REPORT TITLE:
Towing Companies


DESCRIPTION:
Requires commercial tow trucks to have a sign on each door of the
vehicle with the name and telephone number of the towing
business.  Provides that if the owner is unwilling or unable to
pay the "unhooking" fee, the vehicle may be towed.  (SB2725 HD2)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                                                        2725
THE SENATE                              S.B. NO.           H.D. 2
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2000                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            
                                                             
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                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT

RELATING TO TOWING COMPANIES. 


BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 1      SECTION 1.  Chapter 291C, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is
 
 2 amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated
 
 3 and to read as follows:
 
 4      "291C-     Signage requirements for commercial tow trucks.
 
 5 (a) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the registered
 
 6 owner or lessee of a commercial tow truck shall permanently affix
 
 7 on each door of the truck a sign with the name and telephone
 
 8 number of the tow business.  The letters and numbers used in the
 
 9 sign shall be no less than two inches in height.
 
10      (b)  As used in this section, "commercial tow truck" means a
 
11 truck that is equipped to tow a motor vehicle and is used to tow
 
12 for compensation."
 
13      SECTION 2.  Section 290-11, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is
 
14 amended by amending subsection (b) to read as follows:
 
15      "(b)  Towing companies engaged by the owner, occupant, or
 
16 person in charge of the property shall:
 
17      [(1) Have permanently affixed on each door of the towing
 
18           vehicle a sign with the name and telephone number of
 
19           the towing business.  The letters and numbers used in
 
20           the sign shall be no less than two inches in height;
 

 
Page 2                                                     2725
                                     S.B. NO.           H.D. 2
                                                        
                                                        

 
 1     (2)]  (1)  Maintain insurance coverage sufficient to protect
 
 2           owners of towed vehicles in the event of vehicle loss
 
 3           or damage due to towing;
 
 4     [(3)] (2)  Charge not more than $50 for a tow, or $60 for a
 
 5           tow using a dolly, plus a mileage charge of $5 per mile
 
 6           towed and $15 per day or fraction thereof for storage
 
 7           for the first seven days and $10 per day thereafter.
 
 8           When the tow occurs between the hours of six o'clock
 
 9           p.m. and six o'clock a.m., the towing company shall be
 
10           entitled to an overtime charge of $15.  If the vehicle
 
11           is in the process of being hooked up to the tow truck
 
12           and the owner appears on the scene before the vehicle
 
13           has been moved by the tow truck, the towing company
 
14           shall [be entitled to] unhook the vehicle upon payment
 
15           by the owner of an "unhooking" fee of not more than
 
16           $50.  If the owner is unwilling or unable to pay the
 
17           "unhooking" fee, the vehicle may be towed.  In the case
 
18           of a difficult hookup, meaning an above or below ground
 
19           hookup in a multilevel facility, a towing surcharge of
 
20           $25 shall be applicable;
 
21     [(4)] (3)  Determine the name of the legal owner and the
 
22           registered owner of the vehicle from the department of
 
23           transportation or the county department of finance.
 

 
Page 3                                                     2725
                                     S.B. NO.           H.D. 2
                                                        
                                                        

 
 1           The legal owner and the registered owner shall be
 
 2           notified in writing at the address on record with the
 
 3           department of transportation or with the county
 
 4           department of finance by registered or certified mail
 
 5           of the location of the vehicle, together with a
 
 6           description of the vehicle, within a reasonable period
 
 7           not to exceed twenty days following the tow.  The
 
 8           notice shall state:
 
 9           (A)  The maximum towing charges and fees allowed by
 
10                law;
 
11           (B)  The telephone number of the consumer information
 
12                service of the department of commerce and consumer
 
13                affairs; and
 
14           (C)  That if the vehicle is not recovered within thirty
 
15                days after the mailing of the notice, the vehicle
 
16                shall be deemed abandoned and will be sold or
 
17                disposed of as junk.
 
18           Where the owners have not been so notified, then the
 
19           owner may recover the owner's car from the towing
 
20           company without paying tow or storage fees; provided
 
21           that the notice need not be sent to a legal or
 
22           registered owner or any person with an unrecorded
 
23           interest in the vehicle whose name or address cannot be
 

 
Page 4                                                     2725
                                     S.B. NO.           H.D. 2
                                                        
                                                        

 
 1           determined.  Absent evidence to the contrary, a notice
 
 2           shall be deemed received by the legal or registered
 
 3           owner five days after the mailing.  A person, including
 
 4           but not limited to the owner's or driver's insurer, who
 
 5           has been charged in excess of the charges permitted
 
 6           under this section may sue for damages sustained and,
 
 7           if the judgment is for the plaintiff, the court shall
 
 8           award the plaintiff a sum not to exceed the amount of
 
 9           the damages and reasonable attorney's fees together
 
10           with the cost of suit.
 
11                If a tow operator fails to comply with the
 
12           insurance requirements of this section, no charges,
 
13           including storage charges, may be collected by the tow
 
14           operator as a result of the tow or as a condition of
 
15           the release of the towed vehicle.  Any person,
 
16           including the registered owner, lienholder, or insurer
 
17           of the vehicle, who has been injured by the tow
 
18           operator's failure to comply with this section is
 
19           entitled to sue for damages sustained.  If a judgment
 
20           is for the plaintiff, the court shall award the
 
21           plaintiff a sum of not less than $1,000 or threefold
 
22           damages sustained by the plaintiff, whichever sum is
 
23           the greater, and reasonable attorneys fees together
 
24           with the costs of suit;
 

 
Page 5                                                     2725
                                     S.B. NO.           H.D. 2
                                                        
                                                        

 
 1     [(5)] (4)  Provide, when a vehicle is recovered by the owner
 
 2           before written notice is sent by registered or
 
 3           certified mail, the owner with a receipt stating:
 
 4           (A)  The maximum towing charges and fees allowed by
 
 5                law; and
 
 6           (B)  The telephone number of the consumer information
 
 7                service of the department of commerce and consumer
 
 8                affairs; and
 
 9     [(6)] (5)  Accommodate payment by the owner for charges under
 
10           paragraph [(3)] (2) by cash and by either credit card
 
11           or automated teller machine located on the premises."
 
12     SECTION 3.  Section 291C-165.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is
 
13 amended by amending subsection (b) to read as follows:
 
14     "(b) The towing company shall determine the name of the lien
 
15 holder and the registered owner of the vehicle from the
 
16 department of transportation or the county department of finance.
 
17 The lien holder and the registered owner shall be notified by the
 
18 towing company in writing at the address on record with the
 
19 department of transportation or with the county department of
 
20 finance by registered or certified mail of the location of the
 
21 vehicle, together with a description of the vehicle, within a
 
22 reasonable period not to exceed twenty days following the tow.
 
23 The notice shall state:
 

 
Page 6                                                     2725
                                     S.B. NO.           H.D. 2
                                                        
                                                        

 
 1     (1)   The maximum towing charges and fees allowed by law;
 
 2     (2)   The telephone number of the county finance department
 
 3           that arranged for or authorized the tow; and 
 
 4     (3)   That if the vehicle is not recovered within thirty days
 
 5           after the mailing of the notice, the vehicle shall be
 
 6           deemed abandoned and will be sold or disposed of as
 
 7           junk.
 
 8 Any towing company engaged in towing pursuant to this section
 
 9 shall comply with the requirements of section 290-11(b)(1) [and
 
10 (2)].  When the vehicle is recovered after the tow by the
 
11 registered owner or lien holder, the party recovering the vehicle
 
12 shall pay the tow and storage charges which shall not exceed the
 
13 charges as provided by section 290-11(b) or the rates agreed upon
 
14 with the respective counties, whichever is lower, except that tow
 
15 operators may charge additional reasonable amounts for excavating
 
16 vehicles from off-road locations; provided that if the notice
 
17 required by this section was not sent within twenty days after
 
18 the tow, neither the registered owner nor the lien holder shall
 
19 be required to pay the tow and storage charges.  No notice shall
 
20 be sent to a legal or registered owner or any person with any
 
21 unrecorded interest in the vehicle whose name or address cannot
 
22 be determined.  A person, including but not limited to the
 
23 owner's or driver's insurer, who has been charged in excess of
 

 
Page 7                                                     2725
                                     S.B. NO.           H.D. 2
                                                        
                                                        

 
 1 the charges permitted under this section may sue for damages
 
 2 sustained, and, if the judgment is for the plaintiff, the court
 
 3 shall award the plaintiff a sum not to exceed the amount of these
 
 4 damages and reasonable attorney's fees together with the cost of
 
 5 the suit.
 
 6     If a tow operator fails to comply with the insurance
 
 7 requirements of section 290-11(b), no charges, including storage
 
 8 charges, may be collected by the tow operator as a result of the
 
 9 tow or as a condition of the release of the towed vehicle.  Any
 
10 person, including the registered owner, lien holder, or insurer
 
11 of the vehicle, who has been injured by the tow operator's
 
12 failure to comply with this section is entitled to sue for
 
13 damages sustained.  If a judgment is for the plaintiff, the court
 
14 shall award the plaintiff a sum of not less than $1,000 or
 
15 threefold damages sustained by the plaintiff, whichever sum is
 
16 greater, and the reasonable attorney's fee together with the cost
 
17 of suit."
 
18     SECTION 4.  Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed.
 
19 New statutory material is underscored.
 
20     SECTION 5.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval.