North Dakota Senate endorses new towing rules

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/19/2015

The North Dakota Senate approved a bill that targets vehicles obstructing highways and vehicles illegally parked along roadways.

The Senate voted 41-6 to advance a bill to the House that would permit police to move a stopped, standing or parked vehicle to a more secure location as long as it is practicable to move the vehicle. Exceptions to the rule would be made for disabled cars and trucks.

Sen. David Rust, R-Tioga, said the new rule would allow police to remove any property or cargo from a vehicle that is blocking the roadway “or otherwise endangering public safety.”

He said the changes would cover any vehicle that is sitting along the roadside for an extended period of time and on occasions following a wreck.

“The whole idea is to get them removed as quickly as possible so we don’t have traffic blocked up for an extended period of time,” Rust said on the Senate floor prior to the chamber’s vote.

In most instances, he said police could simply use their patrol car to “gently move the vehicle off to the side of the road.”

Police and Department of Transportation personnel would be exempt from any liability for damage to a vehicle or its load as long as “reasonable care” was used in the removal process.

A provision was dropped from the bill in committee that included tow truck operators on the exemption list.

Officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association welcome the omission of tow truck operators from the protected list.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, said there is no circumstance where a wrecker service should be held harmless for damage that they cause to a motor vehicle, its cargo and the surrounding area.

“Small-business truckers invest a lot of money in their equipment and if damage is caused to it the offending party should be held liable,” Matousek said.

The bill, SB2352, awaits assignment to committee in the House.

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