Friday, July 15, 2011

New law on tow trucks passes its first test

Debi Brazzale / Colorado News Agency

A new law making it a crime to interfere with the towing of a vehicle snared its first alleged perp last weekend, resulting in an arrest by the Colorado Springs Police Department.

Dubbed the Allen Rose Tow Truck Safety Act, Senate Bill 260, sponsored by Senate Democratic Majority Leader John Morse, of Colorado Springs, and Rep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, allows towing companies the option of placing a sticker on a car’s window warning the driver of the consequences of attempting to stop the tow—a citation, arrest and a court date.

Ron Archuleta, operations manager for Absolute Towing in Colorado Springs was towing a vehicle from private property when the vehicle owner, a man, came out “ranting and raving,” by Archuleta’s account, and tried to retrieve his vehicle. Archuleta, who knew about the new law, says he pointed to the sticker and informed the man that he was calling the police. The man continued to confront him, says Archuleta, until the police arrived.

Archuleta says he had a copy of the law in his hands that he showed the policewoman, who was apparently unaware of it. After she verified the new provision in the law, the man was arrested and taken away.

Morse, said of the incident that he’s disappointed that the first test of the law had to result in an arrest rather than to serve as a deterrent, but he is nonetheless pleased that it functioned as it was meant to.

“The object of the bill was not to get people charged and arrested, but to prevent situations such as this from escalating into something more serious,” said Morse. “This is exactly the type of situation this was meant for.”

Archuleta, who was an acquaintance of Rose, said he is grateful for the law, particularly the sticker warning car owners, and the added protection it affords tow truck drivers in the course of their work. Archuleta said he’s seen his share of irate car owners and that Sunday’s incident involved the same scenario that Rose encountered.

“We all want to go home at night,” said Archuleta. “I’ve been run over and have landed in the ER on more than one occasion. This gives us a safety net of being able to call the police and say we need help.”

Morse said the drivers are just doing their job, are small business owners and deserve the protection of the law.

“These tow truck drivers are often small businesses—the backbone of our society—performing a service, and they shouldn’t be subjected to harm in the course of doing their job without the protection of the law,” said Morse.