Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Alabama Towing Bill passes, moves to governor’s desk for signature

Alabama’s towing bill has passed the State Legislature. SB201, which provides for an appeals process to contest excessive towing fees, has passed the Alabama House this afternoon by a vote of 96 to 2. The bill now goes to Governor Kay Ivey, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

For many years, Alabama State Troopers have used a “rotation system” by which wrecker businesses were collected into a pool which troopers used based on location, availability, and need. The pool system was used to more quickly clean up damaged or disabled vehicles on state highways and the process was supposed to be random.

Trucking companies were usually left out of the decision to pick a wrecker service provider, and they were sometimes unfamiliar with the area where the accident occurred. That left trucking companies at the mercy of towing businesses which could sometimes result in outlandish fees and charges. If the trucking company contested and refused payment the wrecker serviced held property and vehicles with little-to-no recourse.

Meanwhile, the longer a dispute lasted, the more quickly fees could be added for vehicle storage, causing a final bill to skyrocket quickly.

ATA president Frank Figo said that his organization is indebted to bill sponsor Senator Greg Reed (R-Jasper) and to Rep. Donnie Chesteen (R-Geneva) for carrying the legislation in the House as it was brought up for deliberation. Likewise, several House members took to the mic in support of the bill including Representatives Rep. Alan Boothe (R-Troy), Paul Lee (R-Dothan), Rep Dexter Grimsley (D-Newville), and Margie Wilcox (R-Mobile).

Rep. Alan Boothe (R-Troy), who serves as the House Rules Committee Chairman, played a key role in making sure the bill came to the House floor prior to the session ending.

Rules required to be adopted pursuant to this act will be adopted by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) no later than November 9 1, 2017, and become effective on the first day of the third month following its passage and approval by the Governor, or it otherwise becoming law.