North Dakota changes towing rule

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Friday, April 24, 2015

Vehicles that obstruct highways and vehicles illegally parked along North Dakota roadways are covered in a new law.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed into law a bill permitting 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 allows police to remove any property or cargo from a vehicle that is blocking the roadway “or otherwise endangering public safety.”

He said the changes cover any vehicle 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 during recent floor discussion on the issue.

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

Previously SB2352, the new law exempts police and Department of Transportation personnel from any liability for damage to a vehicle or its load as long as “reasonable care” was used in the removal process.

The change takes effect Aug. 1.

A provision that was removed from the bill while it wound its way through the statehouse 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, previously said there is no circumstance where wrecker services 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.”

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