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  • Summary date: Jun 12 2024 - View Summary

    House committee substitute to the 1st edition makes the following changes.

    Amends proposed GS 20-219.31 by adding and defining the term consensual towing business as any person or entity that engages in towing of motor vehicles from private property with the consent of the owner of the motor vehicle. Changes the definition of nonconsensual towing business to any person or entity that engages in the booting or towing of improperly parked motor vehicles from private property without the consent of the owner of the motor vehicle. Makes a technical change.

    Moves the provisions concerning the establishment of the Towing and Recovery Commission (Commission) in proposed GS 20-219.65 into new GS 20-219.40 and makes the following changes. Places the Commission within the Department of Public Safety (DPS). Adds the following to the Commission’s duties: (1) issuing permits to consensual towing businesses and nonconsensual towing businesses, (2) creating a form to be used by nonconsensual towing businesses to itemize charges, (3) maintaining a consensual towing business database, (4) recording reports of suspected noncompliance with this article and the resolution of those complaints, and (5) administering the Article. Expands upon the Commission’s duty to annually establish maximum fees charged by a nonconsensual towing business to allow the Commission to create different maximum fees based on type of vehicle towed, consider regional variations in the cost of a nonconsensual towing business, divide the State into different regions based on those costs, and establish different maximum fees for the different regions. Adds the requirement to annually report specified information to the specified NCGA committee starting in 2026. Splits out the provisions concerning the Commission’s membership and meetings into new GS 20-219.45, makes conforming changes by renumbering the remaining statutes, and makes the following changes. Adds the Secretary of the Department of Public Safety, or their designee, to the Commission’s membership and names that person as the Chair of the Commission. Further amends the Commission’s membership by requiring that members appointed by the NCGA upon the recommendation of the Speaker of the House and President Pro Tempore of the Senate be members of the Towing and Recovery Professionals Association of North Carolina instead of the previously required representative of the nonconsensual towing business industry. Changes the term of members from two to three years, except creates staggered terms by requiring specified members to initially serve one- or two-year terms. Requires that the Commission’s first meeting be called by April 1, 2025. GS 20-219.40 and GS 20-219.45 are effective January 1, 2025.

    Amends the permitting requirements by also requiring consensual towing businesses, in addition to nonconsensual towing businesses, to obtain a permit before operating and renew the permit annually. Makes the Commission, instead of the Division of Motor Vehicles (Division), responsible for permitting and all related activities. Requires that the Commission create the required permit process and issue permits no later than July 1, 2025.

    Makes the Commission, instead of the Division, responsible for the statewide database. Amends the search parameters that a vehicle owner can enter into the database to include the vehicle’s make, model, and license plate number (was, license plate number). Adds that the information in the database is publicly accessible only upon a person entering: (1) the make of the vehicle, (2) the model of the vehicle, and (3) either the vehicle's license plate number or vehicle identification number. Specifies that a person will then be shown the location where the vehicle was towed to, that location’s hours of operation, the phone number of the nonconsensual towing business, and the amount the person must pay to retrieve the vehicle. Makes all other information in the database confidential and accessible only upon a request under GS Chapter 132 (Public Records). Shortens the time within which the nonconsensual towing business must enter the vehicle information into the database from within six hours to within one hour of booting or towing. Amends and clarifies information that must be added into the database.

    Amends the penalties for violating the signage requirements to now separate out punishments for private property owners and nonconsensual tow truck drivers as follows. Makes a private property owner that violates this section guilty of an infraction and allows the court to order the property owner to make restitution to the owner or operator of the improperly booted or towed motor vehicle in an amount equal to the fees for the booting, towing, and storage of the motor vehicle. Makes a nonconsensual tow truck driver guilty of an infraction subject to a penalty of not more than $100, with a second violation within 12 months of the first violation punished as an infraction with a penalty of not more than $200 and a third or subsequent violation within 12 months of the first violation punished as a Class 3 misdemeanor.

    Prohibits a town business from booting, towing, or attempting either for an occupied vehicle (previously prohibited booting an occupied vehicle). Adds that a commercial motor vehicle must not be booted.

    Adds the requirement that a nonconsensual towing business prepare and distribute bills on a standardized form. No longer prohibits a nonconsensual towing business from charging a fee for the storage or handling of personal property essential to the activities of daily living. Amends the provision regarding the storage or handling of cargo contained in a trailer by adding that when there is a dispute, if the cargo is attached to the trailer and cannot be removed from the trailers, the parties must execute a trailer swap where the swapped trailer is of equal or better condition than the original towed trailer and owned, leased, or operated by the same company.

    Removes the previous general December 1, 2024, effective date and instead sets the following effective dates. Statutes concerning the permits, database, towing and booting practices, and nonconsensual towing fees are effective July 1, 2025. The statute concerning required signage applies to offenses committed on or after July 1, 2025. Remaining statutes (definitions, limitations, and DPS authority to adopt rules) in the new Article are effective when the act becomes law.

    Gives DPS, instead of the Division, authority to adopt rules to implement the new Article.

    Requires that the Commission, beginning February 15, 2029, and every four years thereafter, report to the specified NCGA Committee recommending either (1) that the Commission continue existing or (2) that the Commission should sunset and its responsibilities be absorbed by DPS.

    Makes the changes to GS 20-219.20 (requirement to give notice of towing) effective July 1, 2025, instead of December 1, 2024.

    Amends GS 20-157 by requiring drivers to pull over to the side of the road when approached by a public service vehicle traveling to the scene of a wrecked or disabled vehicle, giving warning signal by appropriate light and by sound audible under normal conditions from a distance not less than 1,000 feet. Violations of the statute are a Class 2 misdemeanor. Applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2024.

    Changes the recipient of the $500,000 appropriation from the Division to DPS.

  • Summary date: May 2 2024 - View Summary

    Enacts new Article 7C, Nonconsensual Booting and Towing, to GS Chapter 20. Provides for fourteen defined terms including, tow, nonconsensual tow (towing with the prior consent or authorization the owner or operator of the motor vehicle), and boot. Specifies that Article 7C doesn’t apply to the towing of a vehicle at the direction of law enforcement or any other towing subject to Article 7A of GS Chapter 20 (concerning post-towing procedures). Adds new GS 20-219.40, requiring every nonconsensual towing business to obtain a permit from the Division of Motor Vehicles (Division) before operating in the State, which must be annually renewed. Provides for permit fees and permit forms. Requires the Division to issue or renew a permit if: (i) the application is complete and (ii) the applicant demonstrates the willingness and ability to comply with the requirements of the Article and other applicable laws. Provides for appeal of denial of initial or renewed permit. Specifies that engaging in the practice of nonconsensual booting or towing without a valid permit is an unfair trade practice.  

    Adds GS 20-219.45, requiring the Division to develop and maintain a searchable statewide database accessible to members of the public. Requires the database to allow members of the public to report suspected noncompliance with the Article, allows searches by vehicle number or license plate to access information pertaining to vehicles towed or booted without the owner or operator’s consent, and allows for nonconsensual towing businesses to log in and to input information required information within six hours of nonconsensually towing or booting a vehicle. Sets out information that a nonconsensual towing business must put into the database within six hours of booting or towing.

    Provides for required posting and display of signage for nonconsensual towing at parking lot entrances or areas where parking prohibitions apply in new GS 20-219.50 Prohibits a vehicle from being booted or nonconsensually towed on private property that does not have signs posted at the tie of the booting or towing and at least 24 hours prior. Violations of the statute constitute an infraction subject to a penalty of up to $100. Permits courts to order restitution to the owner of nonconensually towed or booted vehicle. Excludes owners of private residential property that consists of four or fewer residents from GS 20-219.50. 

    Adds new GS 20-219.55, listing towing and booting practices, including (1) that any vehicle removed removed from a parking lot or area on private property cannot be transported for storage more than 25 miles from the place of removal, unless there is no storage area within 25 miles from the place of removal that is suitably sized to store the motor vehicle; (2) barring occupied vehicles from being booted; (3) prohibiting nonconsensual towing businesses from impeding or blocking occupied vehicles not yet booted that are attempting to leave the parking lot; and (4) notice requirements for booting. Specifies that violations of GS 20-219.55 is an unfair trade practice. 

    Adds new GS 20-219.60, providing for nonconsensual towing fees (fees). Requires fees to be reasonable. Prevents a nonconsensual towing business from charging storage fees for: (1) personal property essential to the activities of daily living or cargo contained in a trailer or semitrailer, (2) days when the business is not open from at least 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Requires the business to wait one business day since the towed vehicle could first be recovered before charging a storage fee, unless it is open 24 hours per day. Requires a nonconsensual towing business to accept credit cards, debit cards and cash. Provides for a limit on payment processing fees. Specifies that charging a fee in violation of GS 20-219.60 is an unfair and deceptive trade practice. 

    Establishes an eight-member Towing and Recovery Commission (Commission) to annually establish the maximum fees that a nonconsensual towing business may charge for booting, towing, storage, and handing of personal property. Specifies membership requirements and appointing authorities. Provides for two-year terms commencing on January 1, 2025. Bars members from receiving compensation but specifies that they are entitled to be paid necessary subsistence and travel expenses. Authorizes the chair of the Commission to appoint another person with the same qualifications if a vacancy occurs in the membership of the Commission. 

    Authorizes the Division to adopt rules to implement the article. 

    Makes conforming change to GS 20-219.20 (concerning the requirement to give notice of vehicle towing) to account for new Article 7C. 

    Effective July 1, 2024, appropriates $500,000 from the Highway Fund to the Division in nonrecurring funds for the 2024-2025 fiscal year to be used to implement the act. 

    Effective December 1, 2024, and applies to activities occurring on or after that date.