Heavy-duty trucks to be protected under Colorado towing regulations

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | 8/3/2016

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission plans to protect heavy-duty trucks in its regulations of nonconsensual tows. Previously, the regulations applied only to light-duty tows.

“Truck drivers will now have similar protection as every other motorist in Colorado,” said Mike Matousek, OOIDA’s director of state legislative affairs. “The proposed rules still have a few procedural hurdles, but we fully expect them to go through.”

The regulations could go into effect as soon as 20 days.

The Colorado legislature created a towing task force in 2014 and provided its recommendations to the public utilities commission. From those recommendations, the commission made a proposal. OOIDA got involved in the rulemaking process and offered its formal recommendations in March and April of this year.

Matousek, who also testified in a hearing on the matter in April, said some of the positives in the regulations include a strong definition of “nonconsensual tow,” reasonable maximum per hour wrecker/rotator fees, prohibited fuel surcharges, strengthened invoicing requirements, a reasonable standard for what is necessary in a tow/recovery, and a provision to address what is referred to as double-billing.

In the definition of “nonconsensual tow” the commission specifies that tows ordered by law enforcement are included even when the owner or operator of the vehicle consents to a law enforcement official ordering a tow.

The regulations call for specific information on the invoice, such as the time of dispatch, the time the truck leaves the yard or other staging location, the time the tow truck arrives on scene, the time tow truck leaves the scene, and the time the vehicle is unhooked.

In order to discourage overcharging, the commission retained language that says the towing carrier shall not charge or retain any fees or charges for the services it performs if it is found in violation of state statute or the commission’s rules. This would likely be applied only to the most serious of violations.

The regulations also guard against double-billing by not allowing additional fees for towing a tractor and trailer together.

“What we will occasionally see is that when a tractor and trailer are being towed in combination, it would be billed as if the tractor and trailer were towed separately,” Matousek said. “This language is pretty significant.”

Matousek said the most important aspect of the regulations is that truck drivers and OOIDA will now have the ability to file a complaint regarding possible overcharges.

“The biggest thing is that truck drivers are now treated like everyone else,” Matousek said.

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