Law Accidentally Boosts Tow Rates

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Notifications Causes Unexpected Headaches


BALTIMORE, MD  – A new starte law in Maryland has led to some elevated towing rates for some customers in Montgomery County.  In some cases the unintended consequence has led to a 30% rate increase.

Among other things, the new law stipulates that towing outfits must contact in writing the owner of any towed vehicle and their insurance company within three days.  Some shops in Montgomery County, just west of Baltimore, are charging customers for processing that requirement.  

Some customers were charged an additional $61 for the notification, with an average tow in the area increasing from roughly $160 to $220.

Ironically the measure was first enacted to curb predatory towing practices elsewhere in the state.  Under the law, shops are allowed to recoup the cost of notification. It was unanticipated that some shop owners would charge such a highly-inflated processing fee as a result.

“It’s clearly a case of collateral damage and unintended consequences,” said Eric Friedman, director of the county Office of Consumer Protection.

Friedman estimates as many as 30,000 vehicles gets towed each year in Mongomery County, making it a $4.5 million annual industry.

State legislators are exploring the possibility of amending the law, or allowing an exemption for certain counties.


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