OOIDA weighs in on Colorado towing proposal

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | Monday, March 07, 2016

As part of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s continued fight against inflated nonconsensual towing bills, the Association is weighing in on the Colorado Public Utility Commission’s proposed regulations.

While OOIDA supports the commission’s proposal, the Association recommended a few changes in a formal letter sent on Friday, March 4.

“In Colorado, and in many other states across the country, small-business truckers are increasingly subjected to unreasonable charges from towing companies engaged in nonconsensual towing and recovery operations,” OOIDA Director of State Legislative Affairs Mike Matousek wrote. “Regulating this segment of the industry can be very difficult. OOIDA’s goal is to prevent dishonest companies from taking advantage of truckers while not inconveniencing those towing and recovery professionals that already do things the right way.”

The Colorado Public Utility Commission’s proposed changes to towing regulations include defining “nonconsensual tow,” providing maximum hourly rates, and declaring that a fuel surcharge is unnecessary.

“They’re just kind of cleaning things up and tightening things up,” Matousek said. “Their definition of nonconsensual is great. They clarify that law enforcement tows aren’t consent tows. That’s an important point.”

OOIDA is supportive of Colorado’s efforts to improve nonconsensual towing regulations, but offered some comments to improve the proposal.

Among OOIDA’s proposed amendments are determining a civil penalty for towing violations. OOIDA’s suggestion reads as follows: “a violation of any provision of this rule, any future rule developed by the Commission … may result in the assessment of a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for each violation.”

“This would simplify the civil penalty section while ensuring the Commission has the flexibility to penalize offending towing carriers an amount that more closely reflects overcharges,” Matousek wrote. “In trucking, in particular when commercial truck insurance is involved, invoices are commonly inflated by thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.”

Other suggested changes by OOIDA include that the burden of proof to show that the charges are just, fair and reasonable should rest with the tow carrier and that the maximum hourly rates should be based on the equipment used rather than the weight of the vehicle.

Matousek will testify at the proposal’s public hearing April 27 in Denver.

“The first point is the fact that they’re doing something is a good thing,” Matousek said. “The changes that they are proposing would be a good thing even if they don’t accept any of our changes. It would still be a step in the right direction.”

OOIDA’s complete letter to the commission can be found here.

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