Laws passed to outlaw dodgy tow truck operators

After years of being ripped off, RACQ has hailed the passing of legislation to outlaw towing industry sharks as a win for Queensland drivers.

Car being towed by tow truck

The laws, which meant it would be illegal for dodgy tow truck operators to strongarm motorists into paying exorbitant fees to release their vehicles, were passed by Queensland Parliament on Thursday.

RELATED: Tow truck operators lassoed by new laws.

This followed an independent investigation into the removal of parked vehicles from private car parks, and meant changes to tow truck licence requirements, fees, signage, privacy, education and enforcement.

RACQ Head of Technical and Safety Policy Steve Spalding said RACQ tow trucks, which did not conduct unauthorised tows from private property, had long supported the need for higher standards of safety and conduct.

“Dodgy tow truck operators have been getting away with highway robbery for far too long, charging exorbitant fees for the release of vehicles from carparks,” Mr Spalding said.

“We’re really pleased the State Government has acted and passed these laws because it sets the standard of behaviour for tow truck operators who’ve been capitalising on vulnerable motorists for far too long.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said Queensland would be the first State in the country to cap towing fees from private car parks.

“We are also increasing the maximum penalty that can be imposed under the Tow Truck Regulation from $2,523 to $10,092,” Mr Bailey said.

“The proposed legislation will also make it clear that we can consider a person’s entire criminal history when assessing whether they should be granted a licence or certificate.”

Mr Bailey said the changes would commence in April to allow time for stakeholders to comply and would:

  • require that 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
  • require tow truck licensees to have towing consent evidencing an arrangement with the occupier to remove vehicles from the property and to notify the Queensland Police Service as soon as practicable after removing a vehicle from private property
  • impose 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
  • provide that 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.

Motorists could find more information on the investigation and legislation changes here.