Tractor-trailer being towed.

Tennessee has passed a new law aimed at curbing predatory towing after a Memphis company's practices trained a national spotlight on the problem.

Photo: Jack Roberts

The American Trucking Associations commended Tennessee on enacting comprehensive reforms to crack down on predatory towing companies that target heavy-duty trucks. 

The bill, SB1692/HB1731, was signed into law by Governor Bill Lee after passing the Tennessee Senate unanimously and the House overwhelmingly without a single dissenting vote.

An Illegal Towing Hotspot

Predatory towing entails any incident in which a towing operator severely overcharges; illegally seizes assets; damages assets by use of improper equipment; or illegitimately withholds release of a truck, trailer and/or cargo. 

Memphis has been a hotspot for illegal towing for several years.

Last fall, one trucker was prevented from paying a $275 booting fee, and her company was forced to pay thousands of dollars for the return of the vehicle. 

In a separate incident, a trucker was booted and blocked in while he was in the process of paying for parking. He waited in his truck for over 33 hours to prevent it from being towed.

Tennessee’s new law, which was drafted by Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and Representative Jake McCalmon (R-Franklin) with recommendations from the Tennessee Trucking Association, will protect truckers by prohibiting unlicensed individuals from booting vehicles anywhere in Tennessee.

The law limits booting to commercial lots only. In order to boot a vehicle in a commercial parking lot, a licensed parking attendant must be present, easily identifiable as an employee of the commercial lot and available to remove the boot within 45 minutes from point of contact.

The law caps the fee to remove a boot at $75.  Notice provisions will ensure drivers are aware that parking in a lot without pay could result in the vehicle being booted or towed.

An End to Asset Hostage-Taking Practices

Most noteworthy for the trucking and transportation industry, this legislation will make it illegal to boot or use a device to immobilize any truck and trailer in Tennessee that is clearly identified as a commercial vehicle with a USDOT number or with a commercial license plate issued for all classes of trucks and trailers described and registered pursuant to T.C.A. 55-4-113(a)(2) and T.C.A. 55-4-113(a)(5).

The legislation also ensures that vehicle owners are properly notified if their vehicle is towed, sold or demolished by a towing company and directs the Department of Revenue to create a motor vehicle portal.

The portal may be accessible by law enforcement, towing companies, vehicle owners and lien holders. The portal, to be active by July 2025, will be used for all public notifications of the sale of unclaimed vehicles.

“Predatory towing companies that hold equipment and cargo hostage with inflated, excessive and fraudulent invoices tarnish the reputation of the entire towing sector, said American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear. “They have taken advantage of the trucking industry for far too long, and we refuse to continue making these ransom payments any longer. ATA’s federation of state associations is prepared to fight back against unscrupulous companies that target our industry by injecting more accountability and fairness in state and local laws pertaining to towing.”

“Several high-profile predatory towing incidents in Tennessee have exposed how this egregious practice not only disrupts our state’s supply chain, but also costs truck owners thousands of dollars for each unwanted tow,” added said Tennessee Trucking Association President & CEO Donna England.  “We grateful to Majority Leader Johnson, Representative McCalmon and Tennessee legislators for listening to our concerns about this unfair tactic, and we thank Governor Lee for swiftly signing this bill into law.  We look forward to our continued partnership with our state’s leaders on commonsense reforms that promote justice, fairness and safety.  Trucking is the lynchpin of our economy, and we should be prioritizing policies that are welcoming to truckers who deliver the goods we count on every day.”

An Essential Partnership Damaged

There is an essential partnership between trucking companies and towing companies, ATA noted. Truckers depend on towers when there is a mechanical breakdown.

Unfortunately, when a truck is towed without the owner’s consent, rogue towing companies can exploit the situation. Truck drivers and trucking companies have little choice other than to pay the exorbitant bill since the truck is their livelihood and deliveries may be time sensitive. Legislation to reign in predatory towing creates guardrails that levels the playing field to ensure that both parties are treated fairly.

According to a recent study by the American Transportation Research Institute, the most common types of predatory towing are excessive rates, experienced by 82.7% of motor carriers, and unwarranted extra service charges, experienced by 81.8% of carriers.

A majority of carriers encountered additional issues such as truck release or access delays, cargo release delays, truck seizure without cause and tows misreported as consensual.

The trucking industry plays a significant role in the Tennessee economy and is a key provider of middle-class jobs, employing nearly 250,000 Tennesseans across the state. More than 90% of Tennessee communities rely exclusively on trucks to receive their goods.

About the author
News/Media Release

News/Media Release


Our editorial staff has selected and edited this news release for clarity and brand style because we believe it is relevant to our audience.

View Bio