Report Title:

Tow Trucks; Registration


Requires commercial tow trucks to be registered and to display distinguishing license plates and decals. Provides that the director of finance shall establish a schedule of tow truck registration fees. Provides that noncompliance with registration requirements prohibits the tow operator to collect charges for a tow or as a condition to release a towed vehicle.


H.B. NO.









relating to towing.



SECTION 1. The legislature finds that it is important for all vehicles to have proper vehicle registration and insurance for the protection and safety of the citizens of Hawaii. Currently, commercial fleet vehicles are required to have special license plates to identify and show that they have proper registration and insurance.

The purpose of this Act is to require tow trucks to have special license plates to ensure that all vehicles designated as tow trucks meet the same standards of registration and insurance verification as commercial fleet vehicles.

SECTION 2. Chapter 286, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding two new sections to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"286-A Permanent registration of a tow truck. (a) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the registered owner or lessee of a vehicle designed to operate as a commercial tow truck shall apply to the director of finance of the county in which the vehicle is to be operated, for permanent license plates, decals, and registration cards; provided that the vehicle shall not be registered in any other state.

(b) The application for initial issuance of permanent registration shall be filed in a form that the director of finance requires. Upon initial application and payment of the required fees, the director of finance shall issue a distinguishing license plate or decal which indicates the tow truck has been registered under this section.

(c) Upon submission of the renewal of registration form and payment of normally required fees, the license plates, decals, and registration cards issued pursuant to this section for the vehicle shall remain valid; provided that a tow truck registered under this section may be removed from registration as a commercial tow truck upon notification of the director of finance by the registered owner and the distinguishing license plates, decals, and registration cards issued for the vehicle are surrendered. Failure to comply with the preceding sentence shall require payment by the registered owner of the tow truck of fees due for registration of the vehicle as though the vehicle had remained registered as a commercial tow truck. Display of the distinguishing license plate or decal and registration cards shall constitute prima facie evidence that the vehicle is currently registered.

(d) Each director of finance shall adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91 for the application, payment of fees, and cancellation of distinguishing plates or decals and registration card issued to a vehicle of a tow truck owner.

286-B Tow truck; registration fees. Renewal fees for permanent registration of a tow truck pursuant to section 286-   shall be paid pursuant to a schedule established by the director of finance. The fees determined to be due and owing under this section and section 286- shall be a lien upon all vehicles of the applicant subject to registration under this chapter whether or not they are tow trucks."

SECTION 3. Section 291C-135, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"[[]291C-135 Tow trucks; signage and insurance requirements.[]] (a) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the registered owner or lessee of a tow truck shall:

(1) Permanently affix on each door of the truck a sign with the name and telephone number of the tow business. The letters and numbers used in the sign shall be no less than two inches in height; and

(2) Maintain insurance coverage sufficient to protect owners of towed vehicles in the event of vehicle loss or damage due to towing.

(b) If a tow operator fails to comply with the insurance requirements of this section[,] or section 286-A, no charges, including storage charges, may be collected by the tow operator as a result of the tow or as a condition of the release of the towed vehicle. Any person, including the registered owner, lien holder, or insurer of the vehicle, who has been injured by the tow operator's failure to comply with this section is entitled to sue for damages sustained. If a judgment is obtained by the plaintiff, the court shall award the plaintiff a sum of not less than $1,000 or threefold damages sustained by the plaintiff, whichever sum is greater, and reasonable attorney's fees and costs."

SECTION 4. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 5. In codifying the new sections added by section 2 of this Act, the revisor of statutes shall substitute appropriate section numbers for the letters used in designating the new sections in this Act.

SECTION 6. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.