Looking at Towing


We are over a year away from the next regular session of the Arkansas legislature. But that doesn't mean some lawmakers aren't already thinking about possible legislation.

One working group talked about tow truck regulations at the Capitol today.

The law in Arkansas only requires a towing company charge a reasonable rate. But some national trucking companies consider towing rates in Arkansas so unreasonable that they are developing routes that bypass our state.

Legislators considering how to better regulate the towing industry in Arkansas seem to be in agreement on one thing: a state law probably isn't the answer.

"The people that's closest to the issue...whether it is the city government or the county government...the ones closest to the issue are the ones more apt to solve it," says committee chairman State Senator Eddie Joe Williams.

When Senator Williams was mayor of Cabot the city did enact an ordinance governing non-consent tows.

Rates are set. If a wrecker service doesn't like it or doesn't follow it, they can be removed from the non-consent tow rotation. But since most tows are non-consent...meaning they are requested by a law-enforcement agency...most towing companies abide.

The problem is many cities and counties don't have ordinances. That's why many states pass state laws.

Take storage rates for example. In Oklahoma and Louisiana rates are capped at $18.00 per day. In Texas and Georgia the cap is $15.00. In Ohio it's $12.00. And in Maryland towing companies can't charge more than $8.00 per day to store an averaged-sized passenger vehicle.

But the committee seems hesitant to consider such statewide solutions to the number one towing complaint: alleged over charging.

"I'd like to tell you that storing a car in McGehee Arkansas is worth the same amount as storing a car in Fayetteville," says Senator Williams. "It's probably not."

This working group will meet again December 12th.

It will work to develop some model towing ordinances that cities and counties could consider.

Air date: November 13th, 2013