Able Towing put on probation for violating towing ordinance

A Nashville towing company has been placed on a six-month probation by the city’s Transportation and Licensing Commission for violating parts of the city ordinance on towing.

Able Towing, which was until about a year ago Area Towing, had seven complaints brought before the commission on Sept. 26. Those complaints centered around overcharging, cruising for tows, and unlicensed tow trucks operating under the Area Towing name.

Joey Brown, owner of Play Dance Bar on Church Street, said he had filed two of the complaints. He said the company had been illegally towing vehicles that were parked close to his business and that the tow truck drivers had tried to intimidate him and some of his customers when confronted. He also said that the company had towed the car of one of Play’s bartenders and overcharged him for the tow.

Brown said he was disappointed with the commission’s decision only to put Able Towing on probation.

“The commission told them they did not want to come up in front of them again,” Brown said. “It seems that nobody seems to want to do anything about these companies who claim they are ignorant of the law. Ignorance is no excuse in a court of law.”

Brown added that he felt the towing companies were making a mockery of the commission.

“I’m not sure what the six-month probation means,” he said. “I just wasn’t satisfied with the outcome. They [Able Towing] should have their license revoked.”

Area Towing had its license revoked by the commission in Sept. 2005 due to complaints from citizens about illegal towing. The company, which was owned by Timmy Dee Garrett, was sold the same month to Able Towing, which has been operating under a new license.

Brian McQuistion, executive director of the Metro Transportation and Licensing Commission, said that he’d had about “a half-dozen citizen complaints” on Able Towing over the last year, but only one of those followed the complaint process and showed up at a commission hearing.

Metro ordinance requires that the property owner or his designee call for a tow truck, and sign a tow ticket on each vehicle towed. It also sets limits on how much a company can charge when a vehicle is towed ($65). The companies can also charge a “storage fee” of $15 after two hours on the towing company lot. If the owner of a vehicle catches the tow truck driver before they leave, they must unhook the car from the tow truck for $35.

They must also tow vehicles directly to their tow impound lot – they aren’t allowed to store it at another location – and they must notify Metro Police within one hour of the tow or the car could be considered stolen.

“Companies can’t ‘cruise’ for cars,” McQuistion said in a Sept. 2005 "O&AN" article on Area Towing. “They must be called by the owner of the property that the vehicle is sitting on.”

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