A tow truck hauls a car.

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Proposal Raises Hope For Drivers Who Can't Afford Tickets

KCBS Radio Morning News
March 19, 2019 - 10:07 am

Drivers who've racked up parking tickets that they can't afford to pay may have one less thing to worry about under legislation proposed by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco). 

Chiu's bill would end the practice of towing cars due to delingquent tickets for low-income drivers. He says that getting towed is frustrating for everyone, but it can be devastating for people with lower incomes and limited savings. 

"If you can't afford to get your car out of a tow yard within 30 days, your car is sold. You lose it and with it the loss of your job," said Chiu, citing figures that say 40 percent of Americans cannot afford to pay if their car is impounded. "You lack access to school or medical care, and in some instances, you lose your only shelter."

Chiu says that while towing is frustrating experience for everyone, it can be devastating to people who are low-income and push them further into poverty.

Bank levies and wage garnishments are alternative ways to enforce the payment of parking tickets without inflicting severe financial harm, Chiu said. 

His proposal makes financial sense for the tow yards and the cities, Chiu said. The cost of storing a car in a pound typically exceeds the price that it fetches when put up for sale, he said. Cities lose about $2,000 for every car towed, he said. 

"Poverty related towing laws don't work for anyone," he said. 

Assembly Bill 516 would provide relief for drivers who have five or more tickets, a registration that is six months out of date or who've left their car on a public street for more than 72 hours. 

The bill is expected to be heard by a policy committee in April.