OLYMPIA: State Representative Gerry Pollet’s (D-North Seattle) bill to cap how much towing companies can charge people when they impound cars is one step closer to Governor Gregoire’s desk. The bill passed the House of Representatives this afternoon on a 55-43 vote.
“Towing companies have been charging people more to recover their car after parking in the wrong place than a court is allowed to fine someone convicted of a misdemeanor crime,” said Rep. Pollet. “Parking your car in the wrong place for a few minutes is not a crime. It’s time our state laws reflect that fact.”
The measure was introduced earlier this session after numerous reports of price-gouging across the state. The Legislature heard from people who had been charged anywhere from $650 to $1,400 to reclaim their car after being towed from private parking lots. Rep. Pollet has worked with victims of price-gouging, as well as the towing industry, to curb these excessive fees without punishing companies with a responsible track record.
“We’ve worked hard to reach a consensus that ensures no family vehicle is held hostage by a fee that is equal to a month’s rent.”
By capping rates hundreds of dollars lower than what companies are charging, Rep. Pollet also believes that fewer people will lose their car when they are towed. Towing companies can sell impounded vehicles if they are held for over fifteen days.
Rep. Pollet also introduced an amendment to remove language added to the bill in the House Transportation Committee. This language would have restated that cities do not have the option to adopt their own lower rates. Seattle, in particular, has expressed some interest in such an option.
The bill was the freshman legislator’s first to be passed by the House of Representatives, and now moves to the Senate for their consideration.