With the legislature adjourning several days ago, we thought now would be a good opportunity to bring you up to date on the revision of the towing statute that is PC 826. This was primarily sponsored by Senator Bailey and co-sponsored by Senators Powers and Stevens in the Senate and primarily sponsored by Representative Marsh and co-sponsored by Representative Hazelwood in the House.

The purpose of this legislation is to tighten up some of the notification requirements after equipment is towed in regard to T.C.A. § 66-19-103 – Garage keepers or Towing Firms Lien. There is a difference between public tows and private tows. Public tows contain a more detailed process when it comes to notifying equipment owners when equipment has been towed. A public tow is a tow that is authorized by a public agency like a local police department or state highway patrol. Also, there are stiff penalties for towing/garage keeper firms that do not provide immediate notice when equipment is towed. Although private tows do not occur as often as public tows, this has still caused some issues over the past several months where equipment was being towed from private property. Before the legislation was amended this year (HB2245/SB2886), when private tows were involved, the only notice that was given was a notice provided in a local news publication which would have contained, if ascertainable, the VIN and advertising that the equipment would be sold. 
The legislation that was passed now requires that if the motor vehicle being towed clearly identifies the USDOT number issued by the FMCSA, a registration plate issued and attached to the motor vehicle described in § 55-4-113(a)(2), or a registration plate issued and attached to the trailer described in § 55-4-113(a)(5), the garage keeper or towing firm is required to notify the owner of the motor vehicle identified by the USDOT number or the owner assigned to the registration plate issued at the address identified with the USDOT number, rental equipment information, or the vehicle’s registration within three (3) working days of taking possession of such vehicle or equipment by registered mail, return receipt requested. A violation of this requirement is now a violation of Title 47, Chapter 18, Part 1.

There have been comments by one person who allegedly speaks on behalf of the towing industry that the state law required a three-day notification. That is incorrect and did not provide that the towing company had to use the information provided for the USDOT no. or registered plates to provide the three-day notice. Hopefully, this newly enacted law will cut down on some of the bad behavior of towing companies in regard to failing to provide notice of towing of equipment and also provide adequate notice of the sale of equipment.