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Thursday, April 18, 2024

There's a new bill of rights in town.

This one has nothing to do with freedom of speech, the right to bear arms (grizzly or polar?) or … whatever the rest of them are. This bill of rights is about towing.

The Gainesville City Commission discussed the idea last month, and the bill of rights was written. The commission will refer back to it in November.

Finally, the towing companies will have to start following the rules that are already in place.

With recent separate incidents of a towing company trying to charge someone to view digital photos of his illegally parked car and refuse someone else a credit card payment, it's about time we have a bill of rights to point at in the towing offices if companies try to charge outlandish fees.

The bill of rights would require towing companies to release your vehicle within an hour after you request it, as long as your fees are paid. But you could retrieve any of your personal property from your vehicle before you pay the fees. Hey, as long as you can get your favorite CD out, who needs the actual car?

One point on the list states no fee can be charged for using a credit card, but one can be assessed if you use your debit card. While we don't think companies should be able to charge a fee for debit cards at all, the bill of rights says nothing about how much that fee can be. The commission should impose a maximum fee.

Another problem is that towing companies have citations piling up - the three biggest offenders shared 100 violations among the three of them. But they won't have to start paying the fines associated with the violations unless they are convicted of them. The earliest they could be taken to trial is December.

The city should look into ways to speed this process up. Then, once the companies have to pay fines, the number of violations will go down - and hopefully, fewer cars will be towed.

Sounds like a win-win situation to us.

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