Senate Bill 556 History
OTHER VERSIONS -
Senate Bill No. 556
(By Senators Love, Edgell, Bailey, Minard, Fanning,
Jenkins, Caruth and Hunter)
[Originating in the Committee on Transportation and
Infrastructure; reported February 22, 2008.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by
adding thereto a new article, designated §24A-2A-1, §24A-2A-2,
§24A-2A-3 and §24A-2A-4, all relating to the disposition of
unlawfully parked vehicles by common carriers engaged in the
business of towing, hauling or carrying wrecked or disabled
vehicles and mobile homes; defining certain terms; providing
for prior written authorization for the towing of motor
vehicles without the consent of the owner or operator;
providing for criminal background checks for operators of
towing vehicles; providing the local law-enforcement agency
with information regarding a vehicle that has been towed and
stored; establishing procedures for redeeming a towed motor
vehicle and the personal property in the towed motor vehicle;
and directing the Public Service Commission to conduct a study of statutory law regarding the towing of vehicles and to
provide findings and recommendations to the Legislature.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended
by adding thereto a new article, designated §24A-2A-1, §24A-2A-2,
§24A-2A-3, and §24A-2A-4, to read as follows:
CHAPTER 24A. MOTOR CARRIERS OF PASSENGERS
AND PROPERTY FOR HIRE.
ARTICLE 2A. Disposition of towed vehicles by common carriers
engaged in the business of towing, hauling or
carrying wrecked or disabled vehicles and mobile
For the purposes of this article, the words or terms defined
in this section, and any variation of those words or terms required
by the context, have the meanings ascribed to them in this section.
These definitions are applicable unless a different meaning clearly
appears from the context.
(1) "Nonconsent tow" means the tow of a motor vehicle by a
wrecker vehicle if that tow is performed without a direct request
by the owner or operator of the motor vehicle to the tower, and
includes a third-party tow of a motor vehicle by a wrecker vehicle
if that tow is performed at the request of any person other than
the owner or operator of the motor vehicle to be towed.
(2) "Tower" means any person who, after properly filing a
completed application for a certificate of convenience in this
state to transport motor vehicles by wrecker vehicle for hire, with
the appropriate application fee, has received a letter from the
commission's transportation division informing the person that he
or she has been authorized to transport motor vehicles in wrecker
service for hire, over the public highways of West Virginia,
between all points and places of West Virginia in intrastate
(3) "Towing service" means an authorized wrecker company that
transports motor vehicles by wrecker vehicle for hire.
§24A-2A-2. Regulation of business of towing, hauling or carrying
wrecked or disabled vehicles.
(a) A non-consent tow of a motor vehicle from private
property may not be performed unless the authorized wrecker company
that is to tow the vehicle shall have received a prior written
request from the owner of the private property, or his or her
lessee or agent, to perform a non-consent tow. A copy of the
written request for non-consent towing must have been filed by the
wrecker company with the Public Service Commission prior to
performing a non-consent tow.
(B) As a condition of employment of a person as an operator
of a towing vehicle or wrecker vehicle, a wrecker company shall
require a criminal records investigation of the applicant. This requirement is applicable to all initial hires to determine
suitability for employment. Applicants are required to disclose
criminal history information as a part of the application process.
No candidate for an operator's position shall be employed until a
satisfactory background investigation has been completed. Only
"conditional" offers can be extended until a background
investigation has been completed. If it is found that the
applicant has been convicted of a felony, it shall be reported to
the Public Service Commission. In cases where employment may have
been initiated prior to the enactment of this statutory requirement
for a criminal records investigation, the Public Service Commission
may conduct such criminal background investigations as it deems
necessary to determine the employee's suitability for continued
(c) Upon completion of a non-consent tow, the towing vehicle
operator must contact the local law-enforcement agency upon arrival
at the towing destination, report the private property from the
vehicle which has been towed, the make, model and license number of
the vehicle, and the address and location of the facility to which
the vehicle has been towed and is stored.
(d) The tow company shall accept cash, credit cards, debit
cards or money orders as payment for the recovery of the vehicle by
the owner of the vehicle.
(e) The tow company may not charge a storage fee for the initial twenty-four hours of service immediately following the tow.
§24A-2A-3. Redeeming a motor vehicle.
(a) A tower shall permit the owner or operator of a motor
vehicle that the tower has towed to:
(1) Redeem the motor vehicle:
(A) Immediately between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through
Friday, except legal holidays; and
(B) At all other hours, within 30 minutes after asking the
tower to release the motor vehicle;
(2) Contact the tower at any time to receive information about
the location of the motor vehicle and instructions for obtaining
release of the motor vehicle; and
(3) Obtain all personal property in the motor vehicle within
24 hours after asking the tower to release the personal property,
without redeeming the motor vehicle.
(b) A tower shall not require, as a condition of towing a
motor vehicle or releasing a motor vehicle or personal property in
the motor vehicle, that the owner or operator of the motor vehicle
agree not to dispute:
(1) The reason for the tow;
(2) The validity or amount of charges; or
(3) The responsibility of the tower for the condition of the
motor vehicle or personal property in the motor vehicle.
(c) A tower shall not hold a towed motor vehicle, including the personal property inside the vehicle, in an unsafe manner.
§24A-2A-4. Public Service Commission to conduct study of statutory
law and recommend legislation.
(a) The Public Service Commission is hereby directed to
conduct a study of the body of statutory law of sister states that
has been enacted with the goal of prohibiting the predatory towing
of motor vehicles without the consent of the owners or operators of
Such study should identify and define actions taken by
predatory towing services as a means to extract large monetary
charges from the owners of vehicles that have been towed without
the consent of the owners or operators. The Commission shall
recommend to the legislature a proposed list of prohibited acts
which should be made applicable to any wrecker company or any other
person who undertakes, under a certificate of convenience and
necessity to transport motor vehicles by wrecker vehicle for hire
in this state.
The Commission shall recommend information required to be
disclosed to the owner or operator of a motor vehicle that has been
towed and impounded.
The Commission shall recommend proposed legislation that will
assist members of the public in expediting the recovery of any
impounded motor vehicle and any personal property located in that
The Commission shall address the issue of when and where
warning signs should be required that prohibit or restrict leaving
or parking a motor vehicle in a parking facility.
The Commission shall recommend procedures that would be
applicable to towing a motor vehicle from a parking facility or
private property and placing it in storage, and would identify the
rights and obligations of the towing company and the owner of the
(b) The findings and recommendations of the Public Service
Commission as provided for in subsection (a) of this section shall
be filed with the respective Clerks of the Senate and the House of
Delegates, on or before the November 1, 2008.