Wyoming House approves new towing rules

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/13/2015

An effort to help ensure that truckers and other drivers traveling through Wyoming are not victimized by dishonest tow truck operators is moving ahead at the statehouse.

The House voted 44-16 to advance a bill that would create new standards for towing and recovery companies to follow during nonconsensual towing and recovery operations. HB106 awaits further consideration in the Senate Transportation, Highways, and Military Affairs Committee.

Sponsored by Rep. David Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, the bill includes a provision to authorize the Wyoming Department of Transportation to oversee a rotation list for nonconsensual towing. Specifically, procedures would be set for operations that want to be included on a wrecker rotation list.

Penalties would also be imposed for violating the standards and procedures set by the state DOT. In addition, towing and recovery companies would be required to prove their fees are fair.

Operations found to be in violation by law enforcement would be removed from the rotation list for one year.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the Wyoming Trucking Association support the push for changes in the state’s towing rules. OOIDA recently sent a letter of support to Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Curt Meier, R-LaGrange.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA’s director of state legislative affairs, said the legislation would provide new consumer protections for all travelers driving on highways in the state.

He said that changes are needed in Wyoming and in many other states across the country because “small-business truckers are increasingly subjected to inappropriate and unreasonable charges from fraudulent towing companies engaged in nonconsensual towing and recovery operations.”

Matousek said that by definition, “a nonconsensual tow provides zero opportunity for consumers, in particular truckers involved in a roadside accident, to shop for a vendor or negotiate rates or services provided.”

“This frequently leads to unjustifiable towing and recovery invoices that reach tens of thousands of dollars, which is financially and emotionally devastating to truckers.”

He also points out that existing Wyoming law lacks any efficient or effective recourse for challenging or disputing towing and recovery charges.

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