Bill could change tow law to unhook for more drivers

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In order to stop a tow company from taking a car, the driver has to show proof of ownership or registration.

One state lawmaker says this has caused problems for drivers, especially tourists.

“If you were a visitor in Waikiki and you were getting ready to be towed and you came up before they had completed the process of hooking up, the tow company said, well you’re not the legal owner. We’re not going to drop the tow. We’re gonna take it. And then the visitor’s stuck with having to find out where it is, pay the fee, and all of that,” said Sen. Rosalyn Baker, D-South and West Maui.

Baker says this would also apply to anyone who’s borrowing a car from a friend or even a relative. That’s why she introduced SB16 to clarify the definition of “vehicle owner.”

“In this particular section of the statute, it means somebody who has, is the legal or registered owner, somebody who has permission or who is in control of the keys,” she explained.

One tow company KHON2 spoke to says it has some reservations about the bill.

“Once we have care and custody of the vehicle, there’s some very serious consequences if we release it to the wrong person,” said Barnaby Kalikiano Robinson of Ace Towing Company. “We can only deal with what we know and what we can verify and that’s the registration.”

In fact, some drivers are glad the company requires the documents.

“A lot of people are very thankful we do require this type of information and we release it to them versus the wrong person who may be having some kind of problem with the registered or legal owner,” said Robinson.

As for visitors with rental cars, Ace Towing Company says it shouldn’t be a problem.

“If somebody comes here from the mainland or somewhere else and rented a vehicle, as long as their name is on the contract, we should be able to release it to that person,” said Robinson.

The bill passed with amendments and will head to the floor for a third reading.

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