Philadelphia Seeking to Pass Controversial Towing Ordinance

Feb 5th, 2011 | By | Category: National News

The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Council has passed a controversial ordinance that will change how tow trucks respond to accident scenes in the city. According to news reports, the current system allows tow truck operators to arrive at accident scenes, solicit to have a tow agreement signed by the motorist, and tow the vehicle. If no tow agreement is reached, a rotation tow truck is called and receives $150 for the call. The new ordinance calls for a rotation tow truck to be dispatched to the accident immediately without waiting for confirmation by police or fire departments to determine if a rotation truck is needed. Rotation tow trucks will only be called when a vehicle is blocking a roadway.

Additional requirements of the ordinance:

• It will be unlawful to respond to an accident scene to solicit a tow from an accident victim when the vehicle is blocking the roadway.

• Private tow agreements will not be allowed.

• Tow operators will be required to be licensed by the city. The license will cost approximately $500.

• Those with a previous conviction for auto theft or registered sex offenders will not be permitted to be licensed.

• Tow operators will have to disclose traffic convictions within the last 10 years. Those with multiple convictions can be barred from receiving a license.

• Arriving at an accident scene without being called by the city can result in a tow company’s termination from the rotation system and having its tow license suspended.

• It will be unlawful for “any tow truck, or body shop or other facility” to keep a police or fire department scanner.

• Inspections will be made periodically to ensure compliance with regulations.

• The rotation tow charge will be $175 with no storage for the first 24 hours.

Some city towing operators are opposed to the legislation and have vowed to fight it. The law would become effective May 1 if signed by Mayor Michael Nutter, which a news report said is likely.

A second part of the pending tow legislation involves how tow licenses are distributed and the rotation list is maintained. This proposed legislation must be enacted by the State legislature, the report said and would give the Philadelphia Parking Authority the authority to administer the rotation system and discretion as to who receives a tow operator’s license.

The city council also recently approved controversial legislation requiring that vehicles involved in crashes on city streets be towed to Philadelphia Parking Authority lots unless the driver requests that the car be taken to a different location. Currently, tow truck operators choose which impound lot the vehicle is taken to. Towing companies have said they will challenge the legislation in court, a report said.