REPORT TITLE:
Motor Vehicle Towing


DESCRIPTION:
Requires towing businesses to place their name and telephone
number on the door of their towing vehicles and maintain
insurance coverage sufficient to protect owners of towed
vehicles.  Repeals the dropdead provision of Act 138, SLH 1998.
(HB1401 CD1)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                                                        1401
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES                H.B. NO.           H.D. 2
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 1999                                S.D. 1
STATE OF HAWAII                                            C.D. 1
                                                             
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                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT

RELATING TO MOTOR VEHICLE TOWING. 


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

 1      SECTION 1.  Section 290-11, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is
 
 2 amended to read as follows:
 
 3      "290-11  Vehicles left unattended on private and public
 
 4 property; sale or disposition of abandoned vehicles.(a)
 
 5 Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, any vehicle
 
 6 left unattended on private or public property without
 
 7 authorization of the owner or occupant of the property, may be
 
 8 towed away at the expense of the owner of the vehicle, by order
 
 9 of the owner, occupant, or person in charge of the property;
 
10 provided that there is posted a notice prohibiting vehicles to
 
11 park on the property without authorization.  The notice shall
 
12 state where the vehicle will be towed and held.  The notice shall
 
13 be of such size and be placed in a location reasonably calculated
 
14 to call the sign to the attention of potential parkers.
 
15      (b)  Towing companies engaged by the owner, occupant, or
 
16 person in charge of the property shall [charge]:
 
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                                                     1401
                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 2
                                                        S.D. 1
                                                        C.D. 1

 
 1      (2)  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)  Charge not more than $50 for a tow, or $60 for a tow
 
 5           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 an "unhooking" fee of not more
 
15           than $50.  In the case of a difficult hookup, meaning
 
16           an above or below ground hookup in a multilevel
 
17           facility, a towing surcharge of $25 shall be
 
18           applicable[. The towing company shall determine];
 
19      (4)  Determine the name of the legal owner and the
 
20           registered owner of the vehicle from the department of
 
21           transportation or the county department of finance.
 
22           The legal owner and the registered owner shall be
 
23           notified in writing at the address on record with the
 

 
Page 3                                                     1401
                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 2
                                                        S.D. 1
                                                        C.D. 1

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

 
Page 4                                                     1401
                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 2
                                                        S.D. 1
                                                        C.D. 1

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

 
 
 
Page 5                                                     1401
                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 2
                                                        S.D. 1
                                                        C.D. 1

 
 1     [(c)  When] 
 
 2     (5)   Provide, when a vehicle is recovered by the owner
 
 3           before written notice is sent by registered or
 
 4           certified mail, [the towing company shall provide] the
 
 5           owner with a receipt stating:
 
 6     [(1)] (A)  The maximum towing charges and fees allowed by
 
 7                law; and
 
 8     [(2)] (B)  The telephone number of the consumer information
 
 9                service of the department of commerce and consumer
 
10                affairs[.]; and
 
11     (6)   Accommodate payment by the owner for charges under
 
12           paragraph (3) by cash and by either credit card or
 
13           automated teller machine located on the premises.
 
14     [(d)]  (c)  When a vehicle is not recovered within thirty
 
15 days after the mailing of the notice, it shall be deemed
 
16 abandoned and the owner of the towing company, or the owner of
 
17 the towing company's authorized representative, after one public
 
18 advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation in the State,
 
19 may negotiate a sale of the vehicle or dispose of it as junk.
 
20     [(e)] (d)  The authorized seller of the vehicle shall be
 
21 entitled to the proceeds of the sale to the extent that
 
22 compensation is due the authorized seller for services rendered
 
23 in respect to the vehicle, including reasonable and customary
 

 
Page 6                                                     1401
                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 2
                                                        S.D. 1
                                                        C.D. 1

 
 1 charges for towing, handling, storage, and the cost of the
 
 2 notices and advertising required by this part.  Any remaining
 
 3 balance shall be forwarded to the legal or registered owner of
 
 4 the vehicle if the legal or registered owner can be found.  If
 
 5 the legal or registered owner cannot be found, the balance shall
 
 6 be deposited with the director of finance of the State and shall
 
 7 be paid out to the legal or registered owner of the vehicle if a
 
 8 proper claim is filed therefor within one year from the execution
 
 9 of the sales agreement.  If no claim is made within the year
 
10 allowed, the money shall become a state realization.
 
11     [(f)] (e) The transfer of title and interest by sale under
 
12 this part is a transfer by operation of law; provided that if the
 
13 certificate of ownership or registration is unavailable, a bill
 
14 of sale executed by an authorized seller is satisfactory evidence
 
15 authorizing the transfer of the title or interest.
 
16     [(g)] (f)  Each county by ordinance may enact additional
 
17 restrictions to this section or may enact criminal sanctions in
 
18 this area as required.
 
19     [(h)  For the purposes of this section, tow operators shall
 
20 accommodate payment by the owner for charges under subsection (b)
 
21 by cash and by either credit card or automated teller machine
 
22 located on the premises.]"
 

 
 
 
Page 7                                                     1401
                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 2
                                                        S.D. 1
                                                        C.D. 1

 
 1     SECTION 2.  Section 291C-165.5(b), Hawaii Revised Statutes,
 
 2 is amended to read as follows:
 
 3     "(b) The towing company shall determine the name of the lien
 
 4 holder and the registered owner of the vehicle from the
 
 5 department of transportation or the county department of finance.
 
 6 The lien holder and the registered owner shall be notified by the
 
 7 towing company in writing at the address on record with the
 
 8 department of transportation or with the county department of
 
 9 finance by registered or certified mail of the location of the
 
10 vehicle, together with a description of the vehicle, within a
 
11 reasonable period not to exceed twenty days following the tow.
 
12 The notice shall state:
 
13     (1)   The maximum towing charges and fees allowed by law;
 
14     (2)   The telephone number of the county finance department
 
15           that arranged for or authorized the tow; and 
 
16     (3)   That if the vehicle is not recovered within thirty days
 
17           after the mailing of the notice, the vehicle shall be
 
18           deemed abandoned and will be sold or disposed of as
 
19           junk.
 
20 Any towing company engaged in towing pursuant to this section
 
21 shall comply with the requirements of section 290-11(b)(1) and
 
22 (2).  When the vehicle is recovered after the tow by the
 
23 registered owner or lien holder, the party recovering the vehicle
 

 
Page 8                                                     1401
                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 2
                                                        S.D. 1
                                                        C.D. 1

 
 1 shall pay the tow and storage charges which shall not exceed the
 
 2 charges as provided by section 290-11(b) or the rates agreed upon
 
 3 with the respective counties, whichever is lower, except that tow
 
 4 operators may charge additional reasonable amounts for excavating
 
 5 vehicles from off-road locations; provided that if the notice
 
 6 required by this section was not sent within twenty days after
 
 7 the tow, neither the registered owner nor the lien holder shall
 
 8 be required to pay the tow and storage charges.  No notice shall
 
 9 be sent to a legal or registered owner or any person with any
 
10 unrecorded interest in the vehicle whose name or address cannot
 
11 be determined.  A person, including but not limited to the
 
12 owner's or driver's insurer, who has been charged in excess of
 
13 the charges permitted under this section may sue for damages
 
14 sustained, and, if the judgment is for the plaintiff, the court
 
15 shall award the plaintiff a sum not to exceed the amount of these
 
16 damages and reasonable attorney's fees together with the cost of
 
17 the suit.
 
18     If a tow operator fails to comply with the insurance
 
19 requirements of section 290-11(b), no charges, including storage
 
20 charges, may be collected by the tow operator as a result of the
 
21 tow or as a condition of the release of the towed vehicle.  Any
 
22 person, including the registered owner, lienholder, or insurer of
 
23 the vehicle, who has been injured by the tow operator's failure
 

 
Page 9                                                     1401
                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 2
                                                        S.D. 1
                                                        C.D. 1

 
 1 to comply with this section is entitled to sue for damages
 
 2 sustained.  If a judgment is for the plaintiff, the court shall
 
 3 award the plaintiff a sum of not less than $1,000 or threefold
 
 4 damages sustained by the plaintiff, whichever sum is the greater,
 
 5 and reasonable attorneys fees together with the costs of suit."
 
 6     SECTION 3.  Act 138, Session Laws of Hawaii 1998, is amended
 
 7 by amending section 3 to read as follows:
 
 8     "SECTION 3.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval;
 
 9 provided that the amendment set forth in Section 1 shall take
 
10 effect on September 1, 1998[, and shall be repealed on July 1,
 
11 2000]."
 
12     SECTION 4.  Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed.
 
13 New statutory material is underscored.  
 
14     SECTION 5.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval.