COLORADO, USA — If your car is parked illegally, you should definitely move it, but a new law could give you more time in certain situations before a hefty towing bill ruins your day.
As of Wednesday, tow truck companies in Colorado must give 24 hours' written notice before towing your car from the parking lot of an apartment, condo or mobile home park.
The legislation, dubbed by lawmakers as the "towing bill of rights," also prohibits tow companies from towing cars with expired registration.
“This law basically is a complete overhaul of towing in Colorado," said Rep. Naquetta Ricks, a Democrat who co-sponsored the bill signed into law.
Before tow companies remove any car, the new law requires them to take pictures of the vehicle.
"Now, they do have to prove that you are violating the law," Ricks said.
The new law still includes several exceptions where your car can be towed immediately from an apartment, condo or mobile home parking lot.
Tow truck companies are not required to give prior notice to tow a car in the following cases:
- The car owner has two previous notices for parking illegally.
- The car is being repossessed.
- The tow is ordered by a court or police officer.
- A car blocking a driveway or roadway.
- A car illegally parked in a handicapped space.
- A car blocking a fire zone.
- A car parked in someone's reserved, paid parking space.
- A car parked without a resident pass in a lot requiring passes.
“That encompasses about 95% of the reason people’s cars get towed, so it’s not going to be a big change for the parking customer out there," said Drew Hamrick, general counsel for the Colorado Apartment Association.
Hamrick said the statute requirements are similar to what most housing providers have been doing all along.
"They tow without notice for more emergency-type towing situations and provide 24-hour notice for things that don’t have to be resolved so quickly," Hamrick said.
The new law also requires tow truck companies to post signage outside their businesses listing the maximum rate for a tow.
If your car is towed, the new law allows you to get it back without having to pay the entire bill all at once.
Car owners can retrieve their vehicles if they pay 15% of the fees, up to $60, and sign an agreement with the tow company to pay the amount in full.
“In about 10% of the cases, there’s people who just don’t have the money," said Ricks.
Some of those people testified in committee hearings, Ricks said. They talked about the impact of having their cars towed and not being able to cover the cost of the tow.
"They could not get to work, could not take their kids to school or doctors appointments, could not get to take their kids to daycare," Ricks said.
An unexpected tow can ruin a day, but Ricks hopes the new law will lead to fewer horror stories.
“This will bring relief to consumers and to drivers here in Colorado," she said.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Politics