Among other things, HB 179 will require towing and storage operators to maintain a rate sheet listing all fees related to vehicle or vessel recovery, removal, or storage.  -  HDT Graphic

Among other things, HB 179 will require towing and storage operators to maintain a rate sheet listing all fees related to vehicle or vessel recovery, removal, or storage.

HDT Graphic

The Florida Legislature unanimously passed legislation to reform predatory towing and recovery, which is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

House Bill 179, led by State Representative Melony Bell and State Senator Keith Perry, was a multi-year effort, addressing an issue that has been a top priority of the Florida Trucking Association.

“This is a huge victory for trucking in Florida [and] the trucking industry nationally, who have seen invoices as high as $200,000, and the motoring public, who fall victim to predatory towing companies,” said Florida Trucking Association President and CEO Alix Miller.

According to Miller, the final bill includes:

  • Significant new requirements for the establishment and publication of rates
  • Requirements for detailed and itemized invoices
  • A requirement for towers to accept multiple payment options
  • A new dispute resolution process for consumers and carriers to challenge excessive fees.

“FTA fought for these and other priority provisions,” added Miller.

More Details About Florida's Predatory Towing Law

HB 179 will require towing and storage operators to maintain a rate sheet listing all fees related to vehicle or vessel recovery, removal, or storage. They must post this rate sheet at their place of business and provide it upon request to vehicle or vessel owners, lienholders, insurance companies, or their agents.

Before attaching a vehicle or vessel to a wrecker, the operator must furnish the rate sheet to the owner or operator if present. Any fee charged beyond those listed on the rate sheet is considered unreasonable. 

A number of motor carriers have issues recovering personal property and undamaged trailers that have been towed and stored. In these instances, the inspection and release of the vehicle, vessel, trailer or personal property must be permitted within one hour and during normal business hours at the site where the vehicle, trailer or vessel is stored. The operator must accept government-issued photo identification and cannot require additional forms of identification to access and/or release the vehicle.

If signed by the governor, HB 179 will become effective on July 1, 2024.

The Predatory Towing Problem

According to a recent American Transportation Research Institute study, predatory billing was identified as the most common, with over 80% of respondents experiencing excessive rates and extra charges for towing and recovery services. 

Other state legislatures are contemplating similar bills, including Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Virginia, according to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

"Once a vehicle is towed, the financial burden on the owner can be substantial," said Eric De Campos, director of strategy, policy and government affairs for the National Insurance Crime Bureau when the bill was introduced late last year. 

"Towing fees, storage fees, and administrative charges quickly accumulate, creating a financial strain on individuals who have had their vehicle towed without their consent. These fees are often disproportionately high and may not accurately reflect the cost of the towing service.

"Fee transparency is a critical way to address this issue. Without a fee schedule in place and accessible to consumers, unscrupulous towers can charge tens of thousands of dollars for routine tows or simply for sweeping glass and vehicle fluid from the ground and billing for a hazmat cleanup."

About the author
Staff Writer

Staff Writer

Editorial

Our team of enterprising editors brings years of experience covering the fleet industry. We offer a deep understanding of trends and the ever-evolving landscapes we cover in fleet, trucking, and transportation.  

View Bio
0 Comments