19.6 C
New York

New Florida law to protect drivers from predatory tow companies

Published:

Florida lawmakers passed a landmark bill to protect drivers from predatory tow companies.

On March 22, 2024, HB179 was signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

The bill was sponsored by Representative Melony Bell. A companion version of the bill was sponsored by Senator Keith Perry.

The new law makes more than a dozen changes to Florida’s current towing law to protect drivers from dishonest or predatory tow companies.

One of the most significant changes will require Florida counties, cities, and the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) to establish and post maximum towing and storage rates online and to establish a process for investigating and resolving complaints regarding fees charged in excess of the posted rates.

The bill will go into effect on July 1, 2024.

“There is a real need for comprehensive reform to protect consumers from unfair and exploitative practices. Until meaningful reform is enacted, individuals in Florida will remain vulnerable to the pitfalls of predatory towing, with the potential for financial hardship and emotional distress looming over every parking decision,” said Rep. Bell.

“We need decisive action to combat predatory towing practices and ensure fairness and transparency for Florida’s residents,” said Senator Perry. “This law would implement important measures that protect consumers and promote accountability within the towing industry.”

Other provisions in the new towing law include:

  • Requires towing-storage operators to provide a rate sheet and itemized invoice upon request, and to post the sheet at places of business
  • Requires a towing-storage operator to accept more types of payment methods
  • Increases the minimum number of days that must pass before an unclaimed newer model vehicle or vessel may be sold
  • Lowers the number of days over which a towing-storage operator may not charge a person for storage if the towing-storage operator failed to provide notice to a lender or other lien holder on a vehicle or vessel

“Predatory towing in Florida has emerged as a pressing issue for the Sunshine State, significantly impacting individuals’ lives and livelihoods and this measure will go a long way in implementing critical reform measures,” said Eric De Campos, Senior Director of Strategy, Policy and Government Affairs for the National Insurance Crime Bureau. “We really appreciate the hard work by Representative Bell and Senator Perry to address this issue, because predatory towing places significant financial burdens on unsuspecting vehicle owners as hidden towing fees leaves individuals with an unexpected and hefty expense. We also want to thank the legislature for addressing this important issue, and the governor for signing this bill into law.”

You can learn more about the new law here.

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Get the hottest daily trucking news

This Week in Trucking

Videos