Arizona Senate approves tow rule changes

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 4/2/2015

An Arizona bill nearing passage at the statehouse covers towing operations in the state.

The Senate voted 26-1 on Thursday, April 2, to advance a bill that would require the Department of Public Safety to conduct rate surveys and create a heavy duty rotator recovery vehicle classification for towing services. The bill includes a requirement for towers to notify consumers of their right to file a complaint with the DPS if they believe they have been assessed unreasonable charges.

HB2416 now heads back to the House for consideration of changes. If approved there, it would move to Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association cautions the bill could potentially allow Arizona towing companies to charge hourly rates that could be among the highest in the nation while doing very little to protect consumers from inflated towing charges.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, said he communicated to Arizona House and Senate leaders that small-business truckers are increasingly subjected to inappropriate and unreasonable charges from towing companies engaged in non-consensual towing and recovery operations.

“By definition, a non-consensual tow provides little, if any, opportunity for consumers, in particular truckers involved in a roadside accident, to shop for a vendor or negotiate rates or services,” he said.

Matousek also said rate caps unfortunately become the de facto rate minimums which essentially legalize inflated charges. In addition, he said “adjudicating complaints without meaningful enforcement penalties for towing violations is ineffective.”

While data shows bad practices appear to be less common in Arizona, he said HB2416 has the potential to make the situation worse.

A separate towing bill has also advanced to the governor’s desk. HB2523 would permit vehicle owners to choose any towing company or tow operator to move a vehicle from a towing company’s storage premises to a repair facility.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Arizona, click here.

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