Missouri House panel to discuss towing reforms

April 2, 2024

Keith Goble


Predatory towing practices are the topic of a Missouri bill that is scheduled to be considered this week at the statehouse. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association encourages members to share their support for the bill with members of the House Transportation Committee.

House Bill 2214

Missouri law does not allow trucking operators who believe they were overcharged for a nonconsensual tow to file a complaint.

A bill in the House Transportation Committee would change the rule. Specifically, HB2214 would permit truck drivers to file a complaint if they believe they were overcharged for a nonconsensual tow.

Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City, is behind the bill that is intended to help truck operations of all sizes address the issue.

Another provision in the bill would permit truck drivers to retrieve their equipment, personal goods or other commodities while the tow bill is being processed.

Doug Morris, OOIDA director of state government affairs, said that all too often, predatory towers hold contents of a truck or trailer hostage until a full tow bill is paid.

Owners of goods transported in affected trucks also would be permitted to file a petition in circuit court asserting that the property was unjustly taken or withheld. The amount required for release of a commercial vehicle from possession of a towing company would be 30% of the charges for towing and storage.

Morris said the Association welcomes the legislation, which would help ensure individuals do not get taken advantage of with burdensome or unreasonable charges for vehicles being towed when there is otherwise no recourse available.

HB2214 is scheduled for a Wednesday, April 3 committee hearing. OOIDA has issued a Call to Action encouraging Missouri members to submit testimony for the bill.

Governor has turned back previous towing reform efforts

Recent related pursuits have a track record of winning support at the statehouse only to be met with resistance once reaching Gov. Mike Parson’s desk.

A 2021 bill sought to provide additional consumer protections for truck drivers facing unscrupulous tow operators.

In his veto letter, Parson said one section of the bill would have allowed the Joint Committee on Transportation to regulate towing rates, investigate towing complaints and establish for law enforcement a towing rotation for commercial vehicles.

Parson described the proposal as “legally problematic.”

“As a practical matter, the committee cannot legally function as this proposal suggests,” the letter stated.

In 2019, Parson vetoed a bill that included a provision to address concerns about nonconsensual towing in the state by creating a towing task force.

The governor said at the time that the state had “adequate protections” to address towing matters.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh has questioned why the governor has been unwilling to correct problems with existing tow rules.

“We have scratched our heads each time Gov. Parson has vetoed this very reasonable legislation that would correct a serious problem in consumer protection,” Pugh said. LL

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