Monday, March 11, 2013

House passes driver protection & accountability package

Putting in extra hours in advance of Wednesday’s house of origin cutoff, the House of Representatives passed several bills relating to enforcement and consumer protection for motorists on Saturday, March 9th.
“It shouldn’t cost a mom or a dad a month of mortgage or rent to get their car back that they need for picking up their children or getting to work,” said Rep. Gerry Pollet in a floor speech on predatory towing rates.

The four pieces of legislation – which protect law-abiding drivers and punish those attempting to break the rules – all passed with strong, bipartisan support.

Here are the bills that were approved by the House of Representatives:

HB 1941 gives drivers who feel that have been inappropriately tolled, fined or assessed the wrong amount the opportunity to appeal the fee before an administrative judge that can actually mitigate the amount owed. Currently the process doesn’t allow much room to lower fines, even when compelling cases have been made that a person wasn’t aware of a tolling bill.

HB 1625 prevents victims of car accidents or parking missteps from being hit a second time by outrageous bills from towing companies, which can wind up cost hundred – even thousands – of dollars. While many towing services keep pricing in line, reports of some towing companies dinging drivers with outrageous rates from storage to non-business hour fees led to a need for reform.

HB 1944 makes it a gross misdemeanor to own or sell a license plating flipping device, which switch between two different license plates with the push of a button. These devices have become increasingly popular as some drivers seek to avoid tickets or tolls. By making them illegal, this legislation will help to ensure that no one is cheating the system.

HB 1946 helps crack down on improper use of disability parking placards. It expands the definition of unauthorized use to include expired or counterfeit placards and makes it illegal to gain a placard through medical misrepresentation. These changes will strengthen the program to ensure that it benefits people with disabilities, not freeloaders.

Read this story in Spanish.