TOW truck operators will no longer be able rip off stranded drivers in Queensland with strict new laws cracking down on crooked companies coming into effect in the sunshine state.
From today, towies will be limited to a $250 capped fee for towing a vehicle from a private property and will only be able to charge a maximum $25 a day for yard storage.
The new legislation also prohibits tow truck drivers from using intimidating, abusive or insulting behaviour and stops operators from charging hefty call-out and administration fees.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
The tough new legislation comes from recommendations made by the independent investigation into the removal of parked vehicles from private car parks.
Operators who break the rules will face new maximum fines of up to $10,092 and be hit with 80 penalty points – an increase from $2523 and 20 penalty points.
Towies will also be required to take all reasonable steps to find the owner of any vehicle they tow before loading it onto the back of a truck.
The entire criminal history of an applicant, including any charge for an offence that has not been dealt with by a court or has otherwise been withdrawn or discontinued, will also be reviewed.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said District Court Judge Michael Forde delivered more than 20 recommendations to overhaul the towing industry.
“Mr Forde delivered 22 recommendations to overhaul the industry including changes to licence requirements, fees, signage, privacy, education and enforcement,” Mr Bailey said.
“The introduction of these new laws delivers on our commitment to put an end to rogue towing operations, leading the way in implementing harsher penalties for dodgy tow truck operators.
“From today the maximum towing charge for a tow from private property is $250 and the maximum price that can be charged for on-site release of the vehicle is $150.”
Mr Bailey said the Palaszczuk Government had also taken steps to educate the community on how to protect themselves from dodgy operators.
“Information is now available on the Transport and Main Roads website to assist Queenslanders understand the changes,” he said.
“Signage guidelines and fact sheets for towing operators and drivers, motorists and property owners are all available.
“I encourage all Queensland motorists to visit my department’s website and read these materials to ensure you are protected against dodgy tow truck operators.
“Tow truck operators should also take a close look to make sure they are doing the right thing.
“I am confident this legislation appropriately balances the rights of private property owners and occupiers and the rights of motorists, while ensuring towing practices are fair and reasonable.”
The changes coming into effect from today include:
- private property towing may only be performed in regulated areas by drivers and assistants who have the necessary certificates and are using licensed tow trucks;
- tow truck licensees must have towing consent evidencing an arrangement with the occupier to remove vehicles from the property and to notify the police as soon as practicable after removing a vehicle from private property;
- conduct requirements on tow truck licensees, drivers and assistants including prohibiting intimidating, abusive or insulting behaviour, and requiring reasonable steps be taken to locate the motorist before loading a vehicle onto the tow truck;
- vehicles removed from private property may only be taken by the most direct route to the licence holder’s nearest holding yard;
- set maximum towing charges for a standard private property tow ($250), the on-site release of a vehicle ($150) and storing a vehicle ($25) and prohibiting the charging of call-out fees and charges for separate activities incidental to the towing service such as administration fees;
- safeguard motorists’ privacy by restricting the disclosure of information about the removal of a vehicle from private property and expressly protecting personal information about a vehicle’s owner, driver or other party connected to a regulated towing service;
- increase the maximum penalty that may be imposed under the Tow Truck Regulation from 20 penalty units ($2523) to 80 penalty units ($10,092), and;
- allow the entire criminal history of an applicant, including any charge for an offence that has not been dealt with by a court or withdrawn or otherwise discontinued, may be considered when determining whether to grant a licence or certificate and whether a person is an appropriate person to continue to hold a licence or certificate.
For more information on the investigation and legislation changes, click here.