SB724 (2020) Detail

Relative to removal of abandoned or disabled vehicles by towing.


SB 724-FN - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2020 SESSION

20-2923

11/04

 

SENATE BILL 724-FN

 

AN ACT relative to removal of abandoned or disabled vehicles by towing.

 

SPONSORS: Sen. Birdsell, Dist 19; Sen. Starr, Dist 1; Sen. Cavanaugh, Dist 16; Rep. Klein-Knight, Hills. 11; Rep. Packard, Rock. 5; Rep. Bixby, Straf. 17

 

COMMITTEE: Transportation

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill modifies the procedures surrounding the removal of abandoned or disabled vehicles by towing.

 

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

20-2923

11/04

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty

 

AN ACT relative to removal of abandoned or disabled vehicles by towing.

 

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

 

1  New Section; Use of Tow List Required.  Amend RSA 262 by inserting after section 31 the following new section:

262:31-a  Use of Tow List Required.  In the event the state police or other law enforcement agency responsible for public safety, including clearing roads and entrances of disabled or vehicles seeks to tow any vehicle pursuant to this subdivision, the tow company responsible for such removal and storage shall be chosen from the tow list in accordance with RSA 262-A.

2  New Chapter; Removal of Abandoned and Disabled Vehicles.  Amend RSA by inserting after chapter 262 the following new chapter:

CHAPTER 262-A

REMOVAL OF ABANDONED AND DISABLED VEHICLES

262-A:1  Applicability.  This chapter shall apply to the enforcement of provisions of the motor vehicle laws by the state police or other law enforcement agency responsible for public safety, including clearing roads and entrances of disabled or abandoned vehicles regarding the removal, storage, and release of vehicles towed and transported by wreckers, towing, and emergency road service organizations in a fair and equitable manner, upon request of the division of state police:

I.  In response to requests from owners or custodians of vehicles that have encountered mechanical problems that rendered them inoperable or unsafe to be driven;

II.  In response to requests from a state trooper when a vehicle has been abandoned on private property without consent of the property owner;

III.  Is found obstructing the passage of vehicles from a public street or highway onto the driveway of such private property or public building;

IV.  Was involved in a traffic accident or crime or its driver is incapacitated, or is without a valid driver 's license or under arrest;

V.  Is interfering with snow removal or highway maintenance;

VI.  Will be a menace to traffic if permitted to remain;

VII.  Was been left unattended within a state-owned park and ride facility for a period greater than 21 days; or

VIII.  Is without proper registration or apparently unsafe to be driven.

262-A:2  Definitions.  In this section:

I.  "Heavy duty wrecker" means a wreaker intended and suitably equipped for towing vehicles in excess of 10,000 pounds, such as a tractor- trailer, large truck, or similar vehicle but excluding carriers and flatbeds, and meeting the following requirements, provided that come-a-longs, chains, or other similar devices shall not be used as substitutes for winch and cable:

(a)  A truck chassis having a minimum gross vehicle weight rating of not less than 54,500 lbs;

(b)  Tandem axles, or a cab to axle length of not less than 102 inches;

(c)  A combined winch capacity of not less than 50,000 pounds, as rated by the manufacturer;

(d)  A single winch with a capacity of 50,000 pounds, as rated by the manufacturer, or if equipped with 2 winches, a combined rating of 50,000 pounds;

(e)  A manufactured wheel-lift with retracted lifting capacity of not less than 20,000 pounds, as rated by the manufacturer, with safety chains or a tow bar of equal capacity;

(f)  A winch cable rated as specified by the winch manufacturer, in good condition;

(g)  Light and airbrake hookups; and

(h)  Additional United States Department of Transportation inspection compliant safety equipment as specified in this chapter.

II.  "Light duty wrecker" means a wrecker intended and suitably equipped for safely towing vehicle weighing 10,000 pounds or less, including passenger cars, pickup trucks, motorcycles, small trailers, and similar vehicles, that meets the following requirements, provide that come-a-longs, chains, or other similar devices shall not serve as substitutes for a winch and cable:

(a)  A minimum gross vehicle weight rating of not less than 10,000 pounds;

(b)  Individual boom capacity of not less than 8,000 pounds, as rated by the manufacturer;

(c)  Individual power takeoff or hydraulic power or electric winch capacity of not less than 8,000 pounds, as rated by the manufacturer, and wire rope of a capacity and length consistent with the device manufacturer;

(d)  A manufactured wheel-lift with a retracting lifting capacity of not less than 3,500 pounds, as rated by the manufacturer, with safety chains;

(e)  Dual rear wheels;

(f)  Two chock blocks that will prevent rolling or slippage of the wrecker; and

(g)  Additional safety equipment as specified in this chapter and compliant with U.S. Department of Transportation inspection requirements.

III.  "Medium duty wrecker" means a wrecker intended and suitably equipped for safely towing vehicles weighing between 10,000 pounds and 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight that meets the following requirements, provided that come-a-longs, chains, or similar devices shall not serve as a substitute for a winch and cable:

(a)  A tow truck chassis with a minimum gross vehicle weight rating of not less than 26,000 pounds;

(b)  A 12-ton boom assembly, as rated by the manufacturer;

(c)  Two winches, each of at least 10,000-pound capacity, as rated by the manufacturer, with both winches complying with the manufacturer's rated capacity;

(d)  A manufactured wheel-lift with a retracted lifting capacity of not less than 6,500 pounds, as rated by the manufacturer, with safety chains;

(e)  Additional safety equipment as specified in this chapter and compliant with United States Department of Transportation inspection requirements.

IV.  "Recovery vehicle" means a motor vehicle consisting of a commercially available truck chassis equipped with a commercially manufactured tow body or bed and that is rated and issued a serial number by the manufacturer, designed and equipped for and used in the towing or recovery of vehicles, capable of towing a vehicle by means of a tow bar, sling, or wheel lift, and capable of recovering a vehicle by means of a hoist, winch, or towline.

V.  "Rollback carrier" means a flatbed vehicle that meets the following requirements, provided that come-a-longs, chains, or similar devices shall not be used as substitutes for a winch and cable:

(a) A minimum gross vehicle weight rating of at least 19,500 pounds;

(b)  A specially equipped chassis with a ramp on wheels and a hydraulic lift with a capacity to haul or tow another vehicle;

(c)  At least one 8,000 lb winch, as rated by the manufacturer, with at least 50 feet of cable, as recommended by the winch manufacturer; and

(d)  Additional safety equipment as specified in this chapter and compliant with United States Department of Transportation inspection requirements.

VI.  "Tow business" means a person, enterprise, partnership company, or corporation that meets all state and local legal requirements including, but not limited to, a registered trade name, an active New Hampshire tax identification number, an active New Hampshire worker’s compensation insurance policy, and an active New Hampshire employment security account, and that engages in the impoundment, recovery, transport, or storage of towed or abandoned vehicles, or in the disposal of abandoned vehicles.

VII.  "Tow list" means the list of qualified New Hampshire tow businesses used by state police communications personnel or other law enforcement agency official, to dispatch wreckers and recovery vehicles on an equitable basis when no choice or preference of a particular tow business is expressed by the vehicle owner, driver, or other person responsible for the vehicle, or when public safety requires the law enforcement official to clear the vehicle from the location believing, in the sole opinion of the law enforcement officer in charge, it is causing a public hazard or safety issue.

VIII.  “Vehicle storage area" means a suitable yard or enclosed building where a qualified tow business keeps or stores towed or impounded vehicles.

262-A:3  Use of Tow List.

I.  In order to ensure that when a roadway incident occurs involving a vehicle that requires recovery, towing, or removal from the scene, the law enforcement officer on scene shall make a best effort attempt to allow the owner, operator, or other person lawfully responsible for the vehicle to contact a preferred tow business, unless doing so will delay the timely restoration of safe traffic movement.  The preferred tow business shall contact the division of state police, who shall notify the on-site trooper of the estimated time of arrival.  The trooper shall determine if the time would unduly continue a hazardous condition for the public and, if so, the trooper or other law enforcement officer shall contact the appropriate tow business from the tow list.  If there is no one on site who is the owner, operator, or other person lawfully responsible for the vehicle, and in the opinion of the law enforcement officer the vehicle presents a hazard to the public, the law enforcement official on site shall contact the next appropriate tow business on the list.

II.  To help ensure a timely and professional response and to promote fairness to individual towing businesses, the division of state police shall maintain a separate rotation list for each state police geographical troop area.  In any case where long distances could cause unreasonably long wrecker responses, the director of the division of motor vehicles may authorize a separate rotational list by county or group of communities for that troop.  The director may enlarge or shrink an area if necessary to provide a sufficient number of tow businesses to handle the number of calls in the area and the travel distances involved, and shall review the zones at least once every 5 years to determine if needs are being met.

III.  If the desired tow business is unable to respond to a call in a timely manner with the proper equipment, the tow business next in line on the rotation list will be called.

IV.  If the owner or other legally authorized person in control of the disabled vehicle arrives at the scene prior to the removal or towing of the vehicle, but after the tow business has been notified and dispatched to tow the vehicle, that person shall be allowed to remove the vehicle upon payment in full of the normal tow charge at the towing business's applicable rate for such towing and removal, so long as the legally authorized person in control of the disabled vehicle agrees to the immediate removal of said vehicle from the roadway or property where it will otherwise be unlawfully parked or creating a travel hazard.  The towing business shall issue a receipt for payment at such time or shall continue the tow at the request of the law enforcement on scene.

V.  Placement on the tow list shall be by order of application.  Whenever a new tow business becomes authorized, it shall be placed on the bottom of the appropriate list or lists for which the director finds the tow business qualified.  The director shall have authority to determine when a tow list is adequately staffed with towing businesses and may refuse to add a business to the list if he or she determines that further additions would cause an unwieldy result or the amount and type of calls in that zone is insufficient to justify that large a list or, when considering remote areas, where it is necessary to keep the ability or tow business soluble for the public good.

VI.  Separate rotation lists shall be maintained for each category of wrecker.  When a situation requires services of a specific category of wrecker and the person responsible for the vehicle to be towed has no preference, a wrecker of that category shall be called from the appropriate rotation list.

VII.  Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to confer any vested property rights upon the tow business to continue on the rotating list.

VIII.  Calling a tow company from the list does not create a contract with or obligation on the part of the law enforcement agency or law enforcement personnel to reimburse any fee or towing charge, except when towing a vehicle owned or leased by a law enforcement agency or that is later forfeited to the state police, or when a court determines that the state police wrongfully authorized the tow and orders the state police to pay transportation and storage fees.

IX.  Placement on the rotation list shall not guarantee a particular number or quantity of calls, an equal number of calls to every tow business on the list, nor any compensation as a consequence of not being called in accordance with the list or when removed from the rotation list.  If a towing business responds to a state police call and the call is later canceled due to the vehicle no longer being disabled, or the circumstances change such that after calling a tow company the vehicle must be stored in a manner that preserves all evidence in or on the vehicle and the tow business is not so equipped, the tow business shall go back to the top of the list.

X.  A tow business shall, upon receiving a request from the state police, use its own equipment and shall not refer a call to another tow business.  A tow business shall not be punished for not being available to answer a call made pursuant to this chapter if it is already in the process of towing or servicing a disabled or abandoned vehicle elsewhere, whether for state, municipal, or private purposes.

XI.  A tow business may terminate or temporarily suspend its designation as a service provider and be removed from the rotation list by providing 5 days' written notice to the director of state police or troop commander or other law enforcement agency.  In the event of unforeseen circumstances such as death, fire, or loss of equipment from accident or failure, a tow business on the tow list shall notify the director, troop commander, or any other local law enforcement agency of its intent to suspend its designation as a service provider.  Upon return to service, such tow company shall inform the director or troop commander and any law enforcement agency who maintains a list of tow business qualified to tow of its intent to resume operation, at which time they shall be placed at the bottom of the rotation list.

XII.  If the owner, operator, or other person lawfully responsible for the vehicle has no preference as to which tow business is desired, or in the opinion of law enforcement on site that the situation presents a safety issue for the public and the preferred tow business cannot fulfill the call in a timely manner the next business in line on the rotational list will be dispatched.

XIII.  Tow businesses, when qualified and accepted, shall be placed on the bottom of the rotation list.  Tow businesses shall be called for service, such as for fuel, tire changes, dead battery, and for the recovery and removal of wrecked, disabled, stolen, abandoned, or unsafe vehicles, according to  placement on the rotation list.

XIV.  The trooper in charge shall have discretionary authority to deny a request for a specific tow business whenever time is of the essence and the request will delay the restoration of safe traffic movement.  Following each call, the tow business shall be rotated to the bottom of the list except as otherwise provided herein.

XV.  Each tow business on the tow list shall have a tow truck of sufficient size and strength to safely handle the job.

XVI.  Rotation list notations shall be maintained for heavy duty wreckers, heavy duty recovery vehicles, and recovery vehicles, and when there is a specific, identified need for one of those vehicles they shall be summoned from the rotation list in the order which they appear.  Nothing herein shall prevent a tow business from responding to a call with a heavy duty wrecker, heavy duty recovery vehicle, or recovery vehicle to a call where only a light or medium duty wrecker is required or requested, as long as the tow company does not exceed its normal charge for a light or heavy duty wrecker as applicable.

XVII.  If a motorcycle is to be towed, a tow sling, wheel lift, car carrier, or other comparable device shall be used that has the capability to transport motorcycles.

XVIII.  The division shall not call a tow business that, in its opinion, does not have a vehicle of sufficient size and equipment for a specific job.  Under these conditions, the tow business not called will remain on the top of the rotation list.

XIX.  A tow business shall not sell, assign, transfer, pledge, surrender, encumber, or dispose of its place on the rotation list.  By applying to be placed on the list, a tow business agrees to respond to all state police calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Except as provided in paragraph X, for any reason the business cannot respond to a call, it shall be placed on the bottom of the list.  Businesses that develop a pattern of non-response to calls shall be subject to removal from the rotation list.

XX.  A tow business shall appear on the rotation list only once.  The listing shall use the name of the business submitted at the time of application and a designation for any specialty in which the business is qualified.  A tow business conducting business at a location shall not receive multiple listings or classifications by utilizing a different or fictitious name for trucks operating from the same location or trucks with the same name out of different locations within that zone.

XXI.  When emergency conditions necessitate, the state police may request the services of the tow business that is best equipped to handle the emergency and can reach the scene in the shortest time, regardless of its position on the rotation list.  A call made under these circumstances shall count as such business's next rotation call.

XXII.  Whenever heavy equipment or large vehicles are involved in an incident, and it is determined that the tow business next up on the rotation list lacks adequate equipment to handle the incident, the division may call a larger piece of equipment from a business on the list that can handle the situation.  In such case, the tow business shall be repositioned on the rotation list accordingly.  Having only one large rotation wrecker shall not justify for being called to all truck accidents.

XXIII.  In the event of an overturned truck, the state police shall determine at the time if the situation requires the use of only one tow business or if additional vehicles are required.  The first named tow business shall determine the amount of assistance necessary to remove any public hazards.  The tow business responding to law enforcement request shall be responsible for contacting others meeting the qualifications to operate in New Hampshire and shall be the business solely responsible for efficient and safe handling of the recovery.  Decisions made pursuant to this paragraph shall be based on the public safety concerns.

XXIV.  At no time shall any towing vehicle exceed its manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating or the manufacturer's rated capacity for the towing assembly or be attached to a vehicle which by its size and or weight would make towing it an unsafe movement.

262-A:4  Requirements for Placement on the Tow List.

I.  Any tow business that wishes to be placed on the rotation list with appropriate designation shall make application to both the state police troop commander at the appropriate troop station and any other law enforcement agency responsible for public safety including clearing roads and entrances of disabled or abandoned vehicles.

II.  The tow business shall provide as part of its application a list of all tow truck operator personnel, including full name, current address, date and place of birth, driver's license number, and social security number.

III.  Before being placed on the tow list, the business shall be required to obtain for inclusion with the application a criminal history and motor vehicle record check on any owner, partner, co-owner, or corporate executive of the business and operators.  Any criminal history of convictions or pending cases involving fraudulent activity, assaults, sex offenses, thefts, disorderly conduct, criminal threatening, burglary, domestic violence or similar offenses, or a serious or repetitive motor vehicle violation history of any such individual shall be grounds for refusing to place the business on the rotation list.

IV.  Whenever a new operator is hired the business shall arrange for the criminal and motor vehicle record checks and shall notify the state police troop commander and any other law enforcement agency administrating a tow list responsible for public safety including clearing roads and entrances of disabled or abandoned vehicles of the hiring.

V.  Whenever an employee whose name is listed as being an employee of the business ceases employment with the tow company, the business shall notify the state police troop commander and any other law enforcement agency administrating a tow list responsible for public safety including clearing roads and entrances of disabled or abandoned vehicles that the individual no longer is employed there.

VI.  If an operator is employed by more than one towing company, each company shall maintain an independent and separate driver file on such individual.  It shall be the responsibility of the operator to maintain appropriate records of driving times showing full compliance with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations.

VII.  In the event the ownership of a tow business changes for any reason including but not limited to the sale of the business, death, or retirement of the owner, the tow business shall reapply before the effective date of the change in ownership for approval or the tow business shall be removed from the rotation list until such time as the new owner complies with the application process

VIII.  The business shall have a telephone number listed in its name and shall also have an after-hours telephone number where it can be contacted after normal business hours.  The business shall be staffed Monday through Friday from at least 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with someone who will be available for administrative matters and the release of a vehicle or other related items stored on premises.  After normal business hours and on weekends or holidays a responsible person shall be on call to provide those services.  All tow truck owners and operators accepted for the rotating list shall, within 6 months of hiring, unless already qualified, successfully complete a training program approved by the commissioner of safety that covers the safe and professional operation of towing and recovery vehicles and equipment as well as the applicable statutes and administrative rules.  The course shall be conducted by a certified trainer whose name is on a list approved by the commissioner after reviewing the curriculum and the qualifications of the trainer or trainers.  The training program shall include lecture or online learning, hands-on training, and a final examination, both practical and written.

IX.  Wreckers dispatched shall arrive at the scene within 30 minutes of being called, except for cases where the travel distance, posted speeds, and traffic and weather conditions and volume of traffic make this unreasonable.  For heavy duty calls the company shall respond within a maximum of 60 minutes regardless of the time of day.  If the time exceeds the above limit and the tow business does not provide state police communications or the appropriate law enforcement agency  a valid reason for the delay within that time, a second rotation wrecker may be dispatched.  If a second wrecker is requested before the arrival of the initially dispatched rotation wrecker, the initially requested wrecker shall forfeit the call and leave the incident scene.  Repeated tardiness may result in suspension or removal from the rotation list.

X.  If a tow business responds to a rotation call and through no fault of its own, does not tow the vehicle, the business shall retain its position on the rotation list.

XI.  Towing personnel shall wear reflective clothing meeting Federal Highway Administration specifications at all times when working in or adjacent to the roadway.

XII.  The tow business shall maintain a reasonably secure area for the safe storage of motor vehicles or other items stored at the request of the state police.  Storage facilities shall be clearly marked as belonging to that particular tow business and shall have adequate lighting to illuminate the enclosed area.  Storage facilities shall include a gated or fenced area adequate to reasonably secure the storage facility and prevent unauthorized entrance.  Camera surveillance is recommended but not mandatory.

XIII.  A secure building that meets all state and local codes and which is suitably alarmed may substitute for a fenced area if the tow business provides for total inside storage, provided that any such building shall pass an inspection by the troop commander.

XIV.  The tow business shall provide reasonable accommodations for after-hours release of personal property in stored vehicles or other related storage once the state police releases any hold on personal or other property not affixed to the towed vehicle, and upon payment in full or mutual agreement for payment of all towing and storage fees.  A vehicle towed at the request of law enforcement shall grant ownership rights to the tow business, equal to the cost of recovery and storage subordinate to none.  Any person who makes any payment to a tow business to secure release of the vehicle or parts of the vehicle which is then canceled or made with a fraudulent check or credit card or counterfeit money shall be guilty of theft of a motor vehicle from the rightful owner and shall, in addition to any penalties imposed for theft under any other provision of law, require a minimum one year suspension of all licenses and registrations.

XV.  In all cases the vehicle owner or his or her agent shall be allowed to remove items from within the vehicle that are not a part of or accessories to the vehicle.  The tow business, unless it can show just cause, shall release such personal property to the rightful owner.

XVI.  Under no circumstance may a tow business withhold wallets, purses, life essential clothing, mail, legal documents, child safety seats, eyeglasses or contact lenses, medicines, medical equipment, license plates, or house keys pending payment of fees.

XVII.  Any towing or recovery vehicle used by the tow business shall display lettering on both sides of the vehicle in letters that contrast in color with the background and are readily legible during daylight hours from a distance of 50 feet while said vehicle is stationary, and kept and maintained in a manner that retains such legibility, indicating the name or trade name of the wrecking service or owner thereof, and the city or town and state in which said vehicle is customarily based and the business telephone number on each front door of the truck.  The identification number issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to the motor carrier, preceded by the letters "USDOT"; shall also be included in such lettering.

XVIII.  The tow business shall maintain tow and hook, liability, and garage-keepers' liability insurance in an amount not less than that designated under New Hampshire law or administrative rule.  This shall include a minimum coverage of $1,000,000 in liability including garage-keeper's insurance coverage.  The tow business shall also maintain a New Hampshire workers' compensation insurance policy and proof of payment of New Hampshire employment security taxes for all its operators and employees unless exempted under New Hampshire law.

XIX.  The tow business shall not place or imprint on its vehicles, buildings, equipment, clothing, or correspondence anything that suggests or implies an official relationship between the company and any emergency services provider or law enforcement agency.  This shall extend to paint schemes, colors, shoulder patches, or decals similar in design to department of safety or state police vehicles or any name or logo implying an official connection.  State police may design and issue a suitable decal to indicate that a tow vehicle's owner is on the rotating list.  Termination of services to the rotation list or suspension, even if temporary, from the rotation list shall require any decal provided, issued, or approved by state police to be removed immediately from the tow vehicle if such vehicle will be operated on public roads.

XX.  The tow business shall provide state police and other law enforcement agencies administrating a tow list responsible for public safety including clearing roads and entrances of disabled or abandoned vehicles with a complete list of all rates for the services it performs related to the towing and storage of vehicles, on the letterhead of the business, and shall update such list when prices change.  Law enforcement shall not set the fees for these services nor use the rate schedule provided in its implementation of the rotation schedule.  Price lists shall remain confidential except when determining the reasonable fee in a requested hearing conducted by the dept of safety.

XXI.  Whenever the owner of a towed or impounded vehicle or their agent pays a towing company for those services, the company shall provide a detailed receipt to the owner or agent for the services rendered.

XXII.  Motorists using a wrecker under the rotation list shall have the option of paying by cash or major debit or credit card.  The tow business may inquire, prior to accepting a dispatch, as to how the motorist will be paying.  If the tow business does not accept major debit or credit cards the next wrecker or tow business that does accept such method of payment shall be utilized, provided that the tow business that does not accept such method of payment shall not lose its position on the rotation.  The owner of a towed or impounded vehicle who believes an exorbitant or unreasonable fee was charged for towing the vehicle if such service rendered was covered by RSA 262:31 through RSA 262:40-c, may file a complaint with the commissioner of safety and request review pursuant to RSA 262:35-a.  If not covered by RSA 262:31 through RSA 262:40-c, and the owner or his or her agent shall be notified of his or her ability to make a complaint to the consumer protection division of the department of justice.

XXIII.  A tow business shall not be operated without a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration safety registration and an active U.S. Department of Transportation number, valid New Hampshire registration, valid New Hampshire worker's compensation insurance, and proof of New Hampshire employment security tax identification number, unless expressly exempted under New Hampshire law.

262-A:5  Requirements to Remain on the Tow List.

I.  Tow personnel shall perform a general cleanup of an accident area before leaving the scene, and remove any glass, vehicle parts, debris, or other substances dropped or spilled prior to leaving an incident scene.  Vehicle fluids or hazardous substances shall not be intentionally drained or left on the road or surrounding environment.  There will be no charge for normal highway cleanup of 30 minutes or less unless cleanup is part of the itemized bill.  If the debris field was caused by more than one vehicle all tow personnel shall share in the cleanup duties under the direction of the trooper in charge at the scene.

II.  The tow business shall be responsible for securing and preserving personal property in a vehicle to be towed, unless the owner or person responsible is present and wishes to take custody of it.

III.  The tow business shall employ reasonable safeguards and procedures so that all personal belongings and contents in the towed vehicle are intact and returned to the vehicle's owner or authorized agent upon release of the vehicle upon payment in full or mutual agreement for payment of fees with the exception of those essential items as provided

IV.  All personal property left in a vehicle and unclaimed shall be handled in accordance with applicable state laws.

V.  No tow business shall accept a call if the employee who will be responding is under the influence of any substance that could cause impairment or has the odor of alcohol on his or her breath.

VI.  The tow business shall maintain a log or ledger of all vehicles towed at the request of state police.  It shall contain the date, time, and location of the tow, a description of the vehicle towed including the vehicle identification number, registration plate number and state of registration, name of the tow vehicle operator, and location to which the vehicle was towed.  This record and any other records and equipment associated with compliance of these applicable state statutes and these rules shall be open to inspection by state police personnel during normal business hours and retained for the year when the record was made and one full year beyond.

VII.  The owner or owners, operator, and any employee of the tow business on the list shall comply with all applicable state and federal laws and local ordinances.  In matters where conflict of laws arises the tow business shall follow the lawful direction of the law enforcement officer controlling the scene of the investigations and shall be held harmless from any conflicts.

VIII.  All wrecker drivers shall have a valid driver's license for the type of vehicle being driven.  A limited driving privilege license shall not be permitted.  Wrecker drivers shall have a motor vehicle record free of convictions of serious motor vehicle offenses or license revocations or suspensions for motor vehicle offenses for the past 5 years.

IX.  Tow companies on the tow list shall not permit any person to drive a wrecker if such person has a criminal record of convictions for any felony or for convictions involving fraudulent activity, assaults, sex offenses, burglary, theft, disorderly conduct, criminal threatening, or domestic violence occurring within the past 7 years, and or who is currently subject to probation or parole supervision.

X.  Wreckers at the scene of a service call may be asked to provide minor on-site repairs, such as jump-starting a dead battery or changing a tire.

XI.  Each tow vehicle shall carry at a minimum the following supplies and equipment in good working order, in addition to meeting the requirements herein for each class of vehicle that will be responding to wrecker calls:

(a)  Emergency lights meeting statutory requirements, visible at 3/4 of a mile when illuminated; and visible over any vehicle being towed.  Sirens are prohibited.

(b)  At least one working spotlight capable of being aimed.

(c)  One fire extinguisher, 5-lb. carbon monoxide or dry powder, fully charged and able to be operated.

(d)  At least one heavy duty push broom and garbage container.

(e)  One steering lock bar.

(f)  A first aid kit.

(g)  A reflectorized safety vest for each employee on the vehicle.

(h)  For heavy duty vehicles and heavy duty recovery vehicles, portable lighting equipment.

(i)  Heavy duty wreckers and heavy duty recovery vehicles shall have 10 of at least 2 of the following: reflector flare, road flare, colored LED flashing road flare.  Lighter vehicles shall have at least 3 of 2 or more of the following: reflector flare, road flare, colored LED flashing road flare.  Traffic cones may be substituted for one of the above on a clear day during the hours from dawn to dusk.

(j)  At least one flat scoop type shovel.

(k)  For heavy duty wreckers and heavy duty recovery vehicles, 2 pry bars.

(l)  For heavy duty wreckers, medium duty wreckers, and heavy-duty recovery vehicles called to recover vehicles with air assisted breaks, the capability to provide air to the towed vehicle to facilitate brake operation.

(m)  A current, valid motor vehicle registration and a current, valid state safety inspection sticker.

(n)  An FCC licensed two-way business radio or a wireless telephone.

(o)  Portable lights for any vehicle being towed including taillights, stop lights, and directional signals.

(p)  A minimum of 40 pounds of sand or other appropriate absorbent material designed and verified by the manufacturer to absorb hazardous waste and spills in an efficient and effective manner.

XII.  State police and other law enforcement agencies administrating a tow list shall conduct an annual review of the criminal and motor vehicle history of business owners and wrecker operators to determine if any convictions would impact a business's qualifications to remain on the tow list since such business's inclusion.  Troop commanders or their designees and other law enforcement agencies administrating a tow list responsible for public safety including clearing roads and entrances of disabled or abandoned vehicles shall conduct random inspections of business locations to ensure they remain compliant with requirements to be on the list and shall conduct investigations of any complaints from the public regarding improper conduct.

XIII.  State police and other law enforcement agency administrating a tow list responsible for public safety including clearing roads and entrances of disabled or abandoned vehicles shall conduct an annual inspection of the place of business of towing businesses on the rotation list and shall examine the premises, vehicles, and applicable records to determine continued compliance with this chapter and any relevant administrative rules, and shall file a narrative report with the troop commander regarding the inspection, giving opinion as to whether the business is in compliance with this chapter and any relevant administrative rules.

XIV.  In cases of non-compliance the troop commander or other law enforcement agency administrating a tow list shall take appropriate action which may include a verbal or written warning, or a recommendation to suspend or revoke the business from continued participation in the rotating list.  Any such action shall be discretionary and shall be based on the nature and seriousness of any deficiency and the prior record of the business.

XV.  Tow vehicle owners, operators, and employees shall not be abusive, disrespectful, or use profane language when dealing with the public or officials and shall cooperate with the members of the state police.

XVI.  Tow businesses shall employ only drivers who demonstrate an ability to perform required services in a safe, timely, courteous and civil manner and who satisfy all applicable state and federal laws and regulations.

XVII.  The tow business shall tow disabled vehicles to any destination requested by the vehicle owner or person in charge of the vehicle after financial obligations have been finalized to the satisfaction of the tow business providing the service.  The tow business may hold the vehicle for payment of services at the business location if not satisfied with payment on site.

XVIII.  Unless informed by the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction that a vehicle is being preserved as evidence the business shall allow insurance adjusters with proper documentation, including necessary liability insurance and workers compensation covering any injuries sustained while doing so, access to inspect and photograph the towed vehicle at any time during normal business hours.  Because a yard holding vehicles can be very dangerous if precautions are not taken, all access shall be contingent upon presentation of proper insurance coverage holding the tow business immune from liability for injury.  The insurance inspector, appraiser, or employee may fax or email a certificate of insurance in anticipation of the visit or may bring it with them.  A vehicle owner or the owner's authorized agent, upon presentation of suitable identification, may enter the yard under supervision by the tow business to remove personal items or belongings.  The owner may retrieve license plates from the vehicle only if the payment for services has been satisfactorily made.

XIX.  A wrecker operator on the rotation list shall not offer towing services to the owner or operator of a vehicle currently under the supervision of law enforcement unless dispatched by the rotation list or specifically hailed for service by the trooper or other law enforcement agency officer under emergency circumstances.  Any activity done or designed for the purpose of circumventing the list shall be cause for the division to remove the business from the rotating list permanently or for a specific time determined by the division.

XX.  Tow service vehicles shall not drive at an unsafe or unreasonable speed, commit other moving motor vehicle violations or drive recklessly on the way to or from a towing service call, and may be removed from the list for such behavior.

XXI.  Law enforcement officers shall not show any favoritism or circumvent the tow list to favor one or more businesses and shall be subject to divisional discipline for doing so.

XXII.  Before being removed from the rotational list for disciplinary procedures, a tow business shall be served with a notice of intent to remove and shall be notified that it may request a hearing before the bureau of hearings before such removal.  A tow business that is removed from the list may contest this action in court in the same manner as applies to other license and registration suspension or revocation hearings.

262-A:6  Recordkeeping; Mandatory Records.  

I.  Each operator or business on the rotating list shall maintain a record system covering all services performed in roadside service, pulling, towing, or transporting vehicles in response to calls from the state police, which shall include the following information:

(a)  The date and time of day the business was contacted and requested to the scene and the times of arrival and departure from the scene.

(b)  The name of the person requesting the service.

(c)  The location of the vehicle or incident.

(d)  A description of the vehicle including license plate and vehicle identification number.

(e)  The name and address of the owner or lessee of the vehicle, if known.

(f)  The name and address, date of birth, driver license number, and licensing state or province of the driver of the vehicle, if known.

(g)  The service or towing charge and other related fees.

II.  All such records shall be available for inspection and copying by state troopers or agents of the department of safety during normal business hours at the place of business of the wrecker business, and shall be maintained for the current calendar year and the year immediately prior to the current calendar year.

262-A:7  Confiscated Vehicles; Impoundment.  A state trooper or law enforcement agency may impound or confiscate a vehicle towed by a tow business that is on the rotation list in furtherance of law enforcement duties, such as when the vehicle is reported stolen or involved in a crime, is unsafe to be driven, or is to be processed for possible forensic evidence of a crime.  In such events:

I.  The vehicle may be towed to a location specified by the processing officer to facilitate evidence preservation, collection or processing, otherwise it will be securely stored on the premises of the towing service.

II.  The towing and storage of the vehicle shall be at the expense of the state police and the wrecker business shall not release the vehicle to anyone unless and until authorized to do so by the trooper who arranged for the hold or a state police officer superior in rank to that trooper, or on an order by the court.

III.  The tow business shall not allow anyone except a member of the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction or someone having written permission from the state police to enter, inspect or touch the vehicle or any parts from the vehicle.

IV.  When the vehicle is released, the tow business shall require the person to whom the vehicle is released display a valid photo driver license or other official government photo identification, and the tow business shall keep a photocopy of such card or document.

3  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

 

LBAO

20-2923

Revised 2/3/20

 

SB 724-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS INTRODUCED

 

AN ACT relative to removal of abandoned or disabled vehicles by towing.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:      [ X ] State              [    ] County               [    ] Local              [    ] None

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

STATE:

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022

FY 2023

   Appropriation

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

$0

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Funding Source:

  [ X ] General            [    ] Education            [ X ] Highway           [ X ] Other - Turnpike Fund

 

METHODOLOGY:

This bill modifies procedures surrounding the removal of abandoned or disabled vehicles.  Department of Safety states any impact to state expenditures is indeterminable relative to administering this bill, specifically regarding inspecting and approving wrecker or other motorist service assistance vehicles for a tow list.

 

This bill will have no fiscal impact on the Department of Transportation.

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Department of Safety and Department of Transportation

 

Links

SB724 at GenCourtMobile
SB724 Discussion

Action Dates

Date Body Type
Feb. 18, 2020 Senate Hearing
March 5, 2020 Senate Floor Vote

Bill Text Revisions

SB724 Revision: 8038 Date: Feb. 3, 2020, 3:26 p.m.

Docket

Date Status
Jan. 8, 2020 Introduced 01/08/2020 and Referred to Transportation; SJ 2
Feb. 18, 2020 Hearing: 02/18/2020, Room 103, LOB, 02:15 pm; SC 4
March 5, 2020 Committee Report: Ought to Pass with Amendment # 2020-0756s, 03/05/2020; Vote 5-0; CC; SC 9