Changes to towing ordinance aimed at protecting lives

Posted at 11:19 PM, Aug 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-24 01:58:31-04

People in Pinellas County will soon notice changes to the county's towing ordinance; those changes are aimed at stopping drinking and driving.

Starting October 1, if you leave your car parked at a business that has a license to sell alcohol because you cannot drive after a night of partying, tow companies need a written consent before they can tow your car.

Tuesday evening, the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners agreed on the new changes. If you drink at the business and park your car in their lot, between 9 p.m. and 12 p.m. the next day you may not be towed without permission.

"You don't want to give the misperception that you're safe to park there and couldn't get towed. It's just that additional layer of written authorization to be obtained by a representative or property owner before the car can just be towed," Doug Templeton, operations manager with consumer protection, said.

Templeton said their county is following ordinances other cities and counties have in place.

"The goal is to enhance public safety. Certainly again, (this is going to) provid(e) an additional layer to reduce the incentive for individuals to drive while intoxicated," Templeton said.

Under the new ordinance, people can now use a debit or credit card as a form of payment if their car is towed. Currently, you are only allowed to pay with cash. According to Templeton, the tow company will now be able to charge up to 3 percent on top of the towing fee, if you use a debit or credit card.

Also under the new ordinance, people can get items out of their car for free during normal business hours -even if they do not have enough money to get their car out after it has been towed. There will be a fee for people, who need to get items from their car, if it is after business hours.

The county commissioners approved the changes to the towing ordinance, but they plan to discuss towing fees at another time.