130th Ohio General Assembly
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S. B. No. 274  As Introduced
As Introduced

130th General Assembly
Regular Session
2013-2014
S. B. No. 274


Senator Hughes 

Cosponsor: Senator Patton 



A BILL
To amend sections 4505.101, 4513.60, and 4921.25 and to enact sections 4511.80 and 4513.67 of the Revised Code to authorize towing companies to obtain title to vehicles removed from private tow-away zones that remain unclaimed, to revise the notification process regarding vehicles left unclaimed at a repair garage or place of storage, to establish vehicle owner and lienholder notifications for vehicles removed from a private tow-away zone, to require towing companies to use and display certain identifying information, and to make other changes in the law governing towing motor vehicles.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF OHIO:
Section 1. That sections 4505.101, 4513.60, and 4921.25 be amended and sections 4511.80 and 4513.67 of the Revised Code be enacted to read as follows:
Sec. 4505.101.  (A)(1) The owner of any repair garage or place of storage in which a motor vehicle with a value of less than two thousand five hundred five thousand dollars has been left unclaimed for fifteen days or more following completion of the requested repair or the agreed term of storage may shall send by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the owner a notice to remove the motor vehicle. If the motor vehicle remains unclaimed by the owner for fifteen days after the mailing of the notice, and the person on whose property the vehicle has been abandoned has received the signed receipt from the certified mail or has been notified that the delivery was not possible, the person shall obtain a certificate of title to the motor vehicle in the person's name in the manner provided in this section.
(2) The owner of the repair garage or place of storage that mailed the notice shall execute an affidavit that all of the requirements of this section necessary to authorize the issuance of a certificate of title for the motor vehicle have been met. The affidavit shall set forth the value of the motor vehicle when unclaimed as determined in accordance with standards fixed by the registrar of motor vehicles; the length of time that the motor vehicle has remained unclaimed; the expenses incurred with the motor vehicle; that a notice to remove the vehicle has been mailed to the titled owner, if known, by certified mail, return receipt requested; and that a search of the records of the bureau of motor vehicles has been made for outstanding liens on the motor vehicle.
(3) No affidavit shall be executed or filed under division (A) of this section until after a search of the records of the bureau of motor vehicles has been made. If the research reveals any outstanding lien on the motor vehicle, the owner of the repair garage or place of storage of the motor vehicle shall notify the mortgagee or lienholder by certified mail, return receipt requested, stating where the motor vehicle is located and the value of the vehicle. Unless the mortgagee or lienholder claims the motor vehicle within fifteen days from the mailing of the notice, the mortgagee's mortgage or the lienholder's lien shall be is invalid.
Upon presentation by the owner of the repair garage or place of storage of the affidavit, showing compliance with all requirements of this section to the clerk of courts of the county in which the repair garage or place of storage is located, the (B) The owner of a towing service or storage facility that is in possession of a vehicle may obtain a certificate of title to the vehicle as provided in division (C) of this section if all of the following apply:
(a) The vehicle was towed under division (B)(2) of section 4513.60 of the Revised Code;
(b) The vehicle has a value of less than five thousand dollars;
(c) The vehicle has been left unclaimed for thirty days after the mailing of the notice required by division (D)(2) of section 4513.60 of the Revised Code;
(d) The owner of the towing service or storage facility complies with the affidavit requirements applicable to a repair garage or place of storage under division (A)(2) of this section.
(C) The clerk of courts shall issue a certificate of title, free and clear of all liens and encumbrances, to the owner of the place of storage as follows:
(1) To a repair garage or place of storage that presents an affidavit that complies with all of the requirements of division (A) of this section;
(2) To a towing service or storage facility that presents an affidavit in compliance with division (B) of this section.
The Upon receipt of the certificate of title, a repair garage, place of storage, or towing service or storage facility shall pay to the clerk of courts the value of the motor vehicle, as determined in accordance with standards fixed by the registrar of motor vehicles, less expenses incurred by the owner of such the repair garage or, place of storage, towing service, or storage facility, shall be paid to the clerk of courts for deposit into the county general fund upon receipt of the certificate of title.
(B)(D) Whoever violates this section shall be fined not more than two hundred dollars, imprisoned not more than ninety days, or both.
Sec. 4511.80.  (A) As used in this section, "towing service" means any for-hire motor carrier that is engaged on an intrastate basis anywhere in this state in the business of towing a motor vehicle over any public highway in this state.
(B) No person shall operate a towing vehicle for a towing service and no person who owns a towing vehicle used by a towing service or has supervisory responsibility over a towing vehicle used by a towing service, shall permit the operation of a towing vehicle used by a towing service, unless both of the following apply:
(1) The towing service holds a valid certificate of public convenience and necessity as required by Chapter 4921. of the Revised Code; and
(2) The certificate number is visibly displayed on both the left and right front doors of the towing vehicle in accordance with rules adopted by the public utilities commission.
(C) Whoever violates division (B) of this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor.
(D) Whenever a person is convicted of or pleads guilty to a violation of this section in a court of record, the court shall forward a copy of the conviction record or plea to the public utilities commission of Ohio.
Sec. 4513.60.  (A)(1) The sheriff of a county or chief of police of a municipal corporation, township, or township or joint police district, within the sheriff's or chief's respective territorial jurisdiction, upon complaint of any person adversely affected, may order into storage any motor vehicle, other than an abandoned junk motor vehicle as defined in section 4513.63 of the Revised Code, that has been left on private residential or private agricultural property for at least four hours without the permission of the person having the right to the possession of the property. The sheriff or chief of police, upon complaint of the owner of a repair garage or place of storage, may order into storage any motor vehicle, other than an abandoned junk motor vehicle, that has been left at the garage or place of storage for a longer period than that agreed upon. The place of storage shall be designated by the sheriff or chief of police shall designate the place of storage. When ordering a motor vehicle into storage pursuant to this division, a sheriff or chief of police, whenever possible, shall may arrange for the removal of the motor vehicle by a private tow truck operator or towing company service. Subject to division (C) of this section, the owner of a motor vehicle that has been removed pursuant to this division may recover the vehicle only in accordance with division (E)(F) of this section.
(2) Divisions (A)(1) to (3) of this section do not apply to any private residential or private agricultural property that is established as a private tow-away zone in accordance with division (B) of this section.
(3) As used in divisions (A)(1) and (2) of this section, "private residential property" means private property on which is located one or more structures that are used as a home, residence, or sleeping place by one or more persons, if no more than three separate households are maintained in the structure or structures. "Private residential property" does not include any private property on which is located one or more structures that are used as a home, residence, or sleeping place by two or more persons, if more than three separate households are maintained in the structure or structures.
(B)(1) The owner of private property may establish a private tow-away zone only if all of the following conditions are satisfied:
(a) The owner posts on the owner's property a sign, that is at least eighteen inches by twenty-four inches in size, that is visible from all entrances to the property, and that contains at least all of the following information:
(i) A notice that the property is a private tow-away zone and that vehicles not authorized to park on the property will be towed away;
(ii) The telephone number of the person from whom a towed-away vehicle can be recovered, and the address of the place to which the vehicle will be taken and the place from which it may be recovered;
(iii) A statement that the vehicle may be recovered at any time during the day or night upon the submission of proof of ownership and the payment of a towing charge, in an amount not to exceed ninety dollars, and a storage charge, in an amount not to exceed twelve dollars per twenty-four-hour period; except that the charge for towing shall not exceed one hundred fifty dollars, and the storage charge shall not exceed twenty dollars per twenty-four-hour period, if the vehicle has a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating in excess of ten thousand pounds and is a truck, bus, or a combination of a commercial tractor and trailer or semitrailer.
(b) The place to which the towed vehicle is taken and from which it may be recovered is conveniently located, is well lighted, and is on or within a reasonable distance of a regularly scheduled route of one or more modes of public transportation, if any public transportation is available in the municipal corporation or township in which the private tow-away zone is located.
(2) If a vehicle is parked on private property that is established as a private tow-away zone in accordance with division (B)(1) of this section, without the consent of the owner of the property or in violation of any posted parking condition or regulation, the owner or the owner's agent may remove, or cause the removal of, the vehicle, the owner and the operator of the vehicle shall be deemed to have consented to the removal and storage of the vehicle and to the payment of the towing and storage charges specified in division (B)(1)(a)(iii) of this section, and the vehicle owner, subject to division (C) of this section, may recover a vehicle that has been so removed only in accordance with division (E)(F) of this section.
(3) If a municipal corporation requires tow trucks and tow truck operators to be licensed, no owner of private property located within the municipal corporation shall remove, or shall cause the removal and storage of, any vehicle pursuant to division (B)(2) of this section by an unlicensed tow truck or unlicensed tow truck operator.
(4) Divisions (B)(1) to (3) of this section do not affect or limit the operation of division (A) of this section or sections 4513.61 to 4513.65 of the Revised Code as they relate to property other than private property that is established as a private tow-away zone under division (B)(1) of this section.
(C) If the owner or operator of a motor vehicle that has been ordered into storage pursuant to division (A)(1) of this section or of a vehicle that is being removed under authority of division (B)(2) of this section arrives after the motor vehicle or vehicle has been prepared for removal, but prior to its actual removal from the property, the owner or operator shall be given the opportunity to pay a fee of not more than one-half of the charge for the removal of motor vehicles under division (A)(1) of this section or of vehicles under division (B)(2) of this section, whichever is applicable, that normally is assessed by the person who has prepared the motor vehicle or vehicle for removal, in order to obtain release of the motor vehicle or vehicle. Upon payment of that fee, the motor vehicle or vehicle shall be released to the owner or operator, and upon its release, the owner or operator immediately shall move it so that:
(1) If the motor vehicle was ordered into storage pursuant to division (A)(1) of this section, it is not on the private residential or private agricultural property without the permission of the person having the right to possession of the property, or is not at the garage or place of storage without the permission of the owner, whichever is applicable.
(2) If the vehicle was being removed under authority of division (B)(2) of this section, it is not parked on the private property established as a private tow-away zone without the consent of the owner or in violation of any posted parking condition or regulation.
(D)(1) If an owner of private property that is established as a private tow-away zone in accordance with division (B)(1) of this section or the authorized agent of such an owner removes or causes the removal of a vehicle from that property under authority of division (B)(2) of this section, the owner or agent promptly shall notify the police department of the municipal corporation, township, or township or joint police district in which the property is located, of the removal, the vehicle's license number, make, model, and color, the location from which it was removed, the date and time of its removal, the telephone number of the person from whom it may be recovered, and the address of the place to which it has been taken and from which it may be recovered.
(2) When a vehicle is removed from private property in accordance with division (B)(2) of this section, the owner of the towing service or storage facility from which the vehicle may be recovered immediately shall cause a search to be made of the records of the bureau of motor vehicles to ascertain the identity of the owner and any lienholder of the motor vehicle. Within forty-eight hours of removal of the vehicle from the private tow-away zone, the owner of the towing service or storage facility shall send notice to the vehicle owner and any known lienholder. The towing service or storage facility shall send the notice to the owner's and lienholder's last known address by certified mail with return receipt requested. If the owner or lienholder of the motor vehicle reclaims it after a search of the records of the bureau has been conducted and after notice has been sent to the owner and lienholder as described in this section, the owner or lienholder shall pay to the towing service or storage facility a processing fee of twenty-five dollars, in addition to any expenses or charges incurred in the removal and storage of the vehicle as provided in division (F) of this section.
(E)(1) Each county sheriff and each chief of police of a municipal corporation, township, or township or joint police district shall maintain a record of motor vehicles that the sheriff or chief orders into storage pursuant to division (A)(1) of this section and of vehicles removed from private property in the sheriff's or chief's jurisdiction that is established as a private tow-away zone of which the sheriff or chief has received notice under division (D)(1) of this section. The record shall include an entry for each such motor vehicle or vehicle that identifies the motor vehicle's or vehicle's license number, make, model, and color, the location from which it was removed, the date and time of its removal, the telephone number of the person from whom it may be recovered, and the address of the place to which it has been taken and from which it may be recovered. Any information in the record that pertains to a particular motor vehicle or vehicle shall be provided to any person who, either in person or pursuant to a telephone call, identifies self as the owner or operator of the motor vehicle or vehicle and requests information pertaining to its location.
(3)(2) Any person who registers a complaint that is the basis of a sheriff's or police chief's order for the removal and storage of a motor vehicle under division (A)(1) of this section shall provide the identity of the law enforcement agency with which the complaint was registered to any person who identifies self as the owner or operator of the motor vehicle and requests information pertaining to its location.
(E)(F) The owner of a motor vehicle that is ordered into storage pursuant to division (A)(1) of this section or the owner or lienholder of a vehicle that is removed under authority of division (B)(2) of this section may reclaim it upon payment of any expenses or charges incurred in its removal, in an amount not to exceed ninety dollars, and storage, in an amount not to exceed twelve dollars per twenty-four-hour period; except that the charge for towing shall not exceed one hundred fifty dollars, and the storage charge shall not exceed twenty dollars per twenty-four-hour period, if the vehicle has a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating in excess of ten thousand pounds and is a truck, bus, or a combination of a commercial tractor and trailer or semitrailer. Presentation of proof of ownership, which may be evidenced by a certificate of title to the motor vehicle or vehicle also shall be required for reclamation of the vehicle. If a motor vehicle that is ordered into storage pursuant to division (A)(1) of this section remains unclaimed by the owner for thirty days, the procedures established by sections 4513.61 and 4513.62 of the Revised Code shall apply.
(F)(G) No person shall remove, or cause the removal of, any vehicle from private property that is established as a private tow-away zone under division (B)(1) of this section other than in accordance with division (B)(2) of this section, and no person shall remove, or cause the removal of, any motor vehicle from any other private property other than in accordance with division (A)(1) of this section or sections 4513.61 to 4513.65 of the Revised Code.
(G)(H) Whoever violates division (B)(3) or (F)(G) of this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor.
Sec. 4513.67.  (A) Except as provided in division (B) of this section, when removing a motor vehicle from an accident scene on any street or highway or any other property open to the public for purposes of vehicular travel or parking, a towing service shall submit the invoice for the removal to the person who was operating the motor vehicle at the time of the accident. The towing service shall not, in any circumstance, submit such an invoice to the repair facility or storage facility to which the motor vehicle is transported.
(B) Division (A) of this section does not apply if all of the following are applicable:
(1) The towing service removes a motor vehicle from an accident scene;
(2) The removal is conducted pursuant to a contract between the towing service and the issuer of a policy of motor vehicle insurance covering the motor vehicle; and
(3) The contract requires the towing service to be paid directly by issuer of the policy.
Sec. 4921.25. (A) Any person, firm, copartnership, voluntary association, joint-stock association, company, or corporation, wherever organized or incorporated, that is engaged in the towing of motor vehicles is subject to regulation by the public utilities commission as a for-hire motor carrier under this chapter. Such an entity is not subject to any ordinance, rule, or resolution of a municipal corporation, county, or township that provides for the licensing, registering, or regulation of entities that tow motor vehicles.
(B) No for-hire motor carrier engaged in the towing of motor vehicles shall do any of the following:
(1) Fail to make its current certificate of public convenience and necessity available for public inspection during normal business hours;
(2) Fail to include its certificate number on all advertising, written estimates, contracts, and invoices, in such manner as the public utilities commission shall prescribe by rule;
(3) Fail to display its certificate number on both the left and right front doors of all towing vehicles used by the carrier in such manner as the commission shall prescribe by rule.
Section 2. That existing sections 4505.101, 4513.60, and 4921.25 of the Revised Code are hereby repealed.
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