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The Florida Statutes

The 2017 Florida Statutes

Title XXIII
MOTOR VEHICLES
Chapter 323
WRECKER OPERATORS
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F.S. 323.002
323.002 County and municipal wrecker operator systems; penalties for operation outside of system.
(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Authorized wrecker operator” means any wrecker operator who has been designated as part of the wrecker operator system established by the governmental unit having jurisdiction over the scene of a wrecked or disabled vehicle.
(b) “Unauthorized wrecker operator” means any wrecker operator who has not been designated as part of the wrecker operator system established by the governmental unit having jurisdiction over the scene of a wrecked or disabled vehicle.
(c) “Wrecker operator system” means a system for the towing or removal of wrecked, disabled, or abandoned vehicles, similar to the Florida Highway Patrol wrecker operator system described in s. 321.051(2), under which a county or municipality contracts with one or more wrecker operators for the towing or removal of wrecked, disabled, or abandoned vehicles from accident scenes, streets, or highways. A wrecker operator system shall include using a method for apportioning the towing assignments among the eligible wrecker operators through the creation of geographic zones, a rotation schedule, or a combination of these methods.
(2) In any county or municipality that operates a wrecker operator system:
(a) It is unlawful for an unauthorized wrecker operator or its employees or agents to monitor police radio for communications between patrol field units and the dispatcher in order to determine the location of a wrecked or disabled vehicle for the purpose of driving by the scene of such vehicle in a manner described in paragraph (b) or paragraph (c). Any person who violates this paragraph commits a noncriminal violation, punishable as provided in s. 775.083, and the person’s wrecker, tow truck, or other motor vehicle that was used during the offense may be immediately removed and impounded pursuant to subsection (3).
(b) It is unlawful for an unauthorized wrecker operator to drive by the scene of a wrecked or disabled vehicle before the arrival of an authorized wrecker operator, initiate contact with the owner or operator of such vehicle by soliciting or offering towing services, and tow such vehicle. Any person who violates this paragraph commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, and the person’s wrecker, tow truck, or other motor vehicle that was used during the offense may be immediately removed and impounded pursuant to subsection (3).
(c) When an unauthorized wrecker operator drives by the scene of a wrecked or disabled vehicle and the owner or operator initiates contact by signaling the wrecker operator to stop and provide towing services, the unauthorized wrecker operator must disclose in writing to the owner or operator of the vehicle his or her full name and driver license number, that he or she is not the authorized wrecker operator who has been designated as part of the wrecker operator system, that the motor vehicle is not being towed for the owner’s or operator’s insurance company or lienholder, whether he or she has in effect an insurance policy providing at least $300,000 of liability insurance and at least $50,000 of on-hook cargo insurance, and the maximum charges for towing and storage which will apply before the vehicle is connected to the towing apparatus. The unauthorized wrecker operator must also provide a copy of the disclosure to the owner or operator in the presence of a law enforcement officer if such officer is at the scene of a motor vehicle accident. Any person who violates this paragraph commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, and the person’s wrecker, tow truck, or other motor vehicle that was used during the offense may be immediately removed and impounded pursuant to subsection (3).
(d) At the scene of a wrecked or disabled vehicle, it is unlawful for a wrecker operator to falsely identify himself or herself as being part of the wrecker operator system. Any person who violates this paragraph commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, and the person’s wrecker, tow truck, or other motor vehicle that was used during the offense may be immediately removed and impounded pursuant to subsection (3).
(3)(a) A law enforcement officer from any local governmental agency or state law enforcement agency may cause to be immediately removed and impounded from the scene of a wrecked or disabled vehicle, at the unauthorized wrecker operator’s expense, any wrecker, tow truck, or other motor vehicle that is used in violation of any provision of subsection (2). The impounded wrecker, tow truck, or other motor vehicle must be stored at an authorized law enforcement impound yard. The unauthorized wrecker operator shall be assessed a cost recovery fine as provided in paragraph (b) by the authority that ordered the immediate removal and impoundment of the wrecker, tow truck, or other motor vehicle. A wrecker, tow truck, or other motor vehicle that is removed and impounded pursuant to this section may not be released from an impound or towing and storage facility before a release form is completed by the authority that ordered the immediate removal and impoundment of the wrecker, tow truck, or other motor vehicle which verifies that the cost recovery fine has been paid to the authority. The vehicle must remain impounded until the fine is paid or until the vehicle is sold at public sale pursuant to s. 713.78.
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the unauthorized wrecker operator, upon retrieval of the wrecker, tow truck, or other motor vehicle removed or impounded pursuant to this section, and in addition to any other penalties that may be imposed for noncriminal violations, shall pay a cost recovery fine of $500 for a first violation of subsection (2), or a fine of $1,000 for each subsequent violation of subsection (2), to the authority that ordered the immediate removal and impoundment of the wrecker, tow truck, or other motor vehicle. Cost recovery funds collected under this subsection shall be retained by the authority that ordered the removal and impoundment of the wrecker, tow truck, or other motor vehicle and may be used only for the enforcement, investigation, prosecution, and training related to towing violations and crimes involving motor vehicles.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law and in addition to the cost recovery fine required by this subsection, a person who violates any provision of subsection (2) shall pay the fees associated with the removal and storage of the unauthorized wrecker, tow truck, or other motor vehicle.
(4) This section does not prohibit, or in any way prevent, the owner or operator of a vehicle involved in an accident or otherwise disabled from contacting any wrecker operator for the provision of towing services, whether the wrecker operator is an authorized wrecker operator or not.
History.s. 3, ch. 98-324; s. 73, ch. 2012-181; s. 65, ch. 2013-160; s. 62, ch. 2014-17; s. 37, ch. 2014-216.