TERRE HAUTE —
The Terre Haute Police Department wants motorists to know the city’s new non-consensual towing ordinance is in full effect.
The ordinance, passed by the City Council in January, took effect after a 45-day grace period and, in recent weeks, the first citations and warnings were issued under the new rules. “Non-consensual” towing is the towing of vehicles without the vehicle owner’s permission from restricted parking spaces.
A single towing company, of the four licensed to operate in Terre Haute, received all six citations and three warnings made available to the news media Thursday during a news conference at the police headquarters on Wabash Avenue.
Two of the citations and one of the warnings involved charging more for towing than allowed under the new ordinance. Other violations involved improper paperwork and towing a vehicle from a parking lot without proper signage.
The company cited has acknowledged the problems and plans to fix them, said Detective Brad Rumsey.
Police have received complaints about other towing companies, said Detective David Garland.
The ordinance had its roots in complaints about a company that no longer operates in the city accused of charging excessive fees to return cars towed from private parking lots.
The citations recently issued under the new ordinance were brought on by citizen complaints, Garland said.
“We’re trying to protect people from having their vehicles towed illegally,” Garland said. “The ordinance stipulates that they can seek a refund from the company if their vehicle has been towed illegally.”
The ordinance caps the maximum non-consensual towing and vehicle storage fees at 25 percent greater than the current limits established for towing and storage jobs requested by the police department. The maximum fee, under the ordinance, for most towing jobs is currently $93.75, and the maximum storage fee is currently $18.75 per day,
The ordinance also requires easily visible signs at parking lots where non-consensual towing takes place and city-issued licenses for non-consensual towing companies. It also sets minimum insurance requirements for companies and prohibits what would essentially be “kickback” payments from towing firms to parking lot owners.
For the full text of the ordinance, visit the City of Terre Haute website, www.terrehaute.in.gov, and look under City Council January 2013 ordinances and resolutions.
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or firstname.lastname@example.org