F.C. Towing Law OK

Falls Church City Council members expressed concern Tuesday night that a new ordinance it passed unanimously to more carefully regulate involuntary automobile tows in the City does not ban the practice of “predatory towing.” The new law limits the amount a towing company can charge for the recovery of a towed vehicle to $100, even though a state law passed earlier this year indicated the amount could go as high as $125.

Al Leach of Al’s Towing told the Council that, with no raise above $85 since 1994, a $15 increase over 13 years amounts to “less than zero.” F.C. Police Chief Harry Reitze told the Council there have been 30 tows in the last month in F.C., but some are concerned that, now that a law has been passed, the practice may resume more aggressively whereby scouts are used to identify drivers who park in a retailer’s lot and, even if patronizing that business, subsequently visit a different neighboring store. That is when a scout can alert the towing company, under contract to the retailer, for a swift tow of the car. Nothing in the new law will deter that, F.C. City Attorney Roy Thorpe told the Council. He added there is no limit on how long or short a stay a retailer will permit on his lot.