Houston Tow Truck Drivers Are Totally Above the Law

Categories: Whatever

towtruckmaterfdsj.jpg
Mater makes his own rules.
Tow truck drivers in Houston can break into your car in order to tow it -- against state regulations -- and here's why: Law enforcement ain't gonna stop 'em.

We learned this by following up on an e-mail from a guy who says he watched a driver for Fast Tow jimmy the locks on an SUV in order to get inside and secure the vehicle for towing. (The truck was parked on a portion of the road that, at that time of night, was a no-parking zone). It made us wonder: Is this legal? Should be a fairly simple thing to find out, no? Boy, were we wrong.

towtruckleggo.jpg
If no one enforces, no one's getting in trouble
Motor carriers in Texas are regulated by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation; last December, the department's general counsel e-mailed the industry members on its listserve to say the following: "Tow operators are not authorized to make entry into a motor vehicle for purposes of towing the vehicle under the non-consent tow provisions of Occupations Code 2308. Use of a 'slim jim' or other device is not authorized under the towing statute or rules."

But in Houston, Fast Tow owner Jeanette Rash trains her 27 drivers to straighten a vehicle's steering mechanism before they tow it, and she points to a federal statute she says gives her drivers carte blanche to get into your car by any means necessary.

Specifically, Rash cites a paragraph in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's towing regulations that states: "Unless the steering mechanism is adequately locked in a straight forward position, all motor vehicles towed by means of a saddle-mount shall be towed with the front end mounted on the towing vehicle." (The Administration operates under the U.S. Department of Transportation).

"In order for you to do that [lock the steering mechanism], you've got to open the vehicle to make sure that the steering wheel is locked and in place," Rash said.

And that's what gives Fast Tow the right to get into your locked vehicle for towing purposes in Houston. (Rash also told us that federal statutes allow her tow truck drivers to get into your locked car to secure any valuable property. She did not cite any city or county towing ordinances.)

But a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration spokesman told Hair Balls that the statute she was citing only applied to federally regulated motor carriers and had nothing to do with the kind of towing at issue.

"That doesn't give you license to break into the car," he told us. "In an emergency, I could see that, but you know...for somebody's expired meter, that doesn't give you license to break into a car."

When we mentioned this to Rash, she told us that the person we spoke with must not understand the law.



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176 comments
pat.johnson
pat.johnson

Wrecker drivers who unlock vehicles without the consent of the vehicle owner will be arrested in San Antonio and Austin for this conduct.  Incidentally, Rash's company was fined $2400 recently for failing to secure a vehicle at their vehicle storage facility.

easy454
easy454

I remember when etag wreckers in Houston were a respected group, I ran etags in the 70s and 80s I hear that it"s adifferent game now

abm12077
abm12077

People need to start shooting tow truck drivers and shit want happen

OFC-Schmidt
OFC-Schmidt

truck drivers will always have job security in that their job is one that can never be outsourced to some other country. Someone will always have to deliver food and products to stores and supplies to companies otherwise the economy would just stop.

freeway insurance houston tx
freeway insurance houston tx

Here give a good post. Most important medical health insurance is a risk of medical costs, especially sharp insurance protection. The insurance company estimates the risk of individual target grouping to determine a basic financial structure of the set rate, and allowed to charge monthly premiums for payroll taxes.

Progrock6string
Progrock6string

I agree that they push the law. I see these guys making U-turns over mediums with flowers, shrubs? etc. to go answer a "call".

I view tow truck drivers as bottom feeding scum who stretch the law to make an extra 50 cents and seem to be able to get away with it.

Isn't it interesting how the Houston law seems to look the other way and give them access, or soo it seems?

Classytrends2004
Classytrends2004

even on the road they are bullying other cars around them and on their way. I really don't know where to file my complaint. We got almost bumped by this irresponsible wrecker while we were cruising along Eldridge (on inner lane) near Beechnut at around 12:20 noon-time, Sunday August 7, 2011. The wrecker forcefully banged into my lane without any signalling (horns or lights) and no emergency. We can feel the force inside our car, his engine sound and the air wave it has created really swayed my car scaring my passengers. We were lucky I was able to sense what is he going to do, I was able to step on my brake. Seconds later I saw the wrecker going in the other direction (west) before I turned left (east). Is this the kind of people who were entrusted to rescue people in distress? Very unprofessional. The number is T20 76F. I just hope the owner would not tolerate it.    

Classytrends2004
Classytrends2004

even on the road they are bullying other cars around them and on their way. I really don't know where to file my complaint. We got almost bumped by this irresponsible wrecker while we were ialong Eldridge near Beechnut at around 12:20 noon time August 7, 2011. The wrecker forcefully banged into my lane without any signalling (horns or lights). We can feel the force inside our car, his engine sound and the air wave it has created really swayed my car scaring my passengers. is this the kind of people who were entrusted to rescue? The number is T20 76F.

Rebel
Rebel

Like the rgeulations say,Obtain the vin "if" posable.do I have to give you the section too.

Rebel Csa
Rebel Csa

Ms. Jeanette Rush is not regulated by the federal goverment,She and her towing co. as well as everyone else towing for hire it Texas, are regulated bt TDLR. shame on you Ms. Rush you know better than that,But obeying the law would cut in to your profit margin, right.

Rebel Csa
Rebel Csa

you are right,about repo's.But we ant talking about repo's,we are talking about the bottom feeding tow truck drivers, that pray on the old and ignort drivers.I've owened my own tow truck several year's ago, and I've cept up with the laws conserning towing and VSF. So I do know what I talking about.You seam to know the law too,but repo's and towing from a parking lot are two differnt thing's.So when you spek, let's talk apples and apple's, not apples and oranges. 

paintnext
paintnext

I've ask the same question to every body I could think of(TDLR) Local Police, DPS, no one has the balls to enforce the law,.Tow truck drivers, remember one thing, after dark I can protect my proptey with DEADLY FORCE. try and take my vehicle,seen the sign Beware of Dog, forget it, BEWARE OF OWNER

Brian
Brian

Towing should be a public service tied directly to the police department rather than being a business obtusely controlled by ex con's and people who couldn't make it as carnival folk?  I'm all for people parking where they belong but enforcement and fining should be left to the city alone and not private contractors.  I've never been towed but I am sick of seeing tow trucks rush down city streets at 60+ mph for a big score.

Curtisbud
Curtisbud

Manypeople often recommend that it is best for you to buy a medium duty Tow Truckrather than heavy duty tow trucks if you are just starting out new business. Somesay that since you are already investing in the business then why not get themost for your money and get the bigger and better truck.

propertyowner
propertyowner

Bottom line, Park where you belong!  Don't leave a vehicle at a business once you leave their establishment.  You can avoid the tow truck if you respect a persons or a businesses private property.  Stop trying to cry about all your wrong doings and respect others property rights and no one will slim jim your junk!

Mcastor_23
Mcastor_23

WOW.....is all I can say. If you people would read the laws you would know we are regulated out the A**........To run a wrecker in the city not only do we have to pass a background check from the state but the city toooooo...So get it right people. If you are mad because you were stupid and parked in the wrong spot . not our fault. I will not say that everyone in our business is on the up and up but We are trying to be. There are bad people in ever business. Cops go to jail everyday for dumb crap and so do doctors, lawyers ...city council...........get a life people. we are just doing our job. You LOVE US WHEN YOU NEED US BUT HATE US WHEN YOU R STUPID. And as far as the unlocking the car.....we have to unlock it to secure the car. I so SICK of people talking crap about us when TOW Operators DIE everyday on the highway trying to save lives... Bet you love us when its 110 degrees outside and you and your child are broke down on the highway.....To come get you from that highway we a risking our LIVES.......So get off you high horse and let us do our jobs....TDLR and the city has so many laws on us we cant breath,,,if you dont like the price of the tow or storage get off your ass and go to the city and tell someone but to let you know we are cheaper than anyone around .....145.50 in city of houston 250.00 in montgomery county soooooo feel lucky

Tabithaparr
Tabithaparr

So just wondering where at exactly in the occupational code 2308 does it say this info I have searched several times and can't find it please elaborate on the chapter and section! Thanks

Steve Crisp
Steve Crisp

i think i will have CLINT type my next comment cuz can spell much better then i... good job clint!!!!

No I don't speak Spanish
No I don't speak Spanish

My buddy has 14 hooks on the streets of Houston 24/7. The cops get Christmas cash,booze, a whole bunch of free meals, fishing trips etc. They even have the wrecker drivers sometimes apprehend suspects, if they're tied up with another suspect. I've seen cops come to the shop with a damaged police car and us pound out a dent and spray some paint, so at shift change they don't have to tell their sargent. Why don't I blow the wistle because I'm making a fortune too. so pay up suckers or we keep your car.

jeremy
jeremy

We have a serious problem with "wild west" mentality tow truck drivers in this town. I cant tell you how many times ive been bullied in traffic by tow trucks. The way that they all race to a wreck because of how the tower is chosen is a severe problem.  So many of them think they are part of the police force.

Steve Crisp
Steve Crisp

good job!..you got a lic.plate number!!..should have called the police right then!.. but if you want to report that wrecker driver!..you can contact AUTO DEALERS DIV.HOUSTON POLICE DEPT!..give them the info! they can track the towing company with that tag# you have!..but please be fair and not just report wrecker driver's! report all bad driver's!!..people want to hold wrecker/towing company's to a higher standard!..when we meet that standard we still get little or no respect!..but a lot of us still keep trying!..please see some of my other comment's!..the crook's/bad towing company's wont last!..

Steve Crisp
Steve Crisp

HPD TOW LINE,HARRIS COUNTY TOW LINE,EVERY POLICE TOW LINE SAY'S OBTAIN!!..................... ((A ...V I N #..TO LOG IT IN THE COMPUTER))

Steve Crisp
Steve Crisp

MR. I'VE OWNED MY OWN TOW TRUCK YEARS AGO!!! what did you dooo when youuu  had toooo get a VIN# from a vehicle that was locked, and theVIN# was blocked from view by oooooo let's say an old valet stub,,,dust,,drit,,dead bug,,sun screen,,insp.sticker,,a penny,,a dash pad,,a map,,a tooth pick??? i know i went a little overboard here!! sorry!!.. i just get a little ticked!! when someone in or once in the towing ind. make's.. a... less then smart comment!! please read some of my other post!! think you will see that i give everyone respect!!  i try an be fair and honest when i respond to a comment!! .. please be fair when you post a comment!!

Clint Hudnall
Clint Hudnall

You are correct TO A DEGREE. Also the only reason a wrecker would have the reason to come to your house (assuming you are in a house and not an apartment) to get your car is if it is up for repo. If they are good at their job, you would not know they were there til morning. If you did manage to catch them in the act, once they show the paperwork proving it is a repo, you no longer have the right to "defend your property" since technically it is the lien holders property. The shoot first ask questions later will only get you behind bars.

Quoted law:"A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect his property to the degree he reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to prevent the other's imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, theft during the nighttime or criminal mischief during the nighttime, and he reasonably believes that the property cannot be protected by any other means."  "A person is justified in using deadly force against another to pervent the other who is fleeing after committing burglary, robbery, or theft during the nighttime, from escaping with the property and he reasonable believes that the property cannot be recovered by any other means; or, the use of force other than deadly force to protect or recover the property would expose him or another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury. (Nighttime is defined as the period 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise.)"

Steve Crisp
Steve Crisp

a shot in the dark!! (fine point of the law sir) after you shoot someone!! what happens next? a day or two in court!!.. you might be looking at a murder charge!! (if your a good shot) if your not that good of a shot?.. ie.. that person is not dead!!.. .you may have just gave the very property you was trying to protect to the person you shot in the dark!!!!.. also a person being shot at!! has a right to protect themself !! WITH DEADLY FORCE!! the only ones who really win in this case are the (lawyers)                                                                good luck sir !! (and happy hunting)

Clint Hudnall
Clint Hudnall

Not every driver out there is an ex-con and me personally would not try to be a carni. Not my cup of tea.

While some of the enforcement is done by wrecker companies (private properties) the rest is by the police (illegal parking, prisoners, some accidents and a few others.) As far as the fees, the wrecker service or storage lot have NO control of the fees you are charged. That is determined by the city/county/state, depending on where your vehicle was towed/stored. The only way a wrecker has control over the price is on an owners consent, which is when the vehicle owner/operator calls the wrecker for assistance. If you do not like the REGULATED fees, take it up with city council or a state representative.

Could have sworn this has been stated AT LEAST once before? oh well, repetition will have to work to get the point across.

Rebel
Rebel

What about the code do you what to know it goes from 2308.001 to 2308.505.

Steve Crisp
Steve Crisp

parasite=.... websters dictionary,, a person who lives at anothers expense without paying that person back in any way!!....food chain!!...we aswell as you!! hold a place on the food chain!!!!! (bottom feeders) (consumers) (supply,demand)bad or unlucky drivers supply the vehicles!! wrecks,,parking violations,,repo,, mech.failure,,whatever!! police,,banks,,property owners demand they be towed!.... when you need a tow!!...you can use the bottom feeder already there!! or you can call your very own bottom feeder!! good luck and happy motoring

easy454
easy454

@No I don't speak Spanish finally the right comment I"ve been waiting for. I drive a rig now but I used to run etags in the 70s and 80s when a etag wrecker had clout !

abm12077
abm12077

How about you give me your number we can meet you won't pull this crap anymore

abm12077
abm12077

And I'll kill your fucking family piece of shit

Steve Crisp
Steve Crisp

wow i want to work with you!! sounds like u and you buddy got it going on!! notice you dont have any link to you here.. i think this is a hit an run comment!! 1st if you and buddy? had it going on like that?? and you are making mad money!! u would not risk a comment like that?? unless you are a total dummy!! 2 crooks will be caugth sooner or later!! if this true what u are saying..cops in on it.. you just f..ked yourself big time..lol hahaha dummy you had to give some info to post that comment!! that can be used to track you!!!!! hahahahahha now you have wrecker driver's cops and and ALL THE PEOPLE WHO HATE WRECKERS,,COPS,,, CROOKS LOOKING FOR YOU!!!! oops... as i said crook wreckers,,cops will get caught sooner or later,, in this case looking like sooner!!! wow..... PAY UP SUCKER!!!

Clint Hudnall
Clint Hudnall

Wow! seriously? Let me guess, you work in southwest? Idiots like this guy are they prime example the industry has the reputation it has. THANKS! dumb-@$$.

Evan
Evan

Exactly! If they are going to have the authority of a police force, then they should be subject to the same controls. 

Rebel
Rebel

Towing in Texas is regulated by TDLR, and it states no city, county can make a law or regulation that conterdicks this chapter.So I don't know what to tell you, other than I'd have to go with the one who regulates me.I'd let TDLR fight that out with the city, or county, only they can answer that one.Wish I could help you more.

Fatty FatBastard
Fatty FatBastard

Crisp's comments are exactly why new legislation is needed.  He sees no difference between a vehicle parked on a street and one bringing chaos to thousands on a freeway.  This is why legislation is always needed:  Morons.

Rebel
Rebel

Like the rgeulations say,Obtain the vin "if" posable.

abm12077
abm12077

That's why I kill the fucking cops 2

abm12077
abm12077

@Steve Crisp they should shoot wife and kids to :)

Katy
Katy

Seriously, man:Responding to EVERY SINGLE COMMENT = bad form.

Netiquette 101. You don't have to thank me.

Steve Crisp
Steve Crisp

evan,, jeremy.. we tow trucks dont have any police authority!!! however we do have police radios in our vehicles!!.. often police,, will tell us on the radio to preform a task, like stop that lane of traffic,, hold onto that person,,follow that vehicle,cut across the grass, often its a wrecker and a cop working to get something done!!! the traffic cams you see on the news are linked to the police!!! when the police see a traffic hazard on a camera,, often they will dispatch a wrecker and a police officer at the sametime in order to get somebody on scene fast!!!.. if its a vehicle blocking traffic they well often tell us via radio to hook up and ((move that vehicle out of harms way!!!)) if you refuse to let us hook up the vehicle!! we cant till an officer shows up no scene!!! if you and jeremy are driving by a scene and a police officer tell you to push that vehicle off the road,, and you dont,, you could go to jail !! so often a wrecker is acting on orders from a police officer not yet on scene!!! we work with police and fire departments to clear the road fast, so you and jeremy dont have to,, and so you guys can get to the club on time..lol..

Steve Crisp
Steve Crisp

kathy.. your surely know what it's like trying to talk to someone who's mind is set on hate!! yes! hell yes!! some wrecker driver's/owner's are crook's THE CROOK'S WONT LAST!!.. parking enforcement is a part of life in a big city!!..maybe you was not trying to cheat on the parking lot rule's.. i dont like paying to valet park!. i do like parking in front of where i am going to be!. i like being able to see my vehicle! i dont like parking two block's away!!. my job kinda suck's. but it's a part of what i do!. if tow truck's did not tow parking violators! in big city's! most everyone would have to park on the street,two block's away!!. you seem like a nice lady!. i took a look at your blog,link. so you know what it's like to deal with the hate!!.. hope you have better luck with your point!.. then i am with mine!..thank's

Katy
Katy

It is clear that you are becoming very frustrated by folks not willing to accept your justification for your chosen profession. It is also clear that you have justified in your own mind everything that tow truck drivers do.  This is not uncommon for people who earn money in ways that really cannot be justified. Regardless of how you manage to sleep at night, however, the fact remains that much of what the average person sees tow truck drivers doing amounts to legalized vulturing. Ambulance-chasing lawyers look like philanthropists in comparison. Your argument that much of it is legal is not a convincing argument for making money this way. Period. Too many people have had the experience of parking in an empty parking lot, going in to pick up dry cleaning or something only to discover that their car has (legally) broken into and unnecessarily towed because they had inadvertently parked in a Starbucks spot instead of the dry cleaner’s spot. So you have now been responding to EVERY comment on this thread for nearly a month, and have not convinced anyone. And that’s not your fault: Your trying to defend the indefensible.

Steve Crisp
Steve Crisp

one more time for those in the back row!! reguardless of what law's are passed!! while towing! any type of vehicle! at some point we((may need)) to enter the vehicle!! sure wish i could make you undrestand this point!!.. safety..vin#'s.. ((some vehicle's)) the steering lock's,some dont!...(equipment).. flatbed,dollie's,gojack's,plastic slider's, are used to tow/haul vehicle's on a nonconsent tow! next thing needed is an invoice for the tow! on that invoice must be a vin#..if that vin# is blocked from view,we must enter the vehicle!.. i know what your thinking..dont tow it,right? see how far that will get in the real world! everyone could block the vin# and the could not be towed on a nonconsent tow,sounding kinda good to you? most every city in the world has some form of parking enforcement!!..after due process! a vehicle will need to be removed!.. if not you would not be able to park/drive in large city's.. lobby for all the law's you like/not like on towing,storage! the need to enter/tow vehicle's,will remain the same!! you think you was over charged/item's stolen/unfairly towed? law's on the book's already to protect you from crook's!! thank you for your time!!

Katy
Katy

Hmm... These comment sections ARE the very picture of rudeness and bad form.

I'll give you that. Point goes to Steve...

Steve Crisp
Steve Crisp

kinda thinking thats what this site is about!!.. lol..just another thing i did wrong!!... sorry!

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