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Proposed Legislation Would Ban Towing In Some Cases

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Unpaid parking tickets or registration fees, parking your car on a city street for more than three days — these could get you towed and if you can't pay fees, your car might be sold!

New legislation is hoping to ease those worries. AB 516 would ban towing in a handful of cases. The goal is to keep the poor from being penalized.

"They get their cars towed away because they can't afford parking tickets. They get their cars towed away because they can't afford DMV registration," said Michael Herald.

Herald is with the Western Center on Law and Poverty. He is focused on the 46% of Americans who can't afford a $400 emergency bill.

"And then to tow away their car, their main economic asset which they use to earn a living, it's like a punishment. It's like trying to kill a gnat with a sledgehammer," said Herald.

READ: Local Business Owner Telling Customers To Ignore Parking Signs

Herald documented this dilemma in a report called 'Towed into Debt: How California Towing Practices Punish The Poor." California Assemblyman David Chui took that information to heart.

"The fact that we have a law on the books, that tries to collect for these minor debts is literally putting people into a spiral of poverty," said Chui.

He wrote AB 516, which bans towing for things like unpaid parking tickets, unpaid registration, or parking on the street for more than 72 hours when drivers can't afford private parking.

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He feels the legislation will drive cities to pursue other collection mechanisms including affordable payment plans.

"Cities are losing tens of millions of dollars on their towing programs because they are going after folks for minor debts. But they actually aren't collecting for these minor debts," Chui said.

That's because if people can't pay to get their car out of impound lot, the tow company sells it, and the tow company makes the money.

This bill would not impact towing for traffic and public safety enforcement.

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