Coloradans who have their car towed sometimes face an impossible choice: Pay hundreds to get their vehicle back to drive to work or pick up their kids from day care, or risk losing the car to pay rent.
That dynamic is about to change after Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday signed into law the “Towing Carrier Nonconsensual Tows” bill.
HB22-1314 evens the playing field that has long tilted in favor of towing carriers, bill sponsors say, amounting to a new towing bill of rights that increases protections for car owners.
The biggest change: Tow yards will have to return your car if you’re able to pay 15% of the fees, capped at $60. The vehicle owner will still have to pay off the rest, but will not be required to do so immediately to get their car back.
“This has been a real problem for people across the state for a decade,” said Zach Neumann, co-founder and executive director of the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project. “This law is going to have a meaningful impact on abusive and predatory towing.”
Other changes in the bill include a mandate that towers must now give 24 hours’ notice before removing a car from an apartment parking lot or mobile home park. The law also forbids towers from removing cars due to expired plates, unless ordered by police, and empowers Colorado’s attorney general to enforce infractions.
Consumer protection advocates and car owners previously told The Denver Post that they feel targeted by these tow companies, recalling instances where their cars were removed for minuscule infractions — or even for no reason at all.
Mobile home residents in particular have said they worry about having guests overnight for fear their cars will be gone when they wake up in the morning.
The towing industry opposed the bill in unusually strong language, slamming the lawmakers for not understanding the industry, while saying it’s a few bad actors giving the rest of them a bad name.
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