REPORT TITLE:
Towing Companies


DESCRIPTION:
Requires the registered owner or lessee of a tow truck to have a
sign on the vehicle doors with the name and telephone number of
the towing business etc.  Clarifies the "unhooking" process, and
requires insurance of all tow trucks.  (SD1)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                                                        2906
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES                H.B. NO.           H.D. 1
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2000                                S.D. 1
STATE OF HAWAII                                            
                                                             
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                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT

RELATING TO TOWING COMPANIES.


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

 1      SECTION 1.  Chapter 291C, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is
 
 2 amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated
 
 3 and to read as follows:
 
 4      "291C-     Signage requirements for tow trucks.  (a)
 
 5 Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the registered
 
 6 owner or lessee of a tow truck shall:
 
 7      (1)  Permanently affix on each door of the truck a sign with
 
 8           the name and telephone number of the tow business.  The
 
 9           letters and numbers used in the sign shall be no less
 
10           than two inches in height; and
 
11      (2)  Maintain insurance coverage sufficient to protect
 
12           owners of towed vehicles in the event of vehicle loss
 
13           or damage due to towing.  If a tow operator fails to
 
14           comply with the insurance requirements of this section,
 
15           no charges, including storage charges, may be collected
 
16           by the tow operator as a result of the tow or as a
 
17           condition of the release of the towed vehicle.  Any
 
18           person, including the registered owner, lien holder, or
 
19           insurer of the vehicle, who has been injured by the tow
 
20           operator's failure to comply with this section is
 

 
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 1           entitled to sue for damages sustained.  If a judgment
 
 2           is obtained by the plaintiff, the court shall award the
 
 3           plaintiff a sum of not less than $1,000 or threefold
 
 4           damages sustained by the plaintiff, whichever sum is
 
 5           greater, and reasonable attorney's fees and costs."
 
 6      SECTION 2.  Section 290-11, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is
 
 7 amended by amending subsection (b) to read as follows:
 
 8      "(b)  Towing companies engaged by the owner, occupant, or
 
 9 person in charge of the property shall:
 
10     [(1)  Have permanently affixed on each door of the towing
 
11           vehicle a sign with the name and telephone number of
 
12           the towing business.  The letters and numbers used in
 
13           the sign shall be no less than two inches in height;
 
14      (2)  Maintain insurance coverage sufficient to protect
 
15           owners of towed vehicles in the event of vehicle loss
 
16           or damage due to towing;
 
17      (3)] (1)  Charge not more than $50 for a tow, or $60 for a
 
18           tow using a dolly, plus a mileage charge of $5 per mile
 
19           towed and $15 per day or fraction thereof for storage
 
20           for the first seven days and $10 per day thereafter.
 
21           When the tow occurs between the hours of six o'clock
 
22           p.m. and six o'clock a.m., the towing company shall be
 
23           entitled to an overtime charge of $15.  If the vehicle
 

 
Page 3                                                     2906
                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 1
                                                        S.D. 1
                                                        

 
 1           is in the process of being hooked up to the tow truck
 
 2           and the owner appears on the scene before the vehicle
 
 3           has been moved by the tow truck, the towing company
 
 4           shall [be entitled to] unhook the vehicle upon payment
 
 5           by the owner of an "unhooking" fee of not more than
 
 6           $50.  If the owner is unwilling or unable to pay the
 
 7           "unhooking" fee, the vehicle may be towed.  In the case
 
 8           of a difficult hookup, meaning an above or below ground
 
 9           hookup in a multilevel facility, a towing surcharge of
 
10           $25 shall be applicable;
 
11     [(4)] (2)  Determine the name of the legal owner and the
 
12           registered owner of the vehicle from the department of
 
13           transportation or the county department of finance.
 
14           The legal owner and the registered owner shall be
 
15           notified in writing at the address on record with the
 
16           department of transportation or with the county
 
17           department of finance by registered or certified mail
 
18           of the location of the vehicle, together with a
 
19           description of the vehicle, within a reasonable period
 
20           not to exceed twenty days following the tow.  The
 
21           notice shall state:
 
22           (A)  The maximum towing charges and fees allowed by
 
23                law;
 

 
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                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 1
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 1           (B)  The telephone number of the consumer information
 
 2                service of the department of commerce and consumer
 
 3                affairs; and
 
 4           (C)  That if the vehicle is not recovered within thirty
 
 5                days after the mailing of the notice, the vehicle
 
 6                shall be deemed abandoned and will be sold or
 
 7                disposed of as junk.
 
 8           Where the owners have not been so notified, then the
 
 9           owner may recover the owner's car from the towing
 
10           company without paying tow or storage fees; provided
 
11           that the notice need not be sent to a legal or
 
12           registered owner or any person with an unrecorded
 
13           interest in the vehicle whose name or address cannot be
 
14           determined.  Absent evidence to the contrary, a notice
 
15           shall be deemed received by the legal or registered
 
16           owner five days after the mailing.  A person, including
 
17           but not limited to the owner's or driver's insurer, who
 
18           has been charged in excess of the charges permitted
 
19           under this section may sue for damages sustained and,
 
20           if the judgment is for the plaintiff, the court shall
 
21           award the plaintiff a sum not to exceed the amount of
 
22           the damages and reasonable attorney's fees together
 
23           with the cost of suit[.
 

 
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                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 1
                                                        S.D. 1
                                                        

 
 1                If a tow operator fails to comply with the
 
 2           insurance requirements of this section, no charges,
 
 3           including storage charges, may be collected by the tow
 
 4           operator as a result of the tow or as a condition of
 
 5           the release of the towed vehicle.  Any person,
 
 6           including the registered owner, lien holder, or insurer
 
 7           of the vehicle, who has been injured by the tow
 
 8           operator's failure to comply with this section is
 
 9           entitled to sue for damages sustained.  If a judgment
 
10           is for the plaintiff, the court shall award the
 
11           plaintiff a sum of not less than $1,000 or threefold
 
12           damages sustained by the plaintiff, whichever sum is
 
13           the greater, and reasonable attorneys fees together
 
14           with the costs of suit];
 
15     [(5)] (3)  Provide, when a vehicle is recovered by the owner
 
16           before written notice is sent by registered or
 
17           certified mail, the owner with a receipt stating:
 
18           (A)  The maximum towing charges and fees allowed by
 
19                law; and
 
20           (B)  The telephone number of the consumer information
 
21                service of the department of commerce and consumer
 
22                affairs; and
 
23     [(6)] (4)  Accommodate payment by the owner for charges under
 

 
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                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 1
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 1           paragraph [(3)] (1) by cash and by either credit card
 
 2           or automated teller machine located on the premises."
 
 3      SECTION 3.  Section 291C-165.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is
 
 4 amended by amending subsection (b) to read as follows:
 
 5      "(b)  The towing company shall determine the name of the
 
 6 lien holder and the registered owner of the vehicle from the
 
 7 department of transportation or the county department of finance.
 
 8 The lien holder and the registered owner shall be notified by the
 
 9 towing company in writing at the address on record with the
 
10 department of transportation or with the county department of
 
11 finance by registered or certified mail of the location of the
 
12 vehicle, together with a description of the vehicle, within a
 
13 reasonable period not to exceed twenty days following the tow.
 
14 The notice shall state:
 
15      (1)  The maximum towing charges and fees allowed by law;
 
16      (2)  The telephone number of the county finance department
 
17           that arranged for or authorized the tow; and 
 
18      (3)  That if the vehicle is not recovered within thirty days
 
19           after the mailing of the notice, the vehicle shall be
 
20           deemed abandoned and will be sold or disposed of as
 
21           junk.
 
22 Any towing company engaged in towing pursuant to this section
 
23 shall comply with the requirements of [section 290-11(b)(1) and
 

 
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                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 1
                                                        S.D. 1
                                                        

 
 1 (2).] section 291C-  .  When the vehicle is recovered after the
 
 2 tow by the registered owner or lien holder, the party recovering
 
 3 the vehicle shall pay the tow and storage charges which shall not
 
 4 exceed the charges as provided by section 290-11(b) or the rates
 
 5 agreed upon with the respective counties, whichever is lower,
 
 6 except that tow operators may charge additional reasonable
 
 7 amounts for excavating vehicles from off-road locations; provided
 
 8 that if the notice required by this section was not sent within
 
 9 twenty days after the tow, neither the registered owner nor the
 
10 lien holder shall be required to pay the tow and storage charges.
 
11 No notice shall be sent to a legal or registered owner or any
 
12 person with any unrecorded interest in the vehicle whose name or
 
13 address cannot be determined.  A person, including but not
 
14 limited to the owner's or driver's insurer, who has been charged
 
15 in excess of the charges permitted under this section may sue for
 
16 damages sustained, and, if the judgment is for the plaintiff, the
 
17 court shall award the plaintiff a sum not to exceed the amount of
 
18 these damages and reasonable attorney's fees together with the
 
19 cost of the suit.
 
20      [If a tow operator fails to comply with the insurance
 
21 requirements of section 290-11(b), no charges, including storage
 
22 charges, may be collected by the tow operator as a result of the
 
23 tow or as a condition of the release of the towed vehicle.  Any
 

 
Page 8                                                     2906
                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 1
                                                        S.D. 1
                                                        

 
 1 person, including the registered owner, lien holder, or insurer
 
 2 of the vehicle, who has been injured by the tow operator's
 
 3 failure to comply with this section is entitled to sue for
 
 4 damages sustained.  If a judgment is for the plaintiff, the court
 
 5 shall award the plaintiff a sum of not less than $1,000 or
 
 6 threefold damages sustained by the plaintiff, whichever sum is
 
 7 the greater, and reasonable attorneys fees together with the
 
 8 costs of suit.]"
 
 9      SECTION 4.  Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed.
 
10 New statutory material is underscored.
 
11      SECTION 5.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval.