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Friday, December 9, 2022
ArlingtonTowing-reform measure dies in Richmond

Towing-reform measure dies in Richmond

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A measure its patron said would provide more teeth to Virginia’s statutes regulating the towing industry died a perhaps predictable death in the House of Delegates.

Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington-Fairfax) had patroned legislation that would have made violations of state and local towing rules subject to the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. It also would have provided “meaningful civil penalties” for towing malfeasance, the patron said in comments to a subcommittee of the House Committee on Transportation.

“Virginians deserve better,” Lopez said of existing rules relating to trespass towing from private property, which for decades has been a contentious issue in some areas, such as Arlington.

The Lopez bill would have allowed local prosecutors to take the lead in targeting rogue towing. Currently, such action is under the aegis of the state attorney general.

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At the hearing, no supporters of Lopez’s bill turned up in person or online to back it, but an attorney for the towing industry was on hand to oppose it, arguing that there already are plenty of protections for consumers in place.

A majority of the subcommittee agreed; in less than 60 seconds, it dispatched the measure to the 2022 political graveyard on a 4-2 vote.

Earlier in the session, Lopez patroned another towing-related bill, one that would have given drivers a one-hour grace period before they could be towed out of any private lot, and would have set up financial penalties for any towing operator that didn’t follow the rule.

Lopez asked a House subcommittee to yank the measure from consideration rather than vote on it. Subcommittee members obliged.

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