TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Robert Gordon which would amend the “Predatory Towing Prevention Act” to help give more rights to motorists and help prevent dishonest towing companies from preying on drivers has been signed into law.
“The focus of this new law is to clarify the rights of motorists,” said Senator Gordon, D-Bergen. “While parking rules and regulations are absolutely necessary to help keep order on our roadways, dishonest towing companies will not be permitted to make their money by patrolling parking lots without permission, and charging excessive rates to release impounded vehicles. This law will ensure that property owners have the final say over vehicles that are parked, legally and illegally, on their property.”
Senator Gordon’s bill, S-2567, limits the scope of the “Predatory Towing Prevention Act,” by requiring towing companies to have a contract with property owners to operate on the premises, therefore only permitting towing companies that are licensed to tow on a specific property to operate at that location. The previous law only required that private towing companies register with the Division of Consumer Affairs.
The law also bans towing companies from patrolling private property, looking for vehicles to tow, unless given permission by the property owner. Under the law, tow companies will have to receive permission from property owners before towing.
Previously, towing notification information had to be posted at property entrances, warning drivers that they would be towed at the vehicle owner’s expense. This law amends the notification requirements by specifying that property owners must also post signage warning motorists that unauthorized parking can lead to towing. Notices must also include the towing company’s contact information and location.
This law makes it unlawful for towing companies to refuse to releases a vehicle if requested to do so by a property owner. Towing companies will also be banned from charging fees that exceed 25 percent of the usual towing fee.
Included in today’s amendments to the “Predatory Towing Prevention Act,” is the removal of a provision that required the Division of Consumer Affairs to establish a cap on fees based on countywide averages, and replace it with a requirement that all fees must be reasonable and not excessive. The law defines “unreasonable and excessive” as fees that exceed by more than 25 percent of the usual fee charged by a specific towing company or facility in the same town, or if the fee exceeds by more than 50 percent of the usual fee for towing or storage by other facilities in the area.
“I want to make it clear that dishonest towers represent a small minority of the towing industry. I applaud companies of any type that follow the law and conduct themselves with integrity. However, the impetus for this law was the amount of complaints I received from drivers who were frustrated with being charged inflated fees and being exploited by towing companies who would park in lots and wait for drivers to park illegally,” said Senator Gordon.
This bill was approved by the full Senate on March 16.