10 Investigates Hillsborough Co. overnight tow rules

Hillsborough County talks towing ordinance

Our 10 Investigation into illegal overnight towing is making waves in Hillsborough County Wednesday morning.

County leaders plan to crack down on tow truck drivers not following the laws meant to protect you.

Can you imagine someone, who has had too much to drink, getting behind the wheel of their car for fear their vehicle would be towed? 10Investigates found out that was happening frequently outside bars and restaurants across Tampa Bay because tow trucks drivers were breaking the law.

Tow trucks are supposed to be banned from towing cars between 9PM and noon, but it wasn't until our stories aired that Tampa city leaders noticed they weren’t following the rules.

Wednesday, Hillsborough County Commissioners will discuss better enforcement and signage to make sure the law is being followed, and these changes are a direct result of our investigations.

In our series, we found in just one parking lot alone-- at 533 South Howard Avenue- 270 vehicles were towed within one year. Most of those tows happened between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m., long before noon, like the law here in Tampa states.

The law is supposed to discourage drunk driving, and it has been on the books for years, but we found out property owners, tow truck companies and even some city leaders didn't know it existed.

Many drivers told us they ended up making a questionable decision to drive home, despite having been drinking, because they were afraid their car would be hauled off.

Pinellas and Pasco Counties have also created new laws to halt overnight towing. They’ve also included new rules to force tow truck companies to accept debit and credit cards, and not solely accept cash from drivers hoping to retrieve their vehicles.

Local leaders are crediting the 10 Investigates series for keeping drunk drivers off the road.
 

(© 2016 WTSP)


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