By Bill Parry
After a sudden uptick in complaints from his constituents who had to pay hefty fines to towing companies after their vehicles were removed from private parking lots, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) took action.
First he authored a pamphlet detailing the rights of automobile owners, which include the fact that if a tow operator removes an improperly parked vehicle, the company cannot charge more than $125 for the removal and the first three days of storage.
Peralta handed out the literature at the Food Bazaar parking lot on Junction Avenue last Friday and the pamphlets are still available in his office.
“The goal of handing out this pamphlet is to ensure drivers know their rights when their cars are being towed by private operators, who at times use intimidating tactics,” Peralta said. “We must ensure these operators act accordingly with the law and don’t rip off or try ti rip off New Yorkers.”
In 2015, more than 1,400 drivers filed complaints with the city, arguing that tow truck operators illegally removed their vehicles, Peralta said. A year earlier, the Legal Aid Society and the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs were able to obtain the return of nearly $30 million in fines and restitution for consumers.
“Simply put, this is about letting the public know about their rights and ways to fight back against abusive predatory towing operators,” Peralta said.
Peralta co-sponsors a Senate bill introduced by state Sen. Jesse Hamilton (D-Brooklyn) and Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) to protect consumers.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr