Los Angeles: Beginning in 2007, tow trucks in Los Angeles will once again be regulated, and the Los Angeles Police Commission Investigation Division will be the regulator.
In 1994, the towing industry was deregulated by the federal government. While the majority of tow operators are honest business owners, some unscrupulous tow operators were functioning virtually unchecked during the deregulated period. Often, tow operators would "lie in wait" on private parking lots and ignore California Vehicle Code regulations. Terms such as "predatory," "bandit," and "rogue" tows became common, and unfortunately, tarnished the entire tow industry.
California Assembly Bill 2210, sponsored by Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, will change how tow operators function in California. This change in legislation includes several provisions, however the major features are as follows:
Allow municipalities to license and regulate tow companies and their drivers. In Los Angeles, this process will be handled by Los Angeles Police Commission Investigation Division (CID). All tow companies and their drivers will be required to obtain permits from CID beginning January 1st. Enforcement of this requirement will begin in April.
Require that the property owner or lessee provide written authorization for a vehicle to be removed, and that the tow company provide fact of the removal of a vehicle, the grounds for the removal, and the place where the vehicle has been removed.
Require, that upon a vehicle owner’s request, a tow company or its driver, must immediately and unconditionally release a vehicle that is not yet removed from private property and in transit.
Require that tow companies accept credit cards.
Require that tow companies notify the local law enforcement agency that the vehicle has been towed within 30 minutes of the removal.
Require that a tow company’s California Highway Patrol approved rates be made available for inspection and copying within 24 hours of request.
In the last two years, CID has conducted several successful stings on "rogue" tow companies, and with the City Attorney’s diligence, numerous cases have been filed on these types of tow companies. The media has also assisted greatly in bringing this issue to light, and actually brought it to the level of legislative change. In many ways, Los Angeles has led the way to this victory for California motorists.
IN ORDER TO GAIN COMPLIANCE TOW OPERATORS MUST OBTAIN A POLICE COMMISSION PERMIT BY APRIL 1, 2007, OR THEY MAY BE SUBJECT TO CIVIL, CRIMINAL, OR ADMINISTRATIVE SANCTIONS. PERMIT INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC AT 213-485-8081.