For years, Arizona drivers have complained about abuse by towing companies. Now, a new law signed by Gov. Doug Ducey aims to crackdown on this.
Bill HB 2603, sponsored by Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, passed the state Legislature with support from both parties.
The new law no longer allows towing companies to do the following:
- Towing companies can no longer refuse to release a vehicle. The vehicle must be released the same day that a request is made provided a release form is signed and proof of ownership is presented by either the owner or insurance company. Towing companies must also accept emailed releases.
- Towing companies can no longer demand cash payment. Payment can now be made by credit card, debit card, insurance company-issued check or money order. In addition, drivers cannot be charged a fee if they want to inspect their vehicle or to retrieve personal property during normal business hours. This applies to anyone designated in writing by the owner, including insurance companies. However, the company is allowed to require a liability waiver be signed before property is removed.
- Vehicles cannot be towed to distant lots. A towing company must tow to the nearest storage lot, unless the nearest lot is at capacity or the owner or a police officer direct the company to a different location.
- Companies can no longer charge without providing a detailed billing statement. If a customer requests a billing statement before noon, the company is required to provide it before the end of the day. If the company does not provide the billing statement the day it is requested, the company cannot charge fees until the statement is provided. Furthermore, a storage day may only be calculated from midnight of one day to midnight of the next day.
- Companies cannot close during normal business hours. Companies must be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays or by appointment. The company cannot charge fees if it is unavailable during these hours.
- Towing companies cannot charge more than what is allowed by the city in which the accident occurred or what is stated in its contract.
- The towing company can no longer hold individual employees responsible. The company is responsible for all actions of its employees and contractors while on the job.
- If a company wrongly refuses to release a vehicle twice in three years they can be charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor. The Arizona Attorney General is authorized to prosecute violations of the law.
Parts of the law take effect this summer, 90 days after the Legislature has adjourned, with the rest taking effect on January 1.