Report Title:

Towing Fees; Payment Options; Notification of Owner



Requires towing companies to accommodate payment by cash, credit card, and automated teller machine, at the option of the person whose vehicle is towed. Requires towing companies to attempt to notify vehicle owners by telephone and facsimile, and to document those attempts. (SD1)


H.B. NO.



H.D. 1


S.D. 1




relating to towing.



SECTION 1. Section 290-11, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (b) to read as follows:

"(b) Towing companies engaged by the owner, occupant, or person in charge of the property shall:

(1) Charge not more than $55 for a tow, or $65 for a tow using a dolly, plus a mileage charge of $6.50 per mile towed and $15 per day or fraction thereof for storage for the first seven days and $10 per day thereafter. When the tow occurs between the hours of six o'clock p.m. and six o'clock a.m., from Monday through Thursday and from Friday six o'clock p.m. to Monday six o'clock a.m., the towing company shall be entitled to an overtime charge of $15. If the vehicle is in the process of being hooked up to the tow truck and the owner appears on the scene before the vehicle has been moved by the tow truck, the towing company shall unhook the vehicle upon payment by the owner of an "unhooking" fee of not more than $50. If the owner is unwilling or unable to pay the "unhooking" fee, the vehicle may be towed. In the case of a difficult hookup, meaning an above or below ground hookup in a multilevel facility, a towing surcharge of $30 shall be applicable;

(2) Determine the name of the legal owner and the registered owner of the vehicle from the department of transportation or the county department of finance. The legal owner and the registered owner shall be notified in writing at the address on record with the department of transportation or with the county department of finance by registered or certified mail of the location of the vehicle, together with a description of the vehicle, within a reasonable period not to exceed twenty days following the tow[.]; provided that within twenty-four hours after a vehicle has been towed, the towing company shall attempt to notify the legal and registered owner by telephone and facsimile, and shall contemporaneously document its attempts. The towing company shall use all available means to locate the telephone number of the owner of a vehicle, including searching the telephone book. The notice shall state:

(A) The maximum towing charges and fees allowed by law;

(B) The telephone number of the consumer information service of the department of commerce and consumer affairs; and

(C) That if the vehicle is not recovered within thirty days after the mailing of the notice, the vehicle shall be deemed abandoned and will be sold or disposed of as junk.

Where the owners have not been so notified[,] by registered or certified mail, then the owner may recover the owner's car from the towing company without paying tow or storage fees; provided that the notice need not be sent to a legal or registered owner or any person with an unrecorded interest in the vehicle whose name or address cannot be determined. Absent evidence to the contrary, a notice shall be deemed received by the legal or registered owner five days after the mailing. A person, including but not limited to the owner's or driver's insurer, who has been charged in excess of the charges permitted under this section may sue for damages sustained and, if the judgment is for the plaintiff, the court shall award the plaintiff a sum not to exceed the amount of the damages and reasonable attorney's fees together with the cost of suit;

(3) Provide, when a vehicle is recovered by the owner before written notice is sent by registered or certified mail, the owner with a receipt stating:

(A) The maximum towing charges and fees allowed by law; and

(B) The telephone number of the consumer information service of the department of commerce and consumer affairs; and

(4) Accommodate payment by the owner for charges under paragraph (1) by cash [and by either], credit card [or], and automated teller machine [located on the premises.]; provided that the towing company shall maintain all equipment necessary to accommodate any payment method authorized under this subsection; provided further that the method of payment shall be at the sole discretion of the person whose motor vehicle is being towed."

SECTION 2. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 3. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.