OOIDA asks West Virginia commission to revise tow definition

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 9/30/2015

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is calling on the West Virginia Public Service Commission to revise its definition of a “third-party” or “nonconsensual” tow.

OOIDA has about 1,000 members residing in West Virginia, and thousands more that travel through the state.

The Association has submitted a formal request to commission Chairman Michael Albert to change the towing definition.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, said the commission has broad regulatory authority and oversight responsibility for wrecker operators domiciled in the state. However, he said as it relates to wrecker rates and a driver’s ability to challenge potential overcharges, the commission is limited to reviewing third-party tows.

Charges for private or consent tows are not regulated by the commission.

“When the motoring public solicits the help of first responders or emergency services, especially during a motor vehicle accident, under no circumstances should they concurrently forfeit important consumer protections,” Matousek said.

He also said that drivers involved in wrecks that rely on law enforcement for help are not consenting to “limitless towing and recovery rates” and “they generally have no opportunity to negotiate services or compare prices among multiple carriers.

“They are simply asking for help and the rates that wrecker operators charge should be regulated by the commission.”

OOIDA is asking the commission to change the definition of a third-party or nonconsensual tow to include the following:

“Whenever an owner or operator of a vehicle requests a law enforcement officer or other public agency to initiate a tow, such tow shall be considered third-party and nonconsensual and subject to West Virginia Public Service Commission tow rates.”

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