OLYMPIA: Representative Gerry Pollet (D-Seattle) has introduced his first piece of prime-sponsored legislation. House Bill 2372 comes following reports of Washington residents being charged rates upward of $1,000 for a single tow.
The measure puts in place important safeguards for those who fall into the unfortunate circumstance of having their vehicle impounded. The bill language caps towing fees at $250 for those who reclaim their automobiles within twenty-four hours of being towed.
“People make honest mistakes in a rush to get to work or pick up their children” said Rep. Pollet. “Towing companies shouldn’t get to hold them hostage by charging them rates comparable to a month’s rent.”
Under Rep. Pollet’s bill, the Utilities and Transportation Commission would be granted the authority to cap towing fees based on several logistical factors. These rates may differ across the state. It also creates an avenue for legal recourse for those who fall victim to towing charges in excess of the newly created caps.
For those who request a tow truck, the legislation requires that the towing company disclose their rates in writing. Like any other good or service, the customer will know the cost before making a purchase.
“These fixes will provide much-needed consumer protection to an industry in need of regulation” said Rep. Deb Eddy (D-Kirkland), a co-sponsor of the bill.
Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat has highlighted several cases of price-gouging by towing companies in the past few months, with some charges running as high as $2,000. The pieces are available here, here and here.
“I applaud the Times for bringing this issue to public conscience” added Rep. Pollet.
The legislature convened on Monday for a 60-day session, and Rep. Pollet is optimistic about the measure reaching the Governor’s desk before the March deadline.