Towing Lien Public Process
Sunday, November 26, 2023
by: Matt Musgrave

Section: Legislative Update




tow sign
During the 2023 legislative session towing companies and their association lobbied to include a provision in the DMV Bill that would increase their legal ability to create a lien and take possession of a clients vehicle including its contents which may be owned by a third party. The motivation to create such a law is that towing companies are having difficulties collecting fees for personal use abandoned vehicles but did cite some challenges with business entities. While seemingly logical many took issue with the law during testimony at the House Transportation committee including Vermont Truck and Bus Association, AGC/VT, and several private firms. Instead of passing the law, they created a study group and public input process to be directed by the Office of the Attorney General. 

Through the summer the Deputy Attorney General in charge of the study group reached out to many of those who attended the legislative process and a wider scope for written comment. AGC/VT filed a letter in opposition to the law and included a study by the nation Public Interest Research Group that showed that Vermont was among several states with zero or close to zero regulations for the towing industry. The letter also pointed out that the business relationship for the tow whether it be a rare collision or break down is between the owner/operator of the disabled vehicle and towing agency which gives a third party such as a contractors piece of equipment no control over any disputes in price or process. AGC/VT's comments included that if any right to lien would be created it must come with the trade off of supervision through license or other means to ensure that Vermonts citizens and businesses can be protected from unlawful or predatory behaviors. 

Before writing the report to be filed at the legislature the AGs office held a public comment period that all who submitted written comments were invited to. Although there were differences with positions regarding liens and regulations it was clear that every party agreed that towing companies should be compensated fairly. Once the study is presented at the legislature it will be considered for a bill or ammendment to a bill. The current filing deadline for bills for both the House and Senate is December 1st so its unlikely that the study would create a bill, unless one has already been considered apart of the study results. The AGC/VT lobbying team will be following any developments on the bill.