House approves Rep. Harmsworth’s bill changing towing regulations

A bill changing towing company regulations that allows the sale of a vehicle if the registered owner is unable pick it up received unanimous approval by the state House Tuesday.

House Bill 2058, introduced by 44th District Rep. Mark Harmsworth, would help owners admitted to the hospital after a vehicle accident by changing current procedures of recovering their vehicle once it has been towed. Current state law requires the registered owner to sign off on releasing a vehicle. If the owner is not able to be there in-person, they must provide something in writing authorizing the release. This is not always possible if the owner is in the hospital with injuries due to an accident, unable to respond or sign a release.

“The root problem is there’s no flexibility in the system for situations in which the owner is unable to respond because of a medical problem,” said Harmsworth. “It seems ridiculous something like this can happen. But, we have a case where the vehicle was sold by the tow company while the owner was in the hospital, unconscious and unable to sign the necessary paperwork. Her friend was turned away when she attempted to pay the fees and pick up the vehicle.”

With a hold period of 21-days, two letters to the registered owner must be sent before selling a vehicle. If it is unclaimed, not listed as stolen, or held by law enforcement, it can be sold. The tow company is given the legal authority to conduct a sale of the vehicle at public auction within 15-days of mailing the final notice.

Harmsworth’s legislation would address situations in which a person is in the hospital and unable to respond to the notice from the towing company. After completing a sworn affidavit with the Washington State Department of Licensing, a third party would be allowed to pick up the vehicle from the tow company. All storage and towing fees would need to be paid in full prior to the vehicle’s release.

House Bill 2058 now heads to the Senate for further consideration.



Washington State House Republican Communications