Illegal towing has club patrons upset

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A towing ordinance that was approved five years ago by Metro Government still isn’t being followed by local towing companies, and this has local club owners and patrons very concerned.

Reports of illegal towing, of tow trucks cruising for cars they can easily tow, of exorbitant towing fees, and of gay-specific verbal abuse have been reported to club owners by their patrons.

In April 2003 O&AN reported that Action Towing was taken to court by the City of Berry Hill for violating parts of the ordinance involving cars parked around The Chute on Franklin Road. That case was eventually bound over to the Grand Jury, with charges of extortion and auto theft for illegally towing vehicles.

“People need to understand and know their rights,” said Todd Roman, co-owner of Play Dance Club. “We’ve had many patrons where the tow truck operators will tow their vehicle from a legal space, and drop it a block away and wait for the vehicle owner to return. They will then charge them a high fee to get the vehicle back.”

By law, tow companies can only charge as much as $65. If the car owner catches the tow truck operator before he or she leaves, then the operator must unhook the car from the tow truck for only $25. Additionally, the operator can only tow the car directly to an impound lot, as he or she is not allowed to store it at any another location.

Some other parts of the law include:

The towing company must notify Metro Police that they have towed the car within one hour.

There is a maximum storage fee of $10 per day after two hours; the company can’t charge the car owner for a second day until after 26 hours has elapsed.

Companies can’t "cruise" for cars – they must be called by owner of the property at which the vehicle is parked illegally.

“If a vehicle is towed from private property, state law requires the owner of the private property to sign a ticket, which must be given to the towed-vehicle owner,” Roman said. “A Metro Police Officer must authorize the towing of a vehicle from a public street.”

Drivers are reminded to park in a legal area, not blocking traffic or obstructing vision of oncoming traffic, and in a sectioned and clearly designated parking area.

To view the complete ordinance, go to www.nashville.gov/mc/ordinances/prev/bl2000_247.htm.