Salem, Ore.- New bills being considered in Salem would target predatory towing and could keep auto theft victims from facing steep towing and storage fees to get recovered vehicles back. Oregon’s Attorney General is supporting the legislation.
Amendments have been proposed to all three bills, and further revisions are expected.
In general, the bills and proposed amendments would:
- Allow law enforcement agencies to provide towing companies with contact information for owners of recovered vehicles. Towers currently get that information from the Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division, which can take days and lead to steep storage fees.
- Allow owners of recovered stolen vehicles that are considered totaled to surrender their title to the tower and walk away from a vehicle without further charges. The process currently takes about 30 days and can leave owners owing money to the tower in excess of the value of the vehicle.
- Require towers to receive written, signed authority from the parking facility’s owner or agent before towing. Currently, the tower can contact the facility owner to initiate the tow.
- Require towers to provide vehicle owners a photograph showing the vehicle parked in violation. Current law requires towers to take the photo, but not to show anyone.
- Prohibit vehicles from being towed unless a sign in plain view prohibits or restricts public parking.
- Require towers to tow to the nearest available facility to avoid unnecessary mileage charges.
- Clarify when a “hookup” is complete. Towers can charge a hookup fee even if they have not yet towed a vehicle.
- Add certain towing provisions to acts enforceable as unlawful trade practice, and create a civil process for vehicle owners or operators to challenge the validity of a tow.