Council considers redefining tow truck charges

Marina Riker By Marina Riker

June 7, 2017 at 9:51 p.m.
Updated June 7, 2017 at 10:45 p.m.

Victoria residents may soon pay a flat rate if their cars are towed after being involved in crashes investigated by police.

In the past, tow truck companies have been able to charge add-on fees for things such as the use of certain tools. But on Tuesday, Victoria City Council members initially approved a proposal to charge a standard fee for towing.

The City Council also decided to update previous rules that require tow truck drivers to be at crash scenes within a certain period of time. The rules also create a rotation for which towing companies police call when a driver is impaired or a car is damaged.

"There are places (outside of Victoria) where there are three, four trucks that will show up at one time where they're not regulated," said Councilman Tom Halepaska. "I think this is a very good ordinance."

Council members have to vote on the proposal again before it becomes an ordinance.

Under the new rule, tow truck companies would be able to charge no more than $200 to tow most vehicles, plus $25 for every 15-minute period they worked after arriving on the scene, according to city documents. Companies would also be allowed to charge $3 for every mile when towing a vehicle outside city limits.

Meanwhile, large vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 pounds must be towed by a "heavy-duty" tow truck, which would be able to charge $550 per tow, in addition to charges for time worked and for towing outside city limits, according to city documents.

During Tuesday's meeting, City Manager Charmelle Garrett said this is the first time the towing rates have been changed since 2011. The city only regulates rates when the police call tow truck companies - not when vehicle owners do so voluntarily, she said.

"This creates kind of an orderly process for tow trucks to respond to accidents," said Garrett. "It's critical that we get that accident scene cleared as quickly as possible."

Allan Miller Jr., who owns Allan's Wrecker Service, said he doesn't yet know how he feels about the rule changes.

Miller, whose company has been operating in Victoria for about 40 years, said his company worked with the city to form the proposal. But Miller said he doesn't want to offer an opinion until council members approve the new law.

"I don't know what they're going to approve or not going to approve," Miller said.



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