Registration Of Tow Trucks

Requires all tow trucks to have special license plates to ensure
that that they meet the same standards for insurance and
registration as commercial fleet vehicles.  (SD1)

THE SENATE                              S.B. NO.           S.D. 1
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2000                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            

                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT



 1      SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that it is important for
 2 all vehicles to have proper vehicle registration and insurance
 3 for the protection and safety of the citizens of Hawaii.
 4 Currently, commercial fleet vehicles are required to have special
 5 license plates to identify and show that they have proper
 6 registration and insurance.  The purpose of this Act is to
 7 require tow trucks to have special license plates to ensure that
 8 all vehicles designated as tow trucks meet the same standards of
 9 registration and insurance verification as commercial fleet
10 vehicles. 
11      SECTION 2.  Chapter 286, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended
12 by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to
13 read as follows:
14      "286-    Permanent registration of a tow truck.
15 (a)  Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the
16 registered owner or lessee of a vehicle designed to operate as a
17 commercial tow truck shall apply to the director of finance of
18 the county in which the vehicle is to be operated, for permanent
19 license plates, decals, and registration cards; provided that the

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 1 vehicle shall not be registered in any other state.
 2      (b)  The application for initial issuance of permanent
 3 registration shall be filed in a form that the director of
 4 finance requires.  Upon initial application and payment of the
 5 required fees, the director of finance shall issue a
 6 distinguishing license plate or decal which indicates the tow
 7 truck has been registered under this section.
 8      (c)  Upon submission of the renewal of registration form and
 9 payment of normally required fees, the license plates, decals,
10 and registration cards issued pursuant to this section for the
11 vehicle shall remain valid; provided that a tow truck registered
12 under this section may be taken out of registration as a
13 commercial tow truck upon notification of the director of finance
14 by the registered owner on the proper form, and if the
15 distinguishing license plates, decals, and registration cards
16 issued for the vehicle are surrendered.  Failure to comply with
17 the preceding sentence shall require payment by the registered
18 owner of the tow truck of fees due for registration of the
19 vehicle as though the vehicle had remained identified as a
20 commercial tow truck.  Display of the distinguishing license
21 plate or decal and registration card shall constitute prima facie
22 evidence that the vehicle is currently registered.
23      The registered owner or lessee of any vehicle registered

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 1 pursuant to this section shall display in a conspicuous place on
 2 both the right and the left side of each vehicle, the name,
 3 trademark, or logo of the company.  The display of the name,
 4 trademark, or logo shall be printed in sharp contrast to the
 5 background of the vehicle and shall be of such size, shape, and
 6 color as to be readily identifiable during daylight hours from a
 7 distance of fifty feet.
 8      (d)  Each director of finance shall adopt rules pursuant to
 9 chapter 91 for the application, payment of fees, and cancellation
10 of distinguishing plates or decals and registration card issued
11 to a vehicle of a tow truck owner.
12      (e)  As used in this section, "commercial tow truck" means a
13 truck that is equipped to tow a motor vehicle and is used to tow
14 for compensation."
15      SECTION 3.  Chapter 286, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended
16 by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to
17 read as follows:
18      "286-    Tow truck fees.  Renewal fees for permanent
19 registration of a tow truck pursuant to section 286-   shall be
20 paid pursuant to a schedule which shall be established by the
21 director of finance.  The fees determined to be due and owing
22 under this section and section 286-   shall be a lien upon all
23 vehicles of the applicant subject to registration under this

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 1 chapter, whether or not they are tow trucks."
 2      SECTION 4.  Section 290-11, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is
 3 amended by amending subsection (b) to read as follows:
 4      "(b)  Towing companies engaged by the owner, occupant, or
 5 person in charge of the property shall:
 6     [(1)  Have permanently affixed on each door of the towing
 7           vehicle a sign with the name and telephone number of
 8           the towing business.  The letters and numbers used in
 9           the sign shall be no less than two inches in height;
10      (2)] (1)  Maintain insurance coverage sufficient to protect
11           owners of towed vehicles in the event of vehicle loss
12           or damage due to towing;
13     [(3)] (2)  Charge not more than $50 for a tow, or $60 for a
14           tow using a dolly, plus a mileage charge of $5 per mile
15           towed and $15 per day or fraction thereof for storage
16           for the first seven days and $10 per day thereafter.
17           When the tow occurs between the hours of six o'clock
18           p.m. and six o'clock a.m., the towing company shall be
19           entitled to an overtime charge of $15.  If the vehicle
20           is in the process of being hooked up to the tow truck
21           and the owner appears on the scene before the vehicle
22           has been moved by the tow truck, the towing company
23           shall be entitled to an "unhooking" fee of not more

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 1           than $50.  In the case of a difficult hookup, meaning
 2           an above or below ground hookup in a multilevel
 3           facility, a towing surcharge of $25 shall be
 4           applicable;
 5     [(4)] (3)  Determine the name of the legal owner and the
 6           registered owner of the vehicle from the department of
 7           transportation or the county department of finance.
 8           The legal owner and the registered owner shall be
 9           notified in writing at the address on record with the
10           department of transportation or with the county
11           department of finance by registered or certified mail
12           of the location of the vehicle, together with a
13           description of the vehicle, within a reasonable period
14           not to exceed twenty days following the tow.  The
15           notice shall state:
16           (A)  The maximum towing charges and fees allowed by
17                law;
18           (B)  The telephone number of the consumer information
19                service of the department of commerce and consumer
20                affairs; and
21           (C)  That if the vehicle is not recovered within thirty
22                days after the mailing of the notice, the vehicle
23                shall be deemed abandoned and will be sold or

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 1                disposed of as junk.
 2           Where the owners have not been so notified, then the
 3           owner may recover the owner's car from the towing
 4           company without paying tow or storage fees; provided
 5           that the notice need not be sent to a legal or
 6           registered owner or any person with an unrecorded
 7           interest in the vehicle whose name or address cannot be
 8           determined.  Absent evidence to the contrary, a notice
 9           shall be deemed received by the legal or registered
10           owner five days after the mailing.  A person, including
11           but not limited to the owner's or driver's insurer, who
12           has been charged in excess of the charges permitted
13           under this section may sue for damages sustained and,
14           if the judgment is for the plaintiff, the court shall
15           award the plaintiff a sum not to exceed the amount of
16           the damages and reasonable attorney's fees together
17           with the cost of suit.
18                If a tow operator fails to comply with the
19           insurance requirements of this section, no charges,
20           including storage charges, may be collected by the tow
21           operator as a result of the tow or as a condition of
22           the release of the towed vehicle.  Any person,
23           including the registered owner, lienholder, or insurer

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 1           of the vehicle, who has been injured by the tow
 2           operator's failure to comply with this section is
 3           entitled to sue for damages sustained.  If a judgment
 4           is for the plaintiff, the court shall award the
 5           plaintiff a sum of not less than $1,000 or threefold
 6           damages sustained by the plaintiff, whichever sum is
 7           the greater, and reasonable attorneys fees together
 8           with the costs of suit;
 9     [(5)] (4)  Provide, when a vehicle is recovered by the owner
10           before written notice is sent by registered or
11           certified mail, the owner with a receipt stating:
12           (A)  The maximum towing charges and fees allowed by
13                law; and
14           (B)  The telephone number of the consumer information
15                service of the department of commerce and consumer
16                affairs; and
17     [(6)] (5)  Accommodate payment by the owner for charges under
18           paragraph [(3)] (2) by cash and by either credit card
19           or automated teller machine located on the premises."
20      SECTION 5.  Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed.
21 New statutory material is underscored.
22      SECTION 6.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval.