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Tow Trucks being Seized In New York City "from 2004"


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Topic posted on Tow411 3/2/2004 by Freds Towing NJ:


Tow Trucks Being Seized in New York City

According to the Metropolitan New York Towing and Auto Body Association, the current administration at the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (the agency that licenses tow trucks in the city) has taken the position that any tow truck operating on the streets of New York City must possess a city towing license (medallion). Failure to have this medallion will result in your tow truck being seized. The DCA has also elected to disregard reciprocity agreements that have been in place for years with neighboring municipalities, where each municipality honored each other's license.

Today, if a towing company based outside New York City sends a tow truck (or flatbed) into the city to drop off or pick up a vehicle, the tow truck will be seized if it does not carry a medallion. A violation will be issued and a hearing date will be scheduled. The minimum fine for settling this violation is $1,000 plus towing and storage fees averaging between $250 and $350.

New York City defines towing as: “The driving or other operation of a tow truck, or the offering to transport a vehicle by means of a tow truck.” A car does not have to be on a hook for it to considered towing. Under New York City law, even if a tower drives his truck into the city for the purpose of having lunch at a specific restaurant, that is considered towing.

A question recently posed to the city’s administration was: “A towing company based outside New York City is merely passing through the city in order to reach a destination outside the city. Is it permissible o travel through New York City without a medallion? An answer has yet to be received.

The Metropolitan New York Towing and Auto Body Association (based in New York City) believes the actions of this administration are in violation of federal and state transportation and commerce laws. The towing association is working to get this matter corrected but until this matter is resolved, towers should be aware that they risk getting their trucks seized when entering New York City without a city towing medallion.

Fred Koch,Jr.
Wreckmaster#99805
Traa Ct#8216
Fred's Towing
South River,NJ

 

fredsig.webp

 

Don29Years aka THTDON said:

Over the years, I have gone to New York City to pick up a car for a customer about a half a dozen times. Where the hell does the City of New York get the idea that they can regulate who comes and goes to and from the city? That is absolutely a violation of my ICC rights, as far as I am concerned. Obviously, they can regulate transportation between points within their city. But what right do they have to tell me that I can't drive through the City of New York on I-95, or to pick up someone's car that had been stolen, recovered in NYC, and towed to a local tow company? That is definitely a violation of interstate commerce. And that needs to be stopped immediately. I understand that the same situation exists in Philidelphia. That needs to be stopped immediately too. I am sick of these hacks that think that they are above the law. If their roads were constructed or maintained with any federal money, they can't restrict who travels on them. In New Jersey, trucks are prohibited from operating on the Garden City Parkway. In Boston, there are a number of roads maintained by the M.D.C., including Storrow Drive and Memorial Drive, where truck travel is prohibited. That is fine (if you're driving a car). But no where on any of those roads is there a sign that says "residents only, strangers will be seized". Think about it.

 

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Fredstowingnj said:

I agree Don its getting out of control.Fred Koch,Jr.
Wreckmaster#99805
Traa Ct#8216
Fred's Towing
South River,NJ

 

fredsig.webp

 

TowmasterB said:

I remember a court case a few years back regarding the same situation in another town. I think I read it on the TowTimes site under the legaleze page. In that case, the city lost and could not demand all towers to be licensed in that city. This seems to fall under the same category. We will just have to wait and see how this pans out. If a city in my area tried pulling that stunt, I would be the first one knocking down their door with my lawyer to stop their tirades. This is starting to get ridiculous!

 

Flora Wrecker said:

Thanks for the info Fred! I just handed it to Dad who happens to have a truck or two working in NY right now. This should prove to be interesting.

 

Heffy004 said:

Fred

Thanks for the phone call, earlier today, and this post.

YUP.......NO more trucks into or thru N.Y.C. until this is straightened out.

Really impossible to get out to Long Island, without going thru "Da City".

And, if we purchase the medallion.......... ..........

Will that give us the right to pick up customers vehicles on their "Medallion Required" Expressways.....Like the Cross-Bronx & Major Deegan & Clearview ????

"If I pay for the right.......Then I want the right"...

And, some of the people here know what that problem has always been in N.Y.C.

What a way to raise TAX REVENUE for the city.........and, just on the chance that anyone of us may want to drive thru the city in a non-revenue capacity !!!

There should be some good law-suits coming out of this

Manybe it is just time for me to "Pack up" & hide with Jerry in da hills of Tenn..... ......Or, camp out on the Moose's property in the woods

Cach ya all later & Stay safe

HEFFY

 

Micheal McGovern said:

Some of you may remember the federal lawsuit in Cincinnati in 1992 - 1993 over the identical issue. Tow truck operators from southern Indiana and northern Kentucky were being cited, and their trucks impounded, for not having a City of Cincinnatti "T-Sticker." The Interstate Towing Association (ITA) filed a lawsuit, claiming that the city's tow truck ordinance was an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.

The federal court of appeals held:

"[T]owing services are essentially local in nature, and give rise to legitimate local concerns about safety, consumer protection, and the like. And again, just because Cincinnati, or any other municipality, happens to be located on a state border does not alter this essential character of towing, transforming an otherwise local service into "interstate motor carriage" and rendering the otherwise neutrally applicable provisions of the Ordinance "impermissible burdens" on interstate commerce. Granted, it might be inconvenient for towing services if they had to be licensed in every city from which they wished to tow vehicles, and indeed, some might choose to operate in only a select few; but what contractor has not been frustrated by local building codes, or what developer has not been frustrated by the variability of zoning boards and planning commissions? And while we acknowledge that towing services are not directly comparable to land-use regulation, the local nature of their business is much closer to that of building and construction, or any other regulated business, than to the interstate transportation of goods--despite the fact that towing services conduct their business on wheels. In the final analysis, this sort of regulation--local business regulation that applies to those within the city in precisely the same way as it does to those without--is properly overseen by the local political process, not the Commerce Clause. We therefore hold that the City's regulation of the towing of vehicles from property within the City does not impose an impermissible burden on interstate commerce."

 

Hartland Service said:

Mike, I understand that ruling says towing from within City boundaries, but what if I am just driving through? Or dropping one off from VT? Not the same.

Jeff

 

Chuck said:

guess they forgot about all the Towers that came from all over durring the 911 event. Hard to belive they will get away with this one. Someone needs to with this before all the guys get together from Jersey that are close to the tunnels and bridges and real slow at rush hour could really screw traffic up. good luck guys and be safe out there.

 

Don29Years aka THTDON said:

I don't think that civil disruption will accomplish anything. It will only get the public mad at the industry, and get us all bad press. One of these national towing associations that is competing for our membership dollars should belly up to the bar address this, and soon. Isn't it funny that the city only seems to be seizing tow trucks from out of their city. What about freight trucks, tour buses, and limos. They are all transporting goods and passengers from point A outside the city to point B within the city, or vise-versa, for a fee. And they are all using the roadways to accomplish that. Why is it always the tow trucks?

 

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unknown member said:

fred thanks for the heads up. we made a call today to the metropolitan towing association and were basically told that the department of consumer affairs of new york city was the organazation that is enforcing that ruling. they are not the nypd. they have thier own patrol cars (mostly unmarked). they expect any tow truck loaded or empty to have a nyc dca emblem on it. also they are issueing tickets to the drivers of any tow truck who is not on file with the dca. the mta has posed the question of drive thru or tow trucks passing through the five boroughs on the interstate. no answer was given yet. we were also informed that the empire state towing association, aaa, and a few other organizations are already challenging this ruling.

 

rapidtow said:

one of my trucks got pulled over in city on 2/16/2004 corner of w houston and 2nd street dca give driver a ticket for no hut sticker on a 17990 gvw truck and one for no street address on door , door has company name, town and zip cop told us we needed a medallion if we picked car up on the street but not if we picked up on private prop

 

letsplay2 said:

I am wondering what are the requirements to get the medallion?

I heard about this from Tom many years ago and the main reason why it was being floated around then was because there were so many tower's that didn't have the proper insurance or storage facility. Meaning they were towing without properly insuring the vehicle they were towing and they were storing vehicles at home. Which are against New York Laws.

If someone could check and let us know what the requirements are it would be appreciated.

Devin

 

METALMAN said:

I guess if I need to go to my home town of Staten island I better take one of my Harleys or my Hot rod then my Wrecker aye

 

ibflat2 said:

well my mind is wondering about a few things, I realize that some people have asked about towing THOUGH the city. If I am in Alabama and have to tow a unit to Jeffs Place way up in cold country. Do you think ( ok this is where I know it sounds funny ) that a tower 1000 miles away will know EACH AND EVERY rule, regulation, requirement of each and every city, country, bourgh, township and crossroads that wants to enact a $$$ gaining fee for them.

I understand that on a trip research is important, but if we are licensed, insured, registered with Dot and in compliance with all Federal and Home state regulations, to face tickets and towing of the trucks for not having A CITY License or whatever. That is madding.

Of course the driver will not have the permits or license to tow in that area. Now if you were to call an permiting agency like Transceiver or who ever does truck permiting, do you think that they would know about these rules ??? I think not.

Also if you are a dealer ( yeah Mike ) and are headed to lets say the NYC impound yard to deliver a new unit ( heck it can tow, but is not going to do it ) what would happen.

It is like the joke about the gal reading a book in a row boat on a lake. She gets hassled by game warden for fishing with out license cause she has boat ( the equipment ) and she cries Rape cause he has the equipment.

I am lookin to see what happens, I think there might be some merit to what they are doing , but I think that somewhere down the road there will be a distance exemption. I mean like if a California company was going though or such.

Just my thoughts

 

TowZone said:

Wow, never really thought about the whole picture here. I was only thinking about the towers from surrounding areas. How does this effect tow equipment dealers?

There doesn't seem to be any provisions built in for anything. Doesn't matter if your in tow or not. What if it's a show truck or restored vintage. Many open questions which make this an illegal law I would think. Once the challenges are done hopefully we'll See the city refunding illegal impoundment monies. I realize why they did this, I don't understand why they didn't write it more specific. Our there any towers within NYC that are backing this for some reason?

Here locally we're facing problems associated with no name companies and sneeker systems. Which ones are doing repos and which ones are stealing cars?

Majority do not even have the proper insurance!

 

Fredstowingnj said:

Ron Of Course Some Of the NYC Towers might be behind this.Just think about it they are the only ones that can tow in or out of the city.I was on the DCA's website and the way it looks you can't even get a medallion unless your located in the City or its 5 Boro's.Fred Koch,Jr.
Wreckmaster#99805
Traa Ct#8216
Fred's Towing
South River,NJ

 

fredsig.webp

 

Don29Years aka THTDON said:

Let me give you a couple of illustrations to make my view of this a little more clear. I am located in Lawrence, MA., 28 miles north of Boston. In the normal course of doing business, my equipment has occasion to go to the city of Boston, every day. What if every single town that I have to pass through to get to Boston, while still on I-93, a limited-access, federally funded highway, established a policy like the one in New York? I leave my garage, cross the line from Lawrence into Methuen. I get on I-93 in Methuen and go south. I continue to pass through Andover, Tewksbury, Wilmington, Woburn, Reading, Stoneham, Medford, Cambridge, and Somerville before I get to the Boston city line. I can't imagine the cumbersome red tape that would be involved to keep up with all the individual little quirks that many cities and towns could cook up. This whole scheme flies in the face of the direction that interstate commerce and D.O.T. regulation in general has gone over the past few years. You know what IFTA is, I assume? Before IFTA, we had to purchase fuel tax permits from every state, and display those decals on every truck. Then we had to make out quarterly reports, and pay the tax to the individual states every quarter. With IFTA, you keep track of your mileages, pay the tax to one place, and the tax gets distributed accordingly. One stop shopping. I have ICC authority, and I have had it for years. Years ago, I used to carry a "bingo card" in each truck. On that card, I had a stamp that I purchased from every state that I had the need to drive through. Although, on paper, I have 48 state authority, I only purchased the stamps for the states that I needed. A few years ago, the laws were revised, and they came up with a single state registration form. This form is provided to me by the Massachusetts Department of Telecommumications and Energy (DTE). I check off which states that I want to travel through, multiply that times the number of trucks, and I cut a check to the DTE, and they distribute the fees accordingly. Again, one stop shopping. Having to go to every individual city and town hall, go to the clerk's office, and purchase a permit to travel through their town is the stupidist idea that I have ever heard. And anyone that thinks otherwise is also stupid. Like I said, that is like driving the wrong way down a one way street, against the traffic. Or it is like swimming up-river, against the current. As far as I am concerned, I purchase operating authority to conduct my business in Massachusetts, as well as other states. And each individual city and town is dead wrong to even think about what New York is doing. The only ones to benefit from this dumb idea are the cities and towns that collect the fees. If we have to pay all these fees, we will assess a fee for every town we have to tow through, to the tow bill of every car we tow. In the end, as always, the consumer will get it tucked up his pooper.

 

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Fredstowingnj said:

Exactly Don somehow we have to stop this cancer.

Fred Koch,Jr.
Wreckmaster#99805
Traa Ct#8216
Fred's Towing
South River,NJ

 

fredsig.webp

 

TowZone said:

OK it's been over 24 hours since this has been posted. After nearly 3 years this board has been up and very close to 1000 members. I would expect that we could get an Associations Official Response to this situation. After all this may effect the whole country at some point. A precedence must be set or are we going to depend on other organizations to fight our battles. Maybe that's why membership is so low in towing associations in general. OK, to the TRAA any one heard a position? To the new NTRA has the board discussed this issue? Now I realize I may not be fair in that TRAA is not just fully represented here and NTRA is a newly formed organization. However if this was a union situation in NYC the _ _ _ _ would have hit the FAN last week. Which every association can jump on the most issues that effect this industry in the coming year. Maybe there is more going on behind the scenes then we know, sure would build membership if we did know about it. If it were a national association I would then say we get behind that association and support there efforts. Become members and hold them accountable for the well being of the industry.

Maybe someone can fill us in on the Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association or the Empire State Towing & Recovery Association. I'll post this question in the Associations Forum and await some answers.

Note: I am not pointing any fingers here, only asking the cold hard question.

Who will Step to the Plate?

 

Don29Years aka THTDON said:

Something else that I was thinking about before I got up this morning. I'm sure that you all remember the ITA, Interstate Towing Association. That organization was formed to deal with issues that concerned interstate towing. In order to be a member, you had to have ICC rights. I had belonged to ITA for several years. A few years ago, it was decided that they would merge the ITA with the TRAA. So my message to the TRAA is, take your thumbs out of your butts, walk out the door and down the street to the Department of Transportation, and see if you can get something done about this issue. Some issues bother me, and others don't. I don't care if two gay guys get married or not. I only wonder which guy gets to wear the garter! For some reason, this NYC issue really bothers me. Not so much because I never know when I will have occasion to go to NYC, but because I fear that this foolishness could spread to other places. Again, is it only tow trucks that they're after? What about tractor-trailers hauling a load of oranges from Florida to Boston? Do they have to get a medallion to travel up I-95 through NYC? Or do they have to take a detour around NYC? How about Greyhound buses? I could go on and on. I suspect though, that it is only tow trucks that are getting harrassed.

 

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Unknown Member said:

Just for the sake of being different I will say that I think this is great. Instead of fighting the laws why don’t we learn how to use them to our advantage? Just think about it. Towers that work for AAA could actually start making a living towing for them. By using the buddy system or by registering your individual trucks for different cities we could turn one tow into multiple tows by daisy chaining the tows together. By having one truck registered in cities A & B another in B & C and another in C & D we could get three tows if someone needed to be towed from A to D. If they want to flex their mussels just because they can it is our duty to make them look stupid.

Actually I think a law that said that you had to be registered in a city to pick up a tow could work to our advantage as long as it did not restrict you from driving through and from dropping off. This type of law would make us evaluate our towing area. I would much rather all of my tows start in one of two cities instead of eight. Yes I would have to turn down tows in cities that I am not registered in but towers not registered in my city would have to turn down tows too. This would improve our response time, reduce our driving range and make us more efficient. If everyone did this then we could concentrate our advertising for direct customers to just our pick up area. If I got a call from someone outside my pick up area then I would have no problem transferring them to another towing company that clearly was not my competitor. This would help create more harmony in this industry and a willingness to work together. By having restricted pick up areas it would give us a better bargaining position with the motor clubs. They would be forced to use a registered tower. When their primary cheeeeeeeeeap guy was busy they would be restricted by local regulations from calling someone in from another area.

OOPs sorry I acted so stupid.

If the local police is chasing a car and it crosses into the next city do they stop?

Since city borders and streets are irregular in shape we often find ourselves driving in and out of cities and back in again just by driving down the street. This could get interesting. Will this create no Tow Zones.

 

Ok here goes a little past experience and some updates about Ohio. Years ago the city canton which is the next city over to the east came up with this Idea. The law director in our city wrote a nice letter questioning how they could regulate a company from outside of their city. So for quite a few years all of our trucks carried the reply letter in the glove box. Canton's law director stated that the trucks from outside the city were not subject to the license. So talk to the law director of your town and see if he/she will not send a letter. As far as Ohio all of us tower's fall under PUCO regulation with a law on the books that states basically no other entity can regulate a towing company.

The only way the can license is through the safety clause in the federal law. So all you NY tower's need to get with the state association and have them start working on this.


Good Luck,
Mike

P.S. I really enjoy reading Mr. McGovern's letters in tow times. Very Informative of what's going on out there. I'm glad to see he is on the board.

 

Trucker Jeff said:

I am with don it needs to stop.here is one other thing also what about the auction haulers that run 2 car and 4 car trucks over from bordentown nj into the city .I used to run up into the city with a rollback to crab cars for our 10 car rig as it was easier going door to door with a r/b .No more we will just not go in there till this gets worked out . Had the same problem in nj over rying to extort sales tax from interstate car haulers don't know what happened because we won't go there anymore.So now they lost out on my fuel tax,road tax etc.

 

hpgtowing said:

I think we all know one of the biggest voices behind this. Just ask any of the honest hard working New York Tower... Who says money is not the last word? If this is allowed? It would surprize even me.... and lately I've learned to beleive anything. This is a crime in the truest sense. It's extorsion, and it's typical of New York..... Like one of the others said earlier....... What about 911? I had 3 dumps, 3 articulated loaders and 2 wreckers there for 2 weeks for absolutely no money.......FREE! ..... time heals all..... and how easy we forget.......Steve Second to None service for over 3 Generations...

 

Unknown Member said:

So how does this fit in? I'm from Hawaii. I order a new truck from Elsenheimer in NY which I've done twice. I drive through NY on the way to the West coast to have my truck shipped back to Hawaii. I happen to pass through one of these pit stops. Would I get ticketed? How am I suppose to know that NY has certain laws that affect my permission to drive through their state? How could I possibly be penalized for something that isn't public knowledge? There would have to be some kind of public posting in order to be legal. It's like driving in the fast (left) lane with a tow truck. Some states it's legal and some states it's not. It's legal in Hawaii. Some states say you cannot drive with your flashers on. It's legal in Hawaii. Some states require log books. Not in Hawaii. Some states require safety chains on every tow, Not in Hawaii. So for me to drive a wrecker from NY to the West coast, I first have to contact every state's PD and read up on their own particular rules or laws and see which ones apply to me during my travel? That's bazarre!

 

Unknown Member said:

No out of state trucks have been siezed. NYC DCA is mainly going after trucks that didn't renew there license, in some cases they are being taken because they are working before being inspected an licensed. Some times Truck Enforcement at truck spot checks might put it out of service for FMSCA violations and then take it for no NYC DCA medalion.


The DCA system is a mess as inspectors don't always know what there looking at or for. Could pass one truck and fail the identical truck. Also a major burden for those that want to get licensed ...the BS is unreal, and intolerable. If the DCA Commissioner owned a truck and tried inspection she would know. City stats contradict state and federal.

 

Unknown Member said:

I can't give an official response for any of the organizations, but I did attend the TRAA legislative conference last week, and it was discussed. Pete O'Connell (the counsel for TRAA and ESTRA) stated that the problem seemd to lie with the way the law in NY is written. Towing is classified as driving a tow truck, regardless of loaded or empty. The wording is a huge problem. At this point we are all waiting for a response from DCA, and hopefully a clarification.

 

mrtow25 said:

the lady from dca is on vacation until march 18th
steve
morristown autobody

 

Unknown Member said:

I can't for the life of me, remember the particular case in Atlanta. It was several years ago but, basically the same thing. You can contact TRAG, (Towing and recovery association of Georgia). I'm sure that it's on the records. The City of Savannah tried to do the same thing a few years back and it took only one meeting with city officials to get the law kicked. It seems that as long as you have your state registration or in a lot of cases, your Federal DOT ticket. You can go anywhere you want and, rightfully so! It seems to be a nice comparison to UPS, FedEx, etc;
I do understand and agree that police tows are an exception but, that should be the only exception and only then, to contract and rotation towers only.
Here we go again!
Don

 

Flora Wrecker said:

Well, we got our first warning. Went to a NYC tower's yard to do a swap. While unhooking or getting ready to unhook, my driver was approached by the police. He was told he wasn't allowed to tow without a medallion and that he could be impounded. They told him this is your warning and took down all the truck information.

Next chapter coming soon I'm sure.

 

ibflat2 said:

Wow Mike that sounds bad, just guess it is time to boycott NEW YORK products. I mean it might be like the old Pace Salsa commerical, NEW YORK CITY !!! get a rope

If they are going to be that way, about out of city, county, state tow trucks, I just guess that little old me down here close to the Spring Break capital of America will add a NYC surcharge to any customers from the city. It will be in response to the thug / mob antics that they seem to have developed.

And to think I was thinking of coming up sometime and spending my money in their city. Well guess Beef & Brew will miss me then....

The views herein expressed are ones of a lowly tow truck driver who thinks he knows nothing at all, but tries to baffle everyone with BIG WORDS like A and YEAH

 

TowZone said:

Simple solution is that the surrounding areas should get representation and the Tow Trucks from NY should not be allowed to cross into those areas without paying fees as well.

To the NY Towers: I'm being sarcastic guys, this would be an endless cycle where there would be no winners among the towers. But it may well come to that before the final chapter is written. For now you guys need to network between one another. Charge accordingly in and out of NYC then stand back and let the Trucking Companies scream. After all they have a voice which is often heard, where the Towing Industry does not seem too.

 

WM97891 said:

My Boss spoke to a Mrs Miller today from N.Y.C. Consummer Affairs, and Mrs Miller said it is correct that if you are in N.Y.C. with a tow truck without a medalion that you could have your truck impounded and be cited,

 

Towtrk1 said:

Well, Now we've got two different bits of info going on here. One says they arent taking out of state trucks, the other has someone saying they will. Ron's right, we need input from one of the Association's members to set this straight.
I can see if they dont want out of state trucks in Manhattan, but I-95 , as I see it, doesnt run thru Manhattan. How can you prevent an ICC authorized company from passing through your state? As far as I'm concerned, the argument ends there. And I-95 is a state road, not a city road. So is this a State wide decision, or a city decision?

Bill

 

letsplay2 said:

Actually, Todd the safety chains are a requirement here in Hawaii. It is just very rarely enforced.

The fine for not having 2 safety chains on and connected to a different attachment point and crossed is $250.00.

I have heard that they are getting ready to start enforcing the law but again who is going to? DOT? HPD? Sheriff?

Devin

 

WM97891 said:

i also called GSTA, cause on there website it says it's ok, to go into New York as long as your paper work and NJ Ins stickers are in order, she informed me that in the past few weeks NYC has changed its position and confirmed the info my boss found out today, she says they are waiting for the New York association to make a statement, she also informed me there is a similar law in Philadelphia

 

Micheal McGovern said:

The Philadelphia ordinance is currently being challenged in federal court in the case of Pennsylvania Towing Association (PTA) and Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Pennsylvania vs. City of Philadelphia (AASPP). Depositions in that case are set to get started in late April.

 

WM97891 said:

This wouldn't be the 1st time NYC acted illegally, seems like they haven't learned their lesson, no wonder they have to shut down firehouses due to a budget deficit

DWI cars -a sigh of release, Ruling forces city to return seized wheels

 

bodysoother said:

This is interesting about how a city would tax the ones who help them clear streets. think what a traffic problem they would have if not for tow trucks. People sometimes ask how far I will tow them, I say new york city if you have the money. I guess I will have to say somewhere else. +++Jim

 

Fredstowingnj said:

Hi Everyone This letter was sent by someone from the Metropolitan NY Towing and Auto Body Association.

Dear Fred....

Since you are so popular on the Web, let me give you an update on New York City seizing tow trucks. Perhaps you can share this with others?

First of all, let me make it clear... this was NOT the idea of New York City towers. This recent enforcement caught everyone off guard. The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs ("DCA") still has not responded in "writing" to our question of whether it is permissible for tow trucks to "pass through" New York City. Jonathan Mintz, Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Consumer Affairs said they were not pulling trucks off arterial highways. Our response was... What about trucks that are on city streets traveling to an arterial highway?" We gave the example of a tow truck from New Jersey that exited the tunnel into New York City. The truck was now traveling on a city street on its way to an arterial highway for the purpose of traveling outside the City. To date, there has been no response in writing.

The Department of Consumer Affairs says the problem they're having is telling the good guys from the bad guys. They claim there are towers that come from outside the City and tow within the City. We have never felt this to be such a problem to warrant the action DCA has taken.

A few weeks a tow truck was seized. The driver was on his way to a truck repair facility he uses in New York City. Another person drove into New York City to give his brother-in-law money. His truck was seized.

To demonstrate the lunacy of their Legal Division, there is a towing company (Cityline Towing) that is positioned on the borderline of New York City and Mt. Vernon. The company's building is located in Mt. Vernon. The company has its vehicles registered in Mt. Vernon. The company operates its repair shop in Mt. Vernon. The problem is their storage yard. The entrance to their storage yard is in New York City. DCA inspectors observed one of their tow trucks coming from Mt. Vernon with a car in tow. The truck traveled past the City's borderline, traveled about a quarter of a block and made a left turn into their storage facility. They were issued a violation for not having a City medallion (license). A hearing was scheduled. The hearing officer recognized the stupidity of this violation. The charge was dismissed. DCA's Legal Division has appealed the hearing officer's decision claiming the truck operated on a New York City street, therefore it requires a license. We have challenged DCA's appeal.

We are working with Peter O'Connell, General Counsel for the Empire State Towing & Recovery Association, Michael McGovern and AAA to get this situation corrected. We informed AAA that if one of its members breaks down outside New York City, its tow truck can be seized bringing that car back into the City.

At present the New York City Police Department still recognizes that a tow truck passing through New York City or entering the City to merely pick up or drop of a vehicle is NOT subject to seizure. This is documented in their training manual. It is only DCA personnel that are presently seizing tow trucks.

It has been suggested that companies entering New York City have some type of documentation with them showing their ultimate destination, but this is no guarantee that your truck will not be seized.

I will keep you updated.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body AssociationFred Koch,Jr.
Wreckmaster#99805
Traa Ct#8216
Fred's Towing
South River,NJ

fredsig.webp

 

Fredstowingnj said:

For Immediate Release

GSTA WORKS TO RESOLVE NEW YORK LICENSING ISSUEhttp://www.tow411.net/images/emoticonappl.gifhttp://www.tow411.net/images/emoticonthumb.gif

The Garden State Towman's Association, Inc. in conjunction with Conference of Northeast Towing Associations, Towing and Recovery Association of America and Pete O’Connell, council for Empire State Towing and Recovery Association is working with the New York Commissioners office to address the recent issue of out of state towers needing licenses to tow in New York.

Originally the association had been informed that New Jersey towers were not required to have the medallion, only the New Jersey tow truck registration decal. However in a recent conversation with New York’s consumer affairs department following a New Jersey tower being stopped and warned, the association was told that the state was enforcing a law on the books requiring all towers to be licensed.

John Glass, GSTA legislative chairman stated the New York Commissioners office is reviewing the requirements of the law and will hold meetings with representatives next week to discuss the interpretation and concerns surrounding this important issue.

GSTA strongly encourages all towers going in or out of New York City to carry a dispatch sheet with them that includes the starting point, turning point and final destination of their job.

The Garden State Towman’s Association is the largest recognized towing association in New Jersey and the only state towing association affiliated with the national Towing and Recovery Association of America.     

 

fredsig.webp

 

Richie said: April 11, 2004

Today the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs seized at least two more tow trucks for entering the City without New York City licenses. One of the trucks was from Yonkers, NY. The other truck was from Scarsdale, NY.

The Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association, located in New York City is working to persuade the City "to see the light" and stop these illegal seizures.

Until this matter is resolved... BEWARE!!!!!!!!!!!

We will keep you advised.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

Don29Years aka THTDON said:

It has been about a month since this stupid issue raised it's ugly head, with no resolution. This is an interstate commerce issue. If New York City was seizing Roadway Express trucks, or UPS trucks, this would have been cleared up long ago. Once again, I am asking the question, "where's the national towing associations?" This is a perfect case for one of them to prove themselves. If I were to go to NYC for a car, which I won't, I would not let my truck get taken away without a fight. I would get my money's worth out of someone's face.

 

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Trucker Jeff said:

Are they city owned tow trucks doing the towing ? I was just wondering if most feel like me if this ridiculous thing was still going on here and If and only If this would be the reason I would have to tow a completely legal an safe tow truck.The job that I had completed before being told to impound the said truck would have been my last.And for the record we just turned down a job coming off the island and back to Baltimore because of this silly madness.I would have contributed a good chunk of my money in tolls,road use tax,a 200.00 fuel purchase, lunch,trinkets for the kids and the list goes on.     

 

Micheal McGovern said:

You want to know why the Ours Garage ruling by the Supreme Court in 2002 was such a disaster for the towing industry? Well, this is it.

In the Ours Garage case, the towing industry, including TRAA, was arguing that the legal authority to license and regulate towing businesses and tow truck safety should be restricted to the STATE level. When the Supreme Court said, no, cities and towns can license and regulate tow trucks, too, it opened the door for the local NYC-type protectionist tow truck licensing laws.

Perhaps TRAA might consider pushing for federal legislation to effectively overturn the Ours Garage ruling and clarify that tow truck licensing, if any, should come from the states and not the local governments.  

 

Don29Years aka THTDON said:

Thank you Mike for you valuable support. Clearly, someone needs to start to something here. And soon. I rarely go to NYC, so it doesn't affect me much. But there are towers who have the need to go to NYC every day. So this situation must be affecting them greatly. For me, it would be as if I couldn't cross the border into NH anymore. That would be a big problem for me. One question that perhaps someone can answer. In an earlier posting, someone said that the NYC Police Department had no concern with tow trucks from outside the city coming in. It is just this Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). Are these people cops? I can't imagine surrendering my vehicle to someone who has the stature of a trash can inspector or a dog catcher.

 

Perhaps THIS is the place for legislation to start. We have over 1000 members here. And members of tow411.net tend to be more inteligent and informed on current events, than your basic tower. And people that are better informed tend to be more willing to open up their wallets. As the poster above me just said, if you take the attitude that, if it is not happening in my backyard, I don't care, then you are being short-sighted. Like body-rot in an old car, a cancer like this tends to spread, and spread quickly. In 1992, The city of Lynn, MA decided to award the city towing contract to the one company that would pay them the biggest kick-back per car towed. Despite protests from the towers of Lynn, and along with the support of many of us, the scheme went forward anyways. Many cities and towns, including my own, followed suit. Today, twelve years later, we are still paying the city $15 for each car we tow for them. At least now we can pass that fee on to the customer, since the fee is assessed to all of us, rather than any one company offering it. That whole scheme is nuts, and it always has been. But it's still going. Someone who is part of TRAA needs to hire Mike McGovern and go after this. Perhaps for now, he can get a temporary restraining order, stopping NYC from doing this, until the issue can be heard. To me, this is TRAA's big chance. They take the heat frequently for basically doing nothing, most of the time. This issue can change all of that, if they handle it right.

 

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alan407 said:

We need to fight this on a Federal level. UPS, Fedx, don`t need a licenses in each town they deliver to,so why should towers? Lets face it. We go to federal legislators and say we have 1000 members on a chat board who wants this issue looked at? Well TRAA has 250 members? We need to tell them as towers we have X amount of towing companys in the US, with X amount of trucks, and we talk to X amount of people a day, and if you want are votes, help us or we will do are very best to get you voted out of office. Money is a big help here, but we need towes to work together to get issue resolved.

 

In Memory of jerrys garage who said:

OK, I was informed by Scott Burrows (Membership Chairman)that during the month of April, the "New Member" dues for TRAA was 125.00, seeing as the TRAA is the only National tow association right now that has any kind of information out at all and that has any kind of clout. Support that. To fight things on the Federal Level it takes money. The only way a association will have the money is from Members joining and donating to the cause.

Now to be fair to the NATA guys they have to show me what they have done, and where they are going. And I may support them also.

I will say I am not 100% happy with the way the TRAA is being run, Check out the Association Roster and it is about 1 1/2 years old. So I plan to pay my dues, research the facts.

Jerry
My own thoughts

 

nyyorktowboss said:

this nonsense is also affecting ny towers to. last week i had a customer break down in nj right outside edgar road garage . i called my cousin and asked him to pick up the truck for me and bring it back to queens for me and he wouldnt. after some begging he agreed to go it but he waited until early evening to do it.http://www.tow411.net/images/emoticonhelp.gif iam glad to see that richie from ny metro is on this site that is our organization here in the big apple.http://www.tow411.net/images/emoticonappl.gif and please refrain from the godfather comments or you will be fitted wiyh cement shoeswm98943

advanced tow and recovery
ny ny
murray rude services
brooklyn ny

 

Unknown Member said:

From a unknown source;

This is a Patrol Guide issued to The NYPD officers from it's bosses.

For the purpose of this post the following definitions will be given.

Towing The moving of a vehicle where a fee, charge or other consideration is directly or indirectly imposed for such moving or where the towing service is performed by a person engaged in the servicing or repairing of vehicles.

Exempt Tow Truck The following are exempt from this procedure: A government agency, A vehicle dismantler, Franchised public transportation, A bus company, A utility company, An owner of a taxi/livery vehicle licensed to operate by the Taxi and Limousine Commission, A school bus company, a vehicle rental agency.

Purpose When a uniformed member of the service observes a tow truck, not licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs, towing a vehicle or the operator of such unlicensed tow truck soliciting for a tow or rendering services to a disabled vehicle:

Uniformed Member of the Service 1. Investigate tow truck not displaying DCA medallion or license number.
a. See ADDITIONAL DATA for the description of licensed tow truck and company graphics.
2. Ascertain whether tow truck is:
a. Exempt or,
b. Registered in the New York City or,
c. Tow company's place of business is within New York City.

Note :
In addition to exempt vehicles, there are certain tow trucks which shall not be subject to seizure under this procedure. These include company owned trucks that are used to tow only company owned vehicles, e.g., oil companies, bakeries, Con Edison. Additionally, tow trucks from outside New York City that are passing through or merely picking up or dropping off a vehicle within New York City are not subject to this procedure

Now from what I make of this above, is that the NYPD is not inforcing it the way we all think. But the DCA is. From what I have heard is that, they will not pull you over but yet wait for you to stop and then they will box to in. If you give them any problems then they will call the NYPD.

On another note, I see this being nothing but a cancer. I now know of one instance where a NYC truck was ticketed for not having a yonkers ny tow license. If this doesn't get resolved soon you might not be able to drive out of your county without having the other counties sticker...

 

Richie said:

On Friday, April 2, 2004 the Metropolitan NY Towing and Auto Body Association (based in New York City) filed paperwork at DCA in defense of a company that had their truck seized last month by the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs ("DCA"). This company had posted a $2,000.00 bond to get their truck back. They also paid towing and storage fees totaling $250.00. The company refused to settle the violation for $1,000.00 (plus towing and storage fees). They wanted their day in Court at DCA. DCA has their own Adjudication Division (Court). This Long Island company had entered the City to drop off a car. At the hearing the judge said that since they had no City license (medallion) they were guilty. It was argued at that time that DCA was misinterpreting the intent and the spirit of the law. It was further argued that they were violating Federal and State commerce laws. The record was left open for briefs to be filed in support of our position. Briefs were prepared by the Association, Michael McGovern and Peter O'Connell (Empire State Towing and Recovery Association).

In New York City the definition of towing is "operating a tow truck." The last change to this section of the law occurred in 1993. Nothing has changed since that time. In fact a prior administration of DCA was instrumental in working with neigboring townships so companies could travel through, pick up or drop off without incident. Several weeks ago everything changed. DCA elected to ignore its own agreements with neigboring townships.

DCA has been advised to cease seizing trucks until this matter can be discussed in more detail or face court action. We should know very shortly what DCA will decide. Ironically, DCA is supposed to be an agency that protects consumers and small businesses. They have now taken away a consumers choice as to who tows their vehicle. The motor clubs and EVEN the insurance companies are behind us on this one. They don't want to pay for a double tow. They don't want us to tow a vehicle to the City border, drop it and then pay another tow company to deliver it to its final destination. This will result in a double towing fee. In addition, who will bear the responsibility if at 2:00 o'clock in the morning a disabled car is towed to the City border and dropped. While the person waits for the other towing company to arrive that person gets mugged or robbed? Who will be blamed?

Some of you are asking who is seizing the trucks. At this time the New York City Police Department is not seizing trucks. They still permit trucks to pass through or enter the City to pick up or drop off. Only DCA inspectors are seizing trucks. Although DCA has a limited amount of inspectors in the field in cars, on Friday, April 2nd, one company was in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were seized when they entered NYC to pick up a car. They were from Yonkers, NY. In fact, we have a letter from 1994 written by DCA to the City of Yonkers asking that they allow NYC tow trucks to pass through, or to enter Yonkers to pick up or drop off. The City of Yonkers agreed. This is a slap in the face to the City of Yonkers and to their towers.

We will keep you advised.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

Don29Years aka THTDON said:

We have the need to go to PA and pick up a new truck and bring it back here. I have instructed my drivers to map their way around NYC, and not to go any where near it, no matter how far out of the way that might be. I would really hate to see my brand new truck get seized by the NYC Tow Nazis.

Meanwhile, does anyone know why tow trucks have been specifically targeted? I assume that they are not seizing UPS trucks, FedEx trucks, Roadway Express trucks, etc. Why only tow trucks? And, as far as these DCA inspectors blocking in a tow truck so they can seize it, it's only a matter of time before they box in the wrong guy. The the NYC coroner will be seizing the inspectors.

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letsplay2 said:

What!!!!!

Did I read it right they are only seizing tow trucks? Not Fed Ex, UPS, Roadway Express or any other transportation modes?

What about the bus service? Taxi's?

If it's only tow trucks then someone is going to end up being the scapegoat on this and the City will be found liable for all punitive and treble damages.

In the meantime though I would avoid NYC. Thanks god it's that far away from Hawaii.

Devin

 

In Memory of VA SUE who said:

Just got this in....

TOWING & RECOVERY ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, INC.
Phone: 800-728-0136 E-mail: ExecDir@traasite.com WEB: www.traasite.com



PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 5, 2004
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp CONTACT:

Harriet Cooley, Executive Director TRAA

AAA Obtains TRO Order Against New York City

 

Today, AAA’s counsel, Anthony Genovese of the New York City law firm of Robinson, Borg, Leinwand, Greene, Genovese and Gluck, P.C. obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). The TRO enjoins DCA from seizing tow trucks that are registered outside of New York City that are either driving through the City or entering the City for the purpose of picking up or dropping off their customers’ vehicles.

The TRO, which was issued by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Owen, will remain in effect until April 30, when the parties go back into court to argue whether it should be continued until the parties actually go to trial.

In presenting his arguments to the Court, Mr. Genovese relied, in part, on a brief that was developed by TRAA’s counsel, Peter O’Connell, in connection with three other matters that are currently before DCA. It would appear, however, that the Judge was most impressed by reciprocity agreements that exist between DCA and several neighboring communities. What is important is that the TRO applies to all out of town towers – whether or not they belong to AAA or come from a municipality that has an agreement with the City.

During the past several weeks, there have been extensive discussions between DCA on the one hand and AAA, O’Connell (who also represents the Empire State Towing and Recovery Association and the Conference of Northeastern Towing Associations) and representatives from the Metropolitan NY Towing and Auto Body Association on the other hand. Former TRAA counsel, Michael McGovern, has also written a brief to DCA on this issue.

AAA held off on going into Court until it became clear that DCA was unwilling to give proper assurances to the industry that it would discontinue seizing out-of-town tow trucks until the parties could negotiate a proper agreement.

According to O’Connell, “On April Fools Day, DCA agreed to withhold enforcement against out-of-town towers who either pass through the City with a vehicle in tow or enter the City for the purpose of dropping off a vehicle. They would continue to seize tow trucks that enter the City for the purpose of picking up vehicles that are to be taken to locations outside of the City.

TOWING & RECOVERY ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, INC.

Richie said: April 6, 2004

AAA was successful in obtaining a Restraining Order against the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs ("DCA"). This prohibits DCA from seizing "non-resident" tow trucks (trucks based outside NYC). At this time companies based outside NYC are free to drive through, pick up or drop off vehicles, without the threat of being seized.

The battle is not over. AAA, DCA and the City of New York have to be back in Court on April 30, 2004. We believe the City has no basis to seize trucks from out of town companies. Why DCA decided to reinterpret laws at this time is unknown, however, knowing the people being this, it will be a fight. We at the Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association are ready to take the gloves off. Working with AAA, Peter O'Connell and Michael McGovern we are prepared to do battle.

If any other regional or national association wishes to join the fight, we welcome you.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

WM97891 said:

A big thank you to AAA, at least one of the motor clubs stood up and did the right thing, also the Metropolitan NY Towing and Auto Body Association , and the Garden State Towman's Association and TRAA

 

datowman said:

thankyou AAA and other parties involved in the fight so far. a company that i know in our state just had their truck seized earlier today and i know this will be a fight now heading in our favor.
john

datowmansig.webp

 

Heffy004 said:

It is nice to see the industry pulling together for OUR common good & well-being, folks.

And, yes, this DCA stuff has impacted many more than just the NYC folks.

Everyone from the region & the rest of New York State is gravely impacted by their actions.

Stay safe & C'ya later

HEFFY

 

Unknown Member said:

I work with a towing company out of rockland county & now know why this is being done. All tow trucks within the five boroughs of New York City must have medallions on them. It turns out there are a few which found a way to avoid this procedure. The companies are based within the city itself but registered their trucks with addresses outside of the city. I can't say who did this (since i don't know who) but these shops (so to say) are the culprits. They are causing problems for everyone else who need to travel into or thru NYC to do their work. Hopefully the New York State DMV will give assistance in suspending the registrations of those tow trucks found to be doing this act. These people should know better than to avoid the medalloin fees.

 

alan407 said:

Its about time AAA has done something good for the towing industy. Funny thing here is AAA back out of the fight in Philadelphia.

 

WM97891 said:

well lets not forget back about a year or 2 ago the FCC wanted to make some changes, something about towing frequencies would be classified from "emergency to business" from what i recall AAA fought them and kept the original designation

 

Don29Years aka THTDON said:

First of all, if I can slap AAA when they are bad, it is only fair that I pat them on the back when they do good. They have done good, at least until the end of April. But I don't think that this DCA outfit is going to go away quietly. Thank you, AAA.

Second, TowinRock, if there are tow trucks operating in NYC that are not properly registered, or registered in the wrong place, it is a local police matter. That is no reason to go after potentially every tow truck in the country that passes through NYC.

And third, TowinRock, Welcome to tow411.net. Now, why not go and fill out your profile, so we all know who you are. We are like family here. No reason to hide. I like to see where the participants here come from. We have guys from Hawaii, Canada, even Austrailia, as well as the USA. You realize how small the world actually is, when you can go to the chat room and talk to a guy halfway around the world, like he is right next to you

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Richie said: April 7, 2004

On Monday, April 5, 2004 the lawyers for AAA obtained a Temporary Restraining Order against the City of New York. This order prohibits the City from seizing "out of town" tow trucks. They were scheduled to return to Court on April 30, 2004.

The City is challenging the Temporary Restraining Order. This issue will be re-argued before Federal Judge Richard Owen on Wednesday afternoon, April 7, 2004.

We will keep you advised.

Richie
Metopolitan NY Towng & Auto Body Association

 

Don29Years aka THTDON said:

I knew that they wouldn't go away quietly. You're doing a good job. Keep us posted.

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WM97891 said:

Unless a federal judge says otherwise later this month, motorists who need a tow truck to take them between New York City and here will have to deal with two different companies.

(the media finally takes note of this situation)

 

but bill according to what i can find on the Interstate Commerce Commission they where abolished Records of the Interstate Commerce Commission [ICC] are the rules they enacted still in effect?

 

Richie said: April 8, 2004

As previously stated, AAA went into Federal Court on Monday. April 5, 2004. AAA was successful in obtaining a restraining order against the City of New York. This order prohibits the City of New York from seizing or violating any "out of town" tow trucks. All parties have to be back in Court on April 30, 2004.

On Tuesday, April 6, 2004, the City attempted to contest the Temporary Restraining Order. The City's attorney, working with the Department of Consumer Affairs forwarded papers to the Judge (along with a copy to AAA's attorney) arguing that what AAA had represented to the judge was not accurate or factual.
It was agreed that the Judge woukd hear the City's argument this afternoon (April 7, 2004) to see whether he should recind his order. It was agreed that a conference telephone call between all parties would be held.

Working with AAA's attorney, the staff of the Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association and Peter O'Connell of ESTRA analyzed the paperwork that was forwarded to AAA's attorney. Many of the City's and DCA's fact were misleading. Armed with data the Association and Peter O'Connell provided, the attorney was prepared for the conference call.

The result..... The Temporary Restraining Order IS STILL IN FORCE!!! They go back to court on April 30, 2004.

The City intends to fight! We plan on being ready to do battle.

We will keep you advised.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

nytowboss said:

way to go richie wm98943

advanced tow and recovery
ny ny
murray rude services
brooklyn ny

 

Don29Years aka THTDON said:

You guys are doing a great job. Thanks. Keep up the good work.

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Richie said:

Today, April 14, 2004, the following press release was sent to all New York City television stations, radio news stations and newspapers by the Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association. Copies were also sent to City Council Members.

PRESS RELEASE
April 14, 2004

NYC LICENSING FIASCO LEADS TO
BORDER WAR WHERE ONLY THE PUBLIC GETS HURT

War! Motorists have to pay two fees to have their cars towed because two different towing companies must tow it. Motorists will be abandoned at the City border at all hours of the day and night. Why? Because someone at the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs ("DCA") recently decided to reinterpret the law.

In 1993, working together, the METROPOLITAN NY TOWING & AUTO BODY ASSOCIATION and the administration of the DCA sought out and obtained informal "reciprocity" agreements with all neighboring municipalities and towns. It was agreed by all that as long as a tow truck entered another's jurisdiction for the purpose of "passing through," enroute to their final destination; entered to drop off a vehicle or entered to pick up a vehicle to be removed from that jurisdiction, this was permissible. This is no longer the case. Earlier this year someone at the "DCA" made a decision that ANY tow truck traveling on a New York City street, for any reason, from anywhere, MUST have a towing license from the City of New York or the truck will be seized. This applies to every county surrounding NYC as well as every state in the Nation. This has resulted in the seizure of several tow trucks from Long Island, Westchester and other surrounding counties when they entered NYC to drop off or pick up a vehicle. To get the truck back a fine of $1,000 - $1,500 must be paid, plus hundreds of dollars in towing and storage fees.

Elected officials in the Counties surrounding NYC have warned that this situation could ignite a border war of sorts. As State Senator Nicholas Spano of Yonkers stated: "If the City of New York refuses to try and reach some accommodation, then we in Westchester have no choice but to respond in kind and impose our own restriction on New York City tow-truck operators." Once this starts NYC licensed towers will not travel into Westchester, Long Island or any other surrounding counties. What about New Jersey? Where will it end if NYC allows this to continue?

AAA and other motor clubs were informed that if a motorist residing within NYC becomes disabled outside NYC or vice-versa, it will now require two tows. One tow to the City border and the other to the final destination. Think about it. You live in Queens. You spend the day with relatives in Long Island. It is now midnight. On your way home your car breaks down. You call your motor club and a Long Island tower arrives. You tell the driver you want your car towed to your home in Queens. The driver tells you he can only tow you to the City border because he doesn't have a NYC license. He says once we arrive at the NYC border you can make arrangements for a NYC tower to tow you the rest of the way. You live in Yonkers and came into the City to see a Broadway show. Your car is involved in an accident. A NYC tower arrives. You tell him to tow your car to your local collision repair shop in Yonkers. He tells you he will tow your car to the City border because he doesn't have a Yonkers towing license.

Realizing the devastating effect on the public, on April 5, 2004 the Automobile Club of New York ("AAA") went into Federal Court to seek a Temporary Restraining Order ("TRO") prohibiting the City of New York, specifically the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs from seizing "Out Of Town" tow trucks. After listening to the attorney for AAA, Federal Judge Richard Owen agreed to issue a Temporary Restraining Order, prohibiting NYC from seizing or issuing violations to out of town tow trucks. At that time the judge ordered all parties to return before him on April 30, 2004 to pursue this matter.

Why does the City of New York, through the Department of Consumer Affairs, want to hurt the pocketbooks of NYC consumers? Why put their physical safety in jeopardy and hurt small businesses? WHY IS THE CITY FIXING SOMETHING THAT IS NOT BROKEN? After more than eleven years of reciprocity understandings and no change to the law, NYC now wants any tow truck entering the City, for any reason, to have a NYC license. Is the purpose to raise money for the City? The losers will be the consumers who have to arrange and pay a second tower to get their car home. Imagine if a woman with children is left at the border at night. Will the City of New York guarantee their safety because the DCA refuses to allow a tow truck to tow them home. Does Mayor Bloomberg want to create a new category of crime? The crime of laying in wait for unsuspecting and vulnerable motorists dropped at the border of New York City because they can't be towed to where they want to go.

This situation must be corrected before all of the counties surrounding NYC pass ordinances prohibiting NYC companies from entering their jurisdictions. This absurdity must end and end now! The Department of Consumer Affairs has no idea about the day to day operations of a tow truck company. Remember, in war, everyone loses. The City must reinstate its reciprocity agreements immediately or it will be the public that loses, big time.

Attached was also a copy of the Temporary Restraining Order.
Hopefully the press will get on our side.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

WM97891 said:

Tow-truck tug of war

 

Towtrk1 said:

I understand there was a meeting in Yonkers, NY yesterday morning. ANyone attend who can give info on what was discussed and worked out, if anything?

Bill

 

WM97891 said:

YONKERS — More than 100 local tow-truck operators gathered last night to discuss how to handle the license dispute between New York City and neighboring municipalities that has caused several of their trucks to be impounded.

 

datowman said:

is the dca this dang hard up to try to raise money for the city???? this is starting to get absolutely rediculous. repeated phone calls from my boss went unanswered by the dca. we finally got through to a voice at one point. their basic line is that it is being enforced to protect the well being of the consumer. my boss then asked them how is it protecting their well being if they have to pay two co's hookup charges and who accepts responsibility if we have to follow your rules by dropping people off at the border????
their response? "uhhh uhhhh uhhh i don't know it's just the law." how dang stupid can this yet become?

john

datowmansig.webp

 

Don29Years aka THTDON said:

You know, I keep thinking about how stupid this situation is, and I just can't justify their actions in my own mind. I keep wondering, of all the vehicles that travel on NYC streets, why do they single out the TOW TRUCK? If a customer buys a new couch from a furniture store in Mr. Vernon, and he wants it delivered to his house in Queens, does the delivery truck have to have a medallion from NYC to drive the furniture truck on NYC streets to deliver the couch? Can you take a Mt. Vernon-based taxicab from Mt. Vernon to Manhattan? Do they have a big chain-link fence around NYC, with a "No Trespassing" sign on it? How does UPS and FedEx get packages to NYC residents that originate from outside of the city? Can these parcel trucks operate on the streets of NYC without getting interfered with, or do they have to buy medallions too? Again, why is it always the tow truck that gets so much crap?

thtdonsig.gif

 

Unknown Member said:

Don- people love to get packages or new furniture. They would raise hell instantly if the delivery of those items was impeded.
Until they get left at the border, the average consumer will not think far enough ahead to realize the absurdity of what NYC is trying to do. Also, they do not put as much "worth" on towing, because it is not a tangible item. Sure, they don't want their vehicle sitting around on the road, but after it is moved, the excitement is gone.
They can look at their new couch or whatever object, and there it is.
I know you already know this is an issue in customer relations, etc. We all know the value of the services, yet many customers still look upon the industry as a bunch of vultures.
NYC knows that too- that's why towers have become a target to them...
My thoughts- L.W.

 

Richie said: April 21, 2004

AAA and the City’s attorney have to be back in court on April 30, 2004. Not leaving anything to chance, Norman Teitler, Executive Director of the Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association met with members of the City Council’s Consumer Affairs Committee. This is the committee that oversees the actions of the Department of Consumer Affairs. We asked the Committee if they would be willing to amend the existing language in the law. This new language would exclude towers based outside New York City from the City’s licensing requirement. A bill is being drafted. Once the bill is drafted we will seek sponsors of that bill.

We want to show the judge that the City’s administration is working with us to change the law, thus resolving the situation. Hopefully the judge will leave everything status quo until the law is changed. This would also save the judge from having to review all the documents, researching the issue and having to make a ruling. We have learned from the past that judges do not always rule in your favor, even if you have right on your side. We would rather get the law changed then leave it to a judge to decide.

The Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association represents hundreds of towing companies based within New York City and several towing companies based outside New York City. This issue affects everyone in the Metropolitan area. If you wish to join the fight, we welcome your assistance by becoming a member. Contact us at (718) 236-3473.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

Update..... On April 23, 2004, New York City's attorney prepared a response to AAA's argument and forwarded it to the judge. The City's response was almost 100 pages. The City argued that under New York City law they have the right to seize tow trucks not licensed in New York City. Norman Teitler, Executive Director of the the Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association met with AAA's attorney to review the City's response. It was determined that the City's response was inaccurate and facts were misstated.

All parties are scheduled to appear in Court before Judge Owen on Friday afternoon, April 30, 2004. We will keep you advised.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

WM97891 said:

Towing-rights debate continues
(Original publication: April 30, 2004)

 

Richie said: April 30, 2004

Originally, AAA and the City's attorney were scheduled to appear in Court on April 30, 2004. Since the judge is currently involved in a trial all parties are now scheduled to return to Court on Friday afternoon, May 7, 2004. The Restraining Order remains in place. This delay also gives AAA's attorney additional time to respond to the City's papers that were received on April 23, 2004.

The Metropolitan NY Towing and Auto Body Association is still working with the City Council to change the law. We hope to add a section that will permit non-City towers to enter the City without the need for licensing.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

datowman said:

richie let them know that any added cost to us will ultimately be passed along to the end user, the consumer. we are not going to sit back and have another fee law or liscence eat away from our profits. ALL businesses are existing to make money not lose it in "order to protect the consumer."Stay Safe
John

Before criticising someone try walking a mile in their shoes...... because then you'll be a mile away and wearing their shoes.

datowmansig.webp

 

Richie said: May 4, 2004

Once again the judge has changed the date.

The attorneys for AAA and New York City are now scheduled to appear before Federal Judge Richard Owen on THURSDAY, MAY 6, 2004 at 10:00 a.m.

We will keep you advised.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

WM97891 said:

Well today is the big day, Good Luck to the Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association and also the Automobile Club Of New York (AAA) and thank you Richie for the updates

 

I just got word that it ended for today and they are going back on May 20th, and the restraining order is still in effect, and that's all i know at this point, hopefully richie will let us know how it went today

 

Richie said:

Today, May 6th, all parties appeared in Court before Federal Court Judge Richard Owen.

Over the objections of New York City's attorney the judge listened to testimony from two representatives from the Automobile Club of New York. They explained how DCA's seizure of trucks impacted upon their ability to provide service to their members. It was testified that this was not only a local issue. They testified how AAA had to set up staging areas because towers from outside NYC were afraid to enter NYC. They explained how a vehicle would be dropped and arrangements would be made for a NYC tower to retrieve the vehicle. They also testified that this was having an economic impact on AAA and consumers were being inconvenienced. Interstate Commerce issues were also raised. The reps from AAA testified that their service providers often tow vehicles from New York to neigboring states and vice-versa.

Charles Schimdt Jr. testified as to safety issues. Mr. Schmidt testified that New York State requires an annual inspection of every tow truck. He testified that tow trucks from outside NYC are required to undergo the same safety inspections as tow trucks licensed by NYC. He also testified that trucks from outside NYC are also required to maintain insurance. It appears that the City's attorney was not prepared for the answers provided by Mr. Schmidt. Mr. Schmidt's answers were logical. The City's questions were not.

At the conclusion of Mr. Schmidt's testimony the City's attorney again argued that the testimony presented was not relevant and emphasized it only costs $300.00 a year to be licensed. They also believe they have the right to require companies to be licensed since they address the issue of "safety" by stating that they require fingerprinting of all prospective tow drivers and towing company officers. How does this effect someone who is coming into NYC to drop off a vehicle and may already be licensed in another jurisdiction?

Next week the City has to provide AAA's attorney with additional papers and a list of witnesses it intends on calling to testify. ALL PARTIES ARE SCHEDULED TO RETURN TO COURT ON MAY 20, 2004 AT 10:00 A.M.

THE RESTRAINING ORDER REMAINS IN EFFECT.

We will keep you advised.
Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

WM97891 said:

Club Fights Tow Truck Seizures

 

datowman said:

seems like the city lost some ground with the answers provided by mr. schmidt. gee i guess those of us outside of the city are just as insured and inspected as those in the city. well duh... what kind of operations do they think we are operating out here as i have said before the dca is just looking for more ways to make money. guess what dca those charges "will be passed along to the final user the CONSUMER" you know that person that you are trying to protect?Stay Safe
John

Before criticising someone try walking a mile in their shoes...... because then you'll be a mile away and wearing their shoes.

datowmansig.webp

 

Richie said:

In response top Datowman's comments. To the contrary, Mr. Schmidt's testimony was very good. The City's attorney objected to all testimony, including that of the people from AAA.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association.

 

Don29Years aka THTDON said:

Good job guys. Keep the info coming!

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Richie said: May 18, 2004

On May 20, 2004 all parties are scheduled to return to Court. As directed by the judge, on May 17, 2004 the City's attorney provided AAA's attorney with a list of potential witnesses to rebut the testimony of AAA personnel and to testify how the licensing by the City is "safety" related. This list includes DCA's Deputy Commissioner, an individual from their Legal Division and several people from their Enforcement Division.

Per the City's attorney: "The witnesses will testify about the manner in which DCA enforces the towing regulatory scheme to ensure public safety and financial responsibility and accountability on the part of towers."

We will keep you advised on what occurs on Thursday, May 20, 2004.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

datowman said:

you know it's funny. i bet ny towers would start getting real frustrated if ct started requiring them to buy and display liscences to operate in ct. maybe we should confiscate their trucks too.Stay Safe
John
datowmansig.webp

 

WM97891 said:

if you read that press release from AAA-Automobile Club Of New York, youll read that in fact Yonkers did just that

 

Richie said:

To Datowman:

If DCA is successful, neighboring towns will retaliate. The City of Yonkers was prepared to begin seizing NYC tow trucks. They held off. waiting to see if this matter could be amicably resolved, then the retraining order was put into place. In Long Island, for unlicensed towing in their jurisdiction, Criminal Court summonses are issued. If DCA is successful they may also consider seizing tow trucks.

Let's hope it doesn't come down to that.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

datowman said:

here in ct liscences and regulating is done to our local companies. there has never been a time when i've heard of out of state towers being regulated in our state. out of staters pick up on our hiways and in our backroads no questions asked. BUT we are only allowed to pick up in ny in towns NOT ON THE HIWAYS. things just never seem to be fair in the end.

Stay Safe

datowmansig.webp


Richie said:

Today, May 20, 2004 DCA Deputy Commissioner Jonathan Mintz took the witness stand on behalf of the City. Commissioner Mintz testified for three hours. Some of the things said by Commissioner Mintz about the towing industry as a whole were very disparaging. Even the judge had difficulty accepting many of the Commissioner's statements and/or explanations.

All parties are scheduled to be back in Court on Wednesday, May 26, 2004. At that time the City will present testimony from personnel of DCA's Licensing, Enforcement and Legal Divisions.

The restraining order remains in effect.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Assn.

 

datowman said:

and i hope they keep stumbling.Stay Safe
John
datowmansig.webp

 

Richie said:

The Court date originally scheduled for Wednesday, May 26, 2004 has been postponed.

With the lobbying efforts of the Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association, we were successful in getting both the City and AAA to sit down and discuss whether this matter can be resolved amicably. Their first meeting is scheduled for Wednesday morning, May 26, 2004.

Remember, you can never guarantee what a judge will decide. If the City and AAA can not work out a settlement they will go back to Court. We will keep you advised.

THE RESTRAINING ORDER IS STILL IN EFFECT.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

Today, May 26, 2004, in good faith AAA met with the City in an attempt to negotiate a settlement. Prior to this meeting, proposals were raised where both sides saw a possible compromise down the road. After today's meeting, it appears no compromise will be possible. The City changed its position. The City once again wants all trucks licensed, drivers and business owners/officers fingerprinted, all trucks inspected and the licensing fees for each truck and driver. After what occurred today, one would have to ask, is it really about safety or money?

ALL PARTIES WILL BE BACK IN COURT BEFORE THE JUDGE ON THURSDAY, JUNE 3, 2004.

We will continue to keep you advised.
Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

Micheal McGovern said:

Thanks for the updates, Richie.
Mike

 

Rod VT said:

I'll second Mike's thank-you. It's great to hear the unfiltered news.

By the way "scheme" is the word for "rotation" in England, as in, "you are required to have a knuckleboom by the police scheme" (or something like that). Sure sounds weird, but given that, it might not be so inappropriate to use here. Rod

 

Richie said:

THE FOLLOWING IS AN UPDATE OF WHAT OCCURRED IN COURT TODAY.
Today, June 3, 2004 all parties returned to Court. The City presented three witnesses. The City is trying to convince the judge that the issue is "safety". The judge asked all parties to focus on that issue. That was not what the City did today based on the testimony of the City's own witnesses.

The first witness was DCA's Assistant Commissioner in charge of their Licensing Division. She testified that 70% of the tow truck drivers had been arrested at one time or another. She did not have statistics as to how many of those arrests resulted in convictions. She explained the application and the fingerprint process.

The next person to testify was an inspector from DCA's Enforcement Unit. The City claims that their inspections make sure trucks are roadworthy and safe. While the inspector didn't acknowledge it outright, DCA's tow truck inspections are purely cosmetic. They make sure the trucks have the appropriate lettering. Since they claim they inspect the trucks for "safety," AAA's attorney asked the inspector if they check the brakes, rotors, tires, hydraulics, fluids, check under the hood, put the truck on a lift, go under the truck, etc. The answer to each question was no. The judge's expression after hearing this testimony was a look of amazement since the City is claiming their inspections are "safety" related. They did acknowledge that they check the amber warning light and for the New York State Department of Motor Vehicle Inspection sticker.

Another inspector from DCA's Enforcement Division also testified. He acknowledged that reciprocity agreements were in place under prior administrations. As long as a truck came into the City to pick up, drop off or pass through this was permissible. He testified that he was told about a year and a half ago that the policy had changed. As we stated in the past, this was news to the neighboring communities.

Many questions asked by the City's attorney were objected to and sustained by the judge, causing the City's attorney to become frustrated. The judge felt many of the City's attorney's questions were irrelevant and did not address the issue at hand.

These three witnesses were on the stand for almost three and a half hours. We didn't hear any testimony that supports the City's position.

The City still has two more witnesses to present. One is from DCA's Legal Division and one is from the Legal Division of the New York City Police Department.

ALL PARTIES ARE SCHEDULED TO RETURN TO COURT ON JUNE 17, 2004. THE RESTRAINING ORDER IS STILL IN PLACE.

We will continue to keep you advised.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

Heffy004 said:

Richie......

Thanks for the continual updates on this issue.

Stay safe & Catch ya later

HEFFY

 

datowman said:

thanx richie for the continuing updates on this matter. i love to hear the city continually stumble on their own issues.Stay Safe
John

datowmansig.webp

 

Don29Years aka THTDON said:

Thanks for the great job keeping us all up to date. As was just said above me, I love watching the city shoot their own case full of holes with their own gun! I'd like to know where they got the statistic that 70% of all tow truck drivers have been arrested. No one that I currently employ, or previously, for that matter, has ever been arrested while working for me, whether on the job or off. (I know of one driver that had been arrested years ago when he was a kid for drinking in public at Salisbury Beach. To me, that doesn't count.) Seventy per cent sounds kind of high. Unless they are only refering to NYC tow truck drivers. Like I said way back at the beginning, all of this is about money. NYC needs it, and they want us all to pay it.

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Towtrk1 said:

Rich, I will answer you here...you are doing a great job keeping us informed of this matter. Keep up the good work.
I,. too enjoyed the city's performance in court as described here.
70% of their drivers arrested?? Perhaps instead of safety issues, they need to pass a bill on screening drivers more carefully.

sigtowtrk1.gif

 

TowZone said:

So, it states that 70% of the drivers which had paid their $20 for a license had prior arrest records. I'll agree that possibly the background checks are flawed. However, it does not state what the criteria for obtaining such a license is there. Does any arrest record deny the applicant the opportunity of obtaining said license?

I would think that a misdemeanor would not be as heavily weighed as would a felony conviction. Then it would be on a case to case basis. Do you really think that a guy that had a felony arrest record from 20 years ago should be denied the right to earn a living within his home state?

Just curious, not wanting to start any debates within this post. We can start another post for that purpose.

 

Richie said:

Many of you have commented on the statistic that 70% of the tow truck driver applicants had been arrested in the past. In the long run, over 90% of the applications submitted are approved, despite the arrests.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

TowZone said:

Thanks Richie, I knew there must be some clarification there. Although, I would still like to know about the process surrounding those driver applications.

 

Richie said:
New York City requires that you possess a license from them to drive a tow truck. This is in addition to the Department of Motor Vehicle license issued by the State. All applications for tow truck company drivers and tow truck company officers and/or shareholders require that fingerprints be submitted with the application.

A $75.00 fee is paid to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services to run (process) the fingerprints. The results of that search are forwarded to DCA for review. Based on how long ago the conviction occurred and the nature of the crime, a decision is made whether to issue a license. A person recently convicted of Grand Theft Auto would most likely be declined a license to tow. All fingerprints are maintained in the State's database so in the event a driver or owner is arrested, DCA is notified. I hope this answers some of your questions.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

WM97891 said:

Richie,
Can a Towing company from out of state get medallions? or does the company have to be based in the city?

 

Richie said:

This is in response to several of your inquiries:

A business does NOT have to be based in NYC to obtain NYC medallions. On behalf of your business you would submit an application, fingerprints for each business owner, corporate officer or shareholder owning 10% or more; a copy of your corporation's filing receipt with the State of New York (to do business in NY State) or a Business Certificate; proof that your business is located in a commercially zoned area or a letter from your town stating they have no objection for you to operate a towing company at your present address; a copy of your lease or deed; proof your business has workers compensation insurance or an exemption from the Workers Compensation Board (if you have no employees); proof of vehicle insurance; a copy of each vehicle's DMV registration; a notarized statement that your business accepts credit cards; two photographs of each owner, officer or shareholder (owning 10% or more) and money. The fees are $75.00 to process each person's fingerprints; $600.00 for each truck (the fee is prorated throughout the two year licensing period) and a one time payment of $200.00 to join DCA's "Trust Fund. If you do not want to pay the $200.00 you must obtain a $5,000 compliance bond. This bond is renewed every two years. Joining the Trust Fund is cheaper. This is in the event you are ordered to reimburse a consumer. Let's say a consumer files a complaint with DCA that you damaged their car. DCA will schedule a hearing. If the hearing officer decides you damaged their car you will be ordered to reimburse the consumer. If you fail to do so, your license to tow will be suspended and they will "invade" the fund or bond to reimburse the consumer. After all the paperwork is processed your trucks will be scheduled for inspection to make sure each truck possesses the appropriate lettering, current inspection sticker, registration, tax permits if applicable and to see that the truck is visibly roadworthy.

Remember, anyone driving a "medallioned" tow truck must have a DCA license to "drive" a tow truck. An application will be submitted along with a copy of your driver's license, fingerprints, photographs (if the application is submitted on your behalf) or they will be taken in person at DCA. The fees are $75.00 for the fingerprints and $20.00 for the license to drive. (This fee is also prorated.) If you have a NY State DMV driver license it will be checked via computer to make sure it is current. If it is a license from outside NY State, an abstract from that State's DMV will be submitted with the application as well as proof that you reside outside NY State.

THE TURNAROUND TIME FOR DCA TO GET BACK YOUR FINGERPRINTS IS 6 - 8 WEEKS. Therefore it takes almost two months to get a license, assuming you do not have convictions. If you do, they are handled on a case by case basis.

IF YOU WANT TO GET LICENSED OUR ASSOCIATION CAN SUBMIT ALL THE PAPERWORK FOR YOU, WITHOUT YOUR HAVING TO TRAVEL TO MANHATTAN. THESE APPLICATIONS CAN NOT BE SUBMITTED BY MAIL. OUR TELEPHONE NUMBER IS (718) 236-3473.

THE RESTRAINING ORDER IS IN EFFECT THEREFORE YOU SHOULD NOT BE CONCERNED WITH COMING INTO, OR PASSING THROUGH NEW YORK CITY. It was only DCA inspectors that were seizing trucks. DCA's inspectors are aware that this restraining order is in place. The New York City Police Department had not been seizing trucks. Recently the Police Department sent out an memo to all commands stating that tow trucks from outside NYC can enter the City to pick up, drop off, or pass through without City medallions. This has always been the Police Department's policy. It is only DCA that decided to reinterpret the law.

I hope this answers many of your questions.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

WM97891 said:

thank you Richie

 

Don29Years aka THTDON said:

Obviously, it is not worthwhile for most of us to go through this lengthy and expensive process, just to satisfy the occasional need to go to NYC to pick up a customer's car. If we were in a city or town abutting NYC, that would be another story. I am 275 miles away from NYC. I have been to NYC to pick up or deliver a car about 8 times over the past 32 years. But not at all for about the last five years. Like deaths, these trips seem to come in threes. The one question of mine that you did not answer is, why all the fuss about tow trucks? Do they fingerprint drivers of UPS or FedEx trucks? I would guess probably not. They seem to go a long way to make sure that a tow truck driver is on the up and up. That tells me that, as an industry, we haven't gained much ground, at least with NYC. It is still assumed that all tow truck drivers are criminals. And the burden of proving otherwise falls on the tow truck driver and tow company owners. That policy flies in the face of the laws that the rest of us live by, which is innocent until proven guilty. To me, we have enough grief to deal with, without always having to prove to the public that we are not criminals. Elsewhere on this forum, you can read a story about a tower who was towing an abandoned trailer on the back of a tow truck. The trailer broke free from the truck, took off, crossed a median strip, and hit an oncoming car head on, and killed the woman driving the car. To me, that seems like an accident that was preventable, as it seems that the tow truck driver did not use any safety chains. These kinds of accidents give us all a black eye. People who get towed think that we are all thieves when they come in to retrieve their car and pay the bill. NYC's policy only gives them ammunition to shoot at us. As far as the bond issue, in MA, we have to post a $25,000 bond when we renew our used car license, so there is money available if a consumer complains. Luckily, we don't have to post a bond to tow. Don't give the motor clubs any ideas!

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Richie said:

To Don 29 Years....

Since 1995, in New York State, towers are required to have minimum insurance coverage of $300,000 Combined Single Limit (CSL) and $25,000 "on-hook" insurance coverage in the event a vehicle is damaged while in tow.

In New York State, several years ago new and used car dealers were required to have a bond. The minimum amount for a used car dealer is $10,000.

As far as not regulating UPS and FedEx trucks, I guess at this time they are not a risk to the public. As we have stated in the past, we do not know the motivating force behind this issue. We don't believe it's economic. Maybe it's just that some person in the City needs to get a life.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

It’s now in the hands of the judge.

Closing arguments ended at 5:50 p.m. N.Y.T. The City presented two witnesses. The first witness was Karen Miller. She is an attorney at the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (“DCA”). She considers herself to be the “expert” on towing issues for DCA. Ms. Miller testified that the existing policy of “reciprocity” between local municipalities was terminated by DCA sometime in 1997 or 1998. Ms. Miller recalls attending a meeting with a former DCA Commissioner who decided that if an exception to licensing did not appear in the City law, they were to enforce the written law as it appears. When challenged that local municipalities were under the impression that reciprocity still existed until earlier this year, Ms. Miller was unable to document this change of policy in writing. It had been previously testified and affidavits had been submitted by local municipalities indicating that they were never notified the policy ended, either verbally or in writing. While Ms. Miller testified that the Department’s policy changed in 1997 or 1998, another DCA witness, an inspector from their Enforcement Unit testified he was notified of the policy change a year and a half ago. This conflicting testimony was raised by the judge during the City’s closing arguments.

Ms. Miller also indicated that there are numerous complaints against towing companies. Most of the complaints were actually against towers licensed and based within in NYC. Ms. Miller also argued that by licensing (and fingerprinting) any tower coming into the City, this would protect the public. It had been previously testified that many towers had convictions in the past ranging from DWI, to drug use or possession, grand theft auto, insurance fraud and rape. By fingerprinting these people and weeding out the major felons they would be protecting the public. This is their argument supporting the issue of “safety.”

The City introduced administrative hearing decisions from DCA showing that DCA inspectors and Police Officers had been enforcing the procedure of seizing non-NYC tow trucks without licenses for the past several years. They did not disclose which decisions involved “point-to-point” towing within the City, which requires licensing and would be a justified seizure. They did not indicate which seizures involved towers that perform repossession tows. This type of tow also requires licensing when performed in NYC.

The next person to testify was Sgt. Gleeson from the New York City Police Department. At the prior hearing it was demonstrated that an Operations Order from the Police Department dated May 19, 2004 reconfirmed the policy we knew to exist. In the New York City Police Department’s Patrol Guide (the procedure manual that all police officers follow), under the subject: “Seizure of Unlicensed Tow Trucks” a “note” appears. The note states:

“In addition to exempt vehicles listed above, there are certain tow trucks which shall not be subject to this procedure. These include company owned trucks that are used to tow only company owned vehicles e.g. oil companies, bakeries, Con Edison. ADDITIONALLY, TOW TRUCKS FROM OUTSIDE NEW YORK CITY THAT ARE PASSING THROUGH OR MERELY PICKING UP OR DROPPING OFF A VEHICLE WITHIN NEW YORK CITY ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THIS PROCEDURE.”

The Judge has presented this or a similar document to each City witness. Each City witness has stated the Police Department’s Patrol Guide is not the “law.” The judge argues that it may not be the law, but this document states that entering the City to pick up, drop off or merely pass through would not subject you to seizure. The judge stated that this document is out there, available to the public and that a plain reading of the language contained in the Police Department’s Patrol Guide makes the judge believe that if he were driving a tow truck, it would be safe for him to enter NYC without having to worry about being seized. The judge also finds it difficult to comprehend if someone is driving from Long Island to Westchester, that simply traveling through New York City, even without a vehicle “on-the-hook,” subjects a truck to seizure.

Sgt. Gleeson acknowledged that this "note" dates back to 1994 and was added during the time the reciprocity agreements were in place. This language has remained unchanged each time the Patrol Guide was revised. Only when this document was presented in Court to support AAA’s argument that the policy of reciprocity still exists do we now hear testimony that the language ADDITIONALLY, TOW TRUCKS FROM OUTSIDE NEW YORK CITY THAT ARE PASSING THROUGH OR MERELY PICKING UP OR DROPPING OFF A VEHICLE WITHIN NEW YORK CITY ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THIS PROCEDURE is “misstated” and contradictory to law. Ironically, yesterday was a formal memo was published by the New York City Police Department to that effect. We know this is at the doing at the Department of Consumer Affairs. If the reciprocity ended years ago, as DCA claims, why wasn’t the Police Department notified? Both agencies have a close working relationship.

Throughout the proceedings, once again, many questions posed by the City attorney were objected to and not allowed to be answered. During the morning session the City’s attorney was once again told to present testimony that deals with the matter of “safety” which is the issue before the judge.

After the City finished presenting its case, a rebuttal witness was called by AAA’s attorney. Julie Gambardella from Gambardella Towing in Yonkers took the stand. She testified that her company has several trucks and that two of them were licensed by the City. She testified she had been licensed (medallioned) by NYC for years because she had accounts in New York City and at one time performing point-to point towing within New York City. Earlier this year her company had a tow truck seized when she responded to a call to pick up a car in the Bronx to tow back to Westchester County. Ms. Gambardella testified that when the truck was being seized they told the DCA inspectors that they were not doing point-to-point towing in NYC. The company posted $2,000.00 to get their truck back, plus approximately $353.00 in towing and storage fees. The $2,000 sits with DCA today until this matter is resolved. When the City attorney cross-examined Ms. Gambardella, the City’s attorney argued that the policy had changed years ago. Ms. Gambardella testified that she was present years ago when the City of Yonkers and DCA entered into the agreement of reciprocity. She testified that her father worked with the Police Department of the City of Yonkers to finalize this agreement. Ms. Gambardella testified that to her knowledge, neither she nor the City of Yonkers was ever notified this agreement was no longer in effect.

Ms. Gambardella also testified that she is Certified Department of Motor Vehicles Inspector for the State of New York. Ms. Gambardella testified that turning on the amber beacon and moving the towing apparatus at the request of the inspectors is not a safety inspection. DCA argues that by inspecting the truck for the appropriate lettering ensures the correct name, address and telephone number appear on the truck, thereby protecting the public. There was no testimony that hundreds of tow trucks are running through the City with incorrect names and address appearing on their trucks.

After Ms. Gambardella’s testimony concluded closing arguments began. AAA’s attorney did an excellent job arguing that the City had not met its burden on the issue of safety. The attorney argued issues such as restraint of interstate commerce and that the burden of being licensed is not justified. The Supreme Court case of Our Garage was cited in further support of their arguments.

The City’s attorney argued that by being licensed they are protecting the public and that is consumer "safety." The City based most of its arguments on the decision in Federal Court of “Ace Auto Body.” A review of the decision in this case specifically addressed two issues. One issue was that New York City could not regulate the price for a consensual tow and tow trucks could not respond to the scenes of accidents without being contacted by the Police Department.

IT IS NOW IN THE HANDS OF THE JUDGE. IT IS ANTICIPATED THAT A DECISION SHOULD COME DOWN WITHIN A FEW WEEKS SINCE THE RESTRAINING ORDER IS STILL IN PLACE. If AAA is successful they will have succeeded in having an injunction against the City of New York prohibiting the City from seizing tow trucks from outside NYC. A trial will then be held on the issue. In the meantime the Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association is working with City Council members to revise the existing language of the towing laws to include language that excludes non-NYC towers from being licensed when entering NYC to pick up, drop off, or when simply passing through.

I will continue to keep you advised.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

WM97891 said:

Thank you Richie for the very detailed coverage you are a credit to the industry.

 

Don29Years aka THTDON said:

Richie, I would also like to thank you for your good work. Like I said in an earlier post, we think that we have come a long way in this industry with our Wreckmaster certified drivers, sharp-looking trucks, and uniformed drivers. But unfortunately, in the eyes of the constabulary, namely people like the NYC DCA, we are the scum of the earth.

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datowman said:

thank you richie for the update. now it's time to just wait and see

datowmansig.webp

 

Buddy Corigan said:

Good Luck! Good job, Richie! Always a good read! I am sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for the outcome..

Peter

 

Richie said:

The judge has granted the Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association permission to file an Amicus Curie ("Friend of the Court" brief). This brief will be filed on Wednesday morning. Metropolitan represents hundreds of towing companies in the Metropolitan area. We intend to reinforce the fact that the City has not met its burden to require non-resident towers to be licensed. Not only would this requirement be detrimental to towers, we intend to show the judge that it will be the consumer who will be the big loser if DCA prevails.

Since no one knows the inner workings of DCA better than we do we intend to rebut several statements presented at the hearing, including those of DCA's towing "expert."

After our brief is filed the City will have an opportunity to respond. We do not know how quickly a decision will be rendered. Personally, we don't care if it takes forever for a decision to be received since the RESTRAINING ORDER IS STILL IN EFFECT.

We will continue to keep you advised.
Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

Micheal McGovern said:

You are correct. There is a very similar case currently pending in the federal court in Philadelphia challenging the Philly towing ordinance under the federal statute that deregulated intrastate trucking. The plaintiffs in the case are:

Pennsylvania Towing Association
Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Pennsylvania
Helmrich Transportation (New Jersey)
Westend Towing 'N Storage
Tow Squad, Incorporated

It was filed long before the New York City case and has been pending for a long time. The city there also requires all towing companies, including out of town, and out of state, towing companies, to apply and pay for city-issued permits, submit to inspections, comply with regulations, etc., before performing any towing services within the city.

The Philly case was put on "hold" by the court for awhile because the City Council was considering amending its ordinance to exclude out of town towing companies, but because the legislative process was taking too long, the judge put the case back on the active docket.

Like the case in New York, legal papers have been filed with the Philly court and it is "in the hands of the judge." We are waiting on a ruling. Hopefully, whichever court rules first, New York or Philly, it will be a favorable decision which can then be used in the other case.

The two pending cases raise an interesting question: What if one of the courts rules the city permit system is illegal and the other court rules that it is legal?

 

Richie said:

On July 21, 2004 a New York City police officer seized a tow truck of a company based outside New York City. On July 22, 2004 a hearing was held at the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs ("DCA"). The owner of the towing company contacted our office asking what he should do. We advised him to leave it to us to handle.

At the hearing a Motion to Dismiss was made by me (I represented the towing company) indicating that the DCA Court had no authority at this time to adjudicate this matter and the police officer had no right to seize the tow truck. A copy of the Restraining Order was submitted to the hearing officer for his review. The police officer acknowledged that he was aware of the restraining order but believed it only applied only to those companies that held licenses in other jurisdictions. This is incorrect.

I stated that the police officer was in contempt of the Court Order by seizing the truck and if this proceeding went forward DCA would also be in contempt of the judge's order. All parties are prohibited from enforcing the towing laws against "non-resident" towers. The Restraining Order does not limit it to towers located outside New York City that have their own local licenses.

The hearing officer, not being sure of what to do, recessed the matter for one hour to seek guidance. During this time we contacted the attorney's for AAA to let them know what had occurred.

When we reconvened I was informed by the Administrative Law Judge that DCA's Legal Division had discussed this matter decided to withdraw the charge against this company for "unlicensed towing activity." This was a wise decision on their part. Paperwork was then drawn up releasing the tow truck to the owner at no cost to the company.

We will continue to keep you advised.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

datowman said:

are these people really that ignorant when it comes to enforcing the laws???? the cop acknowledges there is a restraining order. granted it covers everyone but he thought it applied to licensed out of his jurisdiction. he seizes a non local tower. obviously this out-of-towner has a license to operate in another jurisdiction. why can't they stop contradicting themselves on how they are going to interpret their own laws???? utterly ridiculous.

datowmansig.webp

 

bach towing said:

And correct me if I'm wrong but the law was not even being enforced by the NYPD, but by the DCA or whoever those monkeys are.

What about the time and expense of losing the truck for a day and spending a day in court

I know since hearing of the restraining order I have sent truck to the city several times

This was done blatantly and intentionally after a restraining order was put into effect. Makes me mad just to think about it.

I think we are going to have to tow around the city in 24 foot Ryder trucks... then they will leave us alone! 🙂

 

Don29Years aka THTDON said:

That's an idea. Have a dry box built on an aluminum carrier with freight doors on both sides. Leave it all white with just a freight company name on the door, like Acme Freight Co. (FedUp might be more fitting, though!) Those dopey NYC cops will never know the difference!

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Richie said:

To answer some of your questions...

The vast majority of non-resident tow trucks have been seized by DCA personnel. The police have seized a few. In this particular police precinct, many NYC tow trucks have been properly seized for being unlicensed. Some of the police officers act as of if they are "cowboys." A few days earlier a police officer from this this same police precinct seized a NYC tow truck after a DMV check revealed the truck did not have insurance. This is not a basis for seizing a truck, but it was done anyway. After a hearing and demonstrating proof of insurance, the truck was released.

As far as non-resident towers, other than this particular seizure, to our knowledge there have been no seizures by DCA or by police officers since the restraining order has been in place.

In order to recoup lost income, a "Notice of Claim" has to be filed against the City. Most often a lawyer has to be hired. In most cases, it's believed it's not worth the hassle. It's unfortunate, but true.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

Today, July 28, 2004, Federal Judge Richard Owen ruled in favor of AAA.

Later this evening I will post portions of the decision and explain what the next step will be.

Tow trucks from outside NYC may continue to come into NYC to pick up, drop off, or pass through without the threat of being seized.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

In Memory of VA SUE who said:

FROM THE OFFICES OF TRAA:

Judge Issues Preliminary Injunction Against New York City in AAA Case

Today, United States District Court Judge Richard Owen issued a preliminary injunction which retrains New York City from enforcing its laws against out-of-town towers who either drive through the City or enter the City for the purpose of picking up or dropping off their customers’ vehicles.

 In his decision, Judge Owen focused upon the following exchange that he had with New York City Consumer Affairs Deputy Commissioner Jonathan Mintz:

THE COURT: If you wanted to take your tow truck and go from Nassau up to Westchester and just wanted to drive through New York, could you get seized?

THE WITNESS: Well, you could get seized. What you should know is that the reason the law was written to include such a hypothetical was because what happens is if you stop somebody and the law says it is OK to pass through and stop somebody and say, hey, where is your license, all they’d have to do is say, hey, I am just passing through. I am going to my girlfriend’s in New Jersey or wherever it is. And unless we followed them around, we wouldn’t know they were telling the truth. So the law was written to stop enforcement officers from having to try to prove that this industry wasn’t lying every time you stopped them. (emphasis added by the Court).

Judge Owen found that: “This somewhat astonishing explanation completely flies in the face of constitutional protection of having a reasonable or probable cause before property is seized.” After finding that the City’s enforcement policies could actually place a single woman driver “… in a possibly lonely and unprotected wait at the New York City border in the wee hours of the night if the pick-up tow is late” and that the City’s vehicle inspection process was unrelated to safety, Judge Owen concluded:

“Given all the apparent issues on the record before me, I find that most of the risks posed by DCA’s interruption in towing services into and out of most of New York City are to the disabled car owners and that a marked burden on interstate commerce is imposed on towers by the City Code’s broad definition of “towing activity,” and the dubious value of the City licensing scheme with respect to an actual impact on towing safety and financial accountability all satisfy plaintiff’s requirement for showing a risk of irreparable harm and the high standard of success on the merits. Accordingly the preliminary injunction continuing the long-standing Reciprocity Agreement until further order of the Court is granted. The Police Department is to continue to act as it has for years in the past, … and the DCA is hereby enjoined form seizing or otherwise sanctioning legitimate towing vehicles that are owned and operated by legitimate tow companies outside of New York City which are merely picking up or dropping off a vehicle within the City or merely passing through, with or without a vehicle in tow, so long as those towers are duly authorized to conduct towing activity pursuant to late laws and regulations of their own municipalities and in accordance with the motor vehicle laws of the state of New York.”

TRAA Executive Director, Harriet Cooley, congratulates AAA and their attorney, Anthony Genovese of the New York City law firm Robinson, Brog, Leinwand, Greene, Genovese, and Gluck for a job well-done.

 

Richie said:

What follows is the text of the decision in the matter of
AUTOMOBILE CLUB OF NEW YORK INC. against Gretchen Dykstra, as Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs of the City of New York and the CITY OF NEW YORK.

Memorandum & Order 04 Civ. 02576 (RO)

OWEN, District Judge:

Plaintiff Automobile Club of New York (“the Club”) is a not-for-profit corporation providing twenty-four hour roadside assistance and towing of privately-owned vehicles in the metropolitan and surrounding counties through a network of New York of affiliated contractors. The Club receives and deals with requests for towing assistance in the hundreds of thousand in any given year, and as many as 40 cars per day are towed by Club contractors into, or out of, or through New York City. The New York City agency dealing with towers is, and for years has been a limited branch of the Department of Consumer Affairs for the City of New York (“DCA”) together with the New York City Police Department.

The Club moves, pending the trial herein, for a preliminary injunction, continuing a certain Reciprocity Agreement that came into existence in 1987 between the DCA and counties surrounding New York City (including Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester,) regarding DCA’s treatment of legitimately licensed tow trucks from surrounding counties. That agreement of DCA, through necessarily informal as circumstances obviously have mandated, has continuously existed since 1987 and its specifically evidenced by various DCA and Police Department writings over the sixteen years since all the way to May 19, 2004, (footnote - notwithstanding minor occasional dishonoring lapses over the years.) a mere few weeks ago. A number of these writing are set forth verbatim hereafter, beginning with a DCA memorandum of then Assistant Commissioner Lempin on April 4, 1990 which reads:

SUBJECT: RECIPROCITY AGREEMENT
RE: TOW TRUCK COMPANIES

----------------------------------------------
This memorandum will serve to reinforce the towing reciprocity agreement the Department has with both the Tow Advisory Board and the different representative associations, regarding who requires a towing license.

The intent of the agreement was to not penalize those companies, who for the most part, just pass through the city or occasionally tow vehicles from the city to bordering counties or states.

The above memorandum was followed by a letter of Mr. Lempin, who had become DCA’s First Assistant Commissioner, dated January 13, 1993 to James A. Powers, Supervisor of Licensing, and Town of Hempstead. It reads in part: “Since 1987, when the Department of Consumer Affairs assumed the licensing and regulatory authority over towing businesses. we have honored an informal licensing reciprocity policy with surrounding counties. This policy allows towing firms from Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties to pass through New York City without having to obtain a license.”

Next Mr. Lempin, by then the DCA Deputy Commissioner wrote a letter to Deputy Mayor for Operations Anthony E. Shaw of the City of Yonkers on November 7, 1994 which reads in part: “Since 1987 when the Department of Consumer Affairs assumed the licensing and regulatory authority over towing businesses, we have honored an informal licensing reciprocity policy with surrounding counties, towns and villages. This policy allows towing firms from Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties, who do not conduct business on a regular basis in the city, to pass through New York City without having to obtain a Consumer Affairs tow permit.”

At some point the reciprocity agreement became embodied in the printed “Patrol Guide” issued by the Police Department of the City of New York to its officers titled “Seizure or Unlicensed Tow Trucks.” The guide for January 1, 2000 reads in part: Tow trucks from outside New York City that are passing through or merely picking up or dropping off a vehicle within New York City are not subject to this [seizure] procedure.

The above “Patrol Guide” instruction was reprinted verbatim almost two years later in the “Patrol Guide” of November 30, 2001. Next, to the Court’s knowledge, as recently as May 19, 2004, with specific august support, “ By direction of the Police Commissioner” as recently as May 19, 2004 readings: “Those limited purposes for which a DCA tow truck license is NOT required are: when such trucks are merely passing though the city, just dropping off or picking up a vehicle for delivery to a point outside the city, just dropping off or picking up a vehicle for delivery to a point outside the City.

This latter Police Department directive was, I observe, written in the course of growing heat over this issue, for on May 13, 2003, Frank J. Rubino, Corporation Counsel of the City of Yonkers wrote: “For at least the past ten years, a reciprocity agreement has existed between the City of Yonkers, the City of New York, and other municipalities within the greater New York City area. This agreement allows tow trucks licensed by one municipality to enter the other municipalities to pickup or drop off automobiles or pass through with or without an automobile in tow. According to our information, since March, 2004. New York City has ceased to honor the reciprocity agreement and has commenced seizing tow trucks licensed in Yonkers.

Against this backdrop, it appears that the DCA—not the police—have for two or three months prior to May, 2004 commenced to ignore the long-standing reciprocity and begun to seize tow trucks which were legitimately licensed in surrounding counties but were within New York City limits and not licensed by the city, and whether or not in fact towing vehicles. The DCA asserts as authority for this the New York City Administrative Code, Title 20, Chapter 2. Section 20-495(d) reading “Towing “ shall mean the driving…of a tow truck.”

When the DCA seizes a tow truck, the owner has to post a $2,000 bond with the DCA if the owner wants to get the truck back immediately. Hearings are required to take place within five days and a decision to be rendered within three days. If the owner is found to have violated the law, the fine is generally $1,000 and approximately $250 in towing and storage fees. Needless to say, this is rather a substantial penalty to a truck owner and particularly if he or she cannot raise the money to bond back the truck and must deal with appearing at the hearing in that five-day period with all the attendant expenses. The cost to out-of-state towers, especially those from far-removed states, (footnote - maintenance costs, hotel and meals and transportation, obviously can add up) could be prohibitively larger. All of this regulation on non-New York State towers could be a substantial impact upon interstate commerce. (footnote - The author of the Amicus Curiae brief before me notes that if every local jurisdiction within which a tow truck might wish to operate in New York could demand licensing decals on the windshield (a) the owner of the truck would spend more of his working days submitting to duplicative inspections and (b) would have so many decals on the windshield that the driver could not see out.) In any event, the situation is made even more troublesome in New York City by the New York City Administrative Code, quoted above, which means that one’s truck is deemed to be “towing” even if one does not have a car in tow.” This, merely driving a four wheel vehicle with a tow lift on it from Westchester through the Bronx and Queens counties through New York City to Nassau County is “towing” and therefore be seizable and subject to all the various penalties. This was conceded by the present DCA Deputy Commissioner to the Court. The exchange is illuminating.

THE COURT: If you wanted to take your tow truck and go from Nassau up to Westchester and just wanted to drive through New York, you could you get seized?

THE WITNESS: Well, you could get seized. What you should know is that the reason the law was written to include such a hypothetical was because what happens is if you stop somebody and the law says it is OK to pass through and stop somebody and say, hey, where is your license, all they’d have to do is say, hey, I am just passing through. I am going to my girlfriend’s in New Jersey or wherever it is. And unless we followed them around, we wouldn’t know they were telling the truth. So the law was written to stop enforcement officers from having to try to prove that this industry wasn’t lying every time you stopped them. (emphasis added by the Court).

This somewhat astonishing explanation completely flies in the face of constitutional protection of having a reasonable or probable cause before property is seized. (footnore- In striking down unconstitutionally broad statutory language, the United States Supreme Court has "long recognized that the government may not "authorize police conduct which trenches upon Fourth Amendment rights, regardless of the labels which it attaches to such conduct," Kolendar v. Lawson 461 U.S. 352, 252n.1 (1983)(Brennan, J. concurring.) The DCA Enforcement Director also addressed this distressing situation as follows: “Prior to the expansion of the definition of include a tow truck equipped to tow, but without a tow, if you saw a tow truck that didn’t have a medallion, you would have to establish that there was a car on hook and you’d actually have to go a little further…before you could take any action… It could take a very long time… anywhere form 45 minutes to two and a half hours… Once the definition changed it became very simple on the inspectors.

It seems to the Court that DCA’s positions above raise two major troublesome constitutional questions that must be resolved: (1) what is the seizure right of a quasi police organization such as the DCA to seize and strip an owner of a possessory right in a vehicle that it not towing anything because the DCA inspector thinks- but need not find- that the driver is lying about just passing through the city and (2) where is the justification to save considerable time and cut a seizure down to a few minutes just because the seizure inspector may now take the position he does not believe the driver. (footnote - This puts into major issue the validity of the New York City Administrative Code which by definition allows an inspector to seize such a vehicle just because it has towing equipment on its back and no city medallion. A highly similar situation was the subject of criticism in Richard's Service Station, Inc. v. Town of Huntington, 361, N.Y.S. 2d, 497 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 19743) at pp. 504-505. Section 54-4(a) of the Town of Huntington law prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle designed and capable to tow other motor vehicles for hire within that portion of the Town of Huntington outside any incorporated village unless a license therefore shall have first been obtained except that tow truck operators from outside the Town of Huntington may enter the Town to remove a motor vehicle from owner's property or auto body establishment as hereinafter defined without a license. The section is so all-encompassing that it would place an unlicensed tow truck from outside of the Town in violation of the law if it were merely passing through the Town of Huntington with or without a motor vehicle in tow and whether on business or not. A non-licensed tow truck from outside the Town may tow a disabled vehicle only from an owner's property or from an auto body establishment. Thus, if a non-resident's motor vehicle became disabled through non-accident he could not hire the services of an unlicensed tower operating from outside of the Town to tow the car out of the Town of Huntington unless it had been first towed by a licensed tower to a body shop in the town. Such result is unreasonable and arbitrary and improperly discriminates against towers outside of the town (Gen. Mun. Law s80)

Further, substantial questions are raised in connection with the Club’s response to the DCA’s commencement of seizures in April and May of this year by setting up “handing-off” spots at the New York county lines where a legitimate New York City tow truck can take a towed vehicle and then transfer further towing to a towing a Westchester destination by a legitimate Westchester towing vehicle. A major concern with this, as the Court sees it, is the scheduling and delays involved, particularly if the towing is necessitated by the cars break down following a Broadway show with a single woman driver, placing her in a possibly lonely and unprotected wait at the New York City border in the wee hours of the night if the pick-up tow is late. Needless to say, the reverse is equally truck if the car owner has gone to a church service in Bronxville and the car must be towed back by a Westchester tower to the hand-off spot to a New York City tower to get it back to the owner’s service station in mid-Manhattan.

The DCA alleges its conduct is all under the umbrella of Ace Autobody & Towing Ltd. V. City of New York, 171 F3d 765 (2d Cir. 1999). I disagree. There the Court was focusing on local safety factors of towers competitively racing to New York City accidents sites, having heard of the accident on an intercepted New York City police radio broadcast or were involved in towing vehicles in New York believed to have been stolen or abandoned, all with safety implications. Ace thus provides no assistance here, for the only contention of DCA in the safety area is that it inspects the towing equipment and not the vehicle and that it checks the criminal records of proposed drivers of tow trucks, possible preventing employment of a former car their or DWI or rapist as a tow truck driver. The inspection DCA speaks of is not of the vehicle itself which is done under auspices of the State of New York, and not by the DCA. Tellingly, when asked how the DCA inspection related to safety, a DCA tow truck inspector who testified before me indicated that it did not.

Question: Do you have any expertise of background inspections of tow truck vehicles to determine whether or not they are safe to be on the roads?

Answer: That was not part of the inspection process.

Accordingly, I only focus on the criminal record investigation (which investigation, I note, North
Hempstead also does) and observe that a follow-up on the employment of the tow truck drivers, is a subject that should be more fully explored at the trial herein and is perhaps severable and should be state-wide.

Given such major questions as raised above, I conclude it is entirely appropriate to consider all issues, not necessarily the foregoing, at a full trial herein in the early fall. (footnote - Should tow trucks be treated as just another kind of truck under overarching state legislation and regulation as are 18-wheelers to farm pick-ups?) Given all the apparent issues on the record before me, I find that most of the risks posed by DCA’s interruption in towing services into and out of most of New York City are to the disabled car owners and that a marked burden on interstate commerce is imposed on towers by the City Code’s broad definition of “towing activity,” and the dubious value of the City licensing scheme with respect to an actual impact on towing safety and financial accountability all satisfy plaintiff’s requirement for showing a risk of irreparable harm and the high standard of success on the merits. Accordingly the preliminary injunction continuing the long-standing Reciprocity Agreement until further order of the Court is granted. The Police Department is to continue to act as it has for years in the past, (see Guides, p.3. supra) and the DCA is hereby enjoined form seizing or otherwise sanctioning legitimate towing vehicles that are owned and operated by legitimate tow companies outside of New York City which are merely picking up or dropping off a vehicle within the City or merely passing through, with or without a vehicle in tow, so long as those towers are duly authorized to conduct towing activity pursuant to late laws and regulations of their own municipalities and in accordance with the motor vehicle laws of the state of New York.” This order in no way affects the city’s right to enforce the licensing scheme as it pertains to the operations of towers engaged in point-to-point towing within the five boroughs, or as it relates to tow trucks whose principal place of business is located in the City of New York.

Dated: New York, New York July 28, 2004
Richard Owen, United States District Judge

IT IS OUR UNDERSTANDING THAT THE CITY OF NEW YORK INTENDS TO APPEAL THIS DECISION. SINCE A TRIAL ON THIS ISSUE WILL HAVE TO BE HELD IN THE FUTURE WE ARE STILL WORKING WITH CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS TO AMEND THE LAW TO STATE THAT NON-RESIDENT TOWERS DO NOT NEED A NYC LICENSE TO PICK UP, DROP OFF OR PASS THROUGH NYC.

WE WILL CONTINUE TO KEEP YOU ADVISED.

Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

Don29Years aka THTDON said:

Great job, as always.

thtdonsig.gif

 

Heffy004 said:

Yes, Richie
Great job & Thanks for the updates.

 

George McRae said:

Thanks Richie,

Very informative.

We know you guys are fighting this fight for all of us.

They need to be stopped and it looks like your getting it done!

I applaud your effort's

George McRae
Pres. VTA

 

TowmasterB said:

Keep up the good work! We are all behind you all the way.

 

datowman said:

thanx for the update richie and keep up the good work.

datowmansig.webp

 

Richie said: August 8, 2004

We had an opportunity to speak with someone in DCA's administration regarding the decision. They believe the decision is wrong. They also called the judge "senile." They believe they will be successful at the next level. I was in Court at each appearance. At each appearance the judge was rational, open minded and saw the City's argument for what it was, baseless.

We believe it's now a matter of egos. Damn the law, they don't wish to lose face. The City's main argument, the citing of the case of "Ace Auto Body" was evaluated by the judge. The judge's interpretation was right on point. The issues in the "Ace Auto Body" case were not the same as in the AAA case.

At this time you may continue entering NYC for the purpose of picking up a vehicle to be delivered "outside" NYC or entering NYC to drop off a vehicle. Passing through is also permissible. If you intend on doing "point-to-point" towing within NYC you are required to have a license. If you are caught doing "point-to-point" towing in NYC, your truck can be seized.

We will continue to keep you advised.
Richie
Metropolitan NY Towing & Auto Body Association

 

Don29Years aka THTDON said:

Ninety nine per cent of us from around the country that will ever have occasion to go to NYC will never tow a car between points within the city. The same is true everywhere else. Although I have 48 state ICC authority, with my MA repair plates, I can tow a car intrastate between any two points, I can tow a car from MA to anywhere in the contiguous United States, provided that I have paid the fees for the individual states on my single state registration sheet, and I can go anywhere in the lower 48 states and get a car and bring it back here to MA. But I am not permitted under our repair plate law to go to NH, for example, and tow a car between points within NH. In order to do that, I would have to have the truck registered in NH. Virtually no one reading this intends to tow cars between points within the borders of NYC. We would just like to go there a fetch a customer's car and bring it home, or tow a car from our area to NYC, if that's where they want to go. Thank you for continuing to follow this story, and keeping us updated.

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