State and local governments would have broad authority to regulate tow truck operators under a bill introduced in the House of Representatives last week.

The bill, introduced by Virginia Congressman Jim Moran, restores powers that localities had before 1994, when a bill regulating interstate carriers had the unintended effect of stripping state and local governments of their power to regulate towing services. In response to complaints about tow truck operators, Congress amended the law in 1995 to permit regulations with respect to price only. That still leaves other aspects of towing services, such as method of payment, bonding and hours of operation, completely unregulated, Moran says.
"The overwhelming majority of tow truck operators are fair and honest businesspeople who perform a vital service," Moran said. "Unfortunately, there are other operators who are not. This bill targets the small number of rogue tow truck operators who too often give the entire industry a bad name."
Moran said he became aware of the severity of the problem in a meeting earlier this year with the Arlington County Board. In the last two years, Arlington County received more than 160 complaints about towing, ranging from the rates charged to theft and rude behavior.