally parked on the
street in front of the owner’s residence.

This unauthorized tow from a public street is a violation of TEX. OCC. CODE
§2308.255 and is a Class F violation according to the Department’s Enforcement
Plan. The administrative penalty for this violation is $2,000 for a first violation.


WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Department requests the ALJ to find
that the Department proved the allegations against the Respondent at the hearing; that the
Respondent overcharged in 66 different instances, resulting in an administrative penalty for those violations of $79,200 and restitution to the vehicle owners in the total amount of $10,890; that there were two other cases where the Respondent failed and refused to comply with the
administrative rules concerning “dropping of vehicles” prior to a comprehensive tow of the
vehicle, incurring administrative penalties of $2,000 each for a total for these violations of
$4,000; that there were two other unauthorized tows from a public street and a parking facility,
resulting in administrative penalties of $4,000

I would say John Deloach could be out of business having to pay $98K.