Last updated: December 28. 2013 10:24AM - 1965 Views

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Ohio has done a poor job of protecting residents and visitors from being preyed upon by dishonest tow-truck operators. Legislators, especially those from big cities, hear the complaints. Tow-truck operators wield a lot of unchecked power over their captive customer base, and the state should do something to keep it from being abused.

Rep. Heather Bishoff, D-Blacklick, told Gongwer News Service that she has heard from local college students who have lost their cars for days because tow lots have made it so difficult to get them back.

So Bishoff and Rep. Mike Duffey, R-Worthington, have introduced House Bill 382 to put a halt to some questionable practices. The ideas sound reasonable and deserve debate and consideration.

One provision requires tow-truck operators to inform people of their rights. Under state law, for example, if a vehicle owner arrives while the truck driver is still hooking up the car, the owner can pay half the typical rate and have it unhooked.

Many owners, especially out-of-state visitors and students, might not know that.

Another provision makes it illegal for companies to charges fees not authorized by state law. …

The bill also requires that tow companies accept major credit cards from vehicle owners, both at the site of the tow and on the lot. Often towing companies demand cash — more than most people carry around — or some other inconvenient form of payment to get a vehicle back.

H.B. 382 prohibits companies from taking towed vehicles farther than 25 miles away. It also requires the tow-truck drivers to take at least one timed and dated photograph of the car proving that it was illegally parked.

— The Columbus Dispatch

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