WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – Many of the hazards and costs of motor vehicle offenses are obvious but one expense –the cost to reclaim a vehicle from the police impound yard – can be a rude surprise to motorists.
Vehicles which are apparently roadworthy often must be towed,, for example if the operator is found to have a suspended license or if the vehicle’s registration is revoked, and the expense of the tow is the responsibility of the owner.
For about the past decade, Michael’s Towing on Clifton Street has had the contract with the city to provide towing services for vehicles which must be removed from the roadways by police mandate but the company does not set the rate for towing.
Tony Militello, a driver for the company, explained that the basic cost of towing a car in the city is comprised of three elements which add up $120. The biggest bite, $90, is set by the state, Militello said, and an additional $25 goes to the city. The last $5 is a fuel surcharge. Militello said that the charge is actually a fluctuating percentage (currently 5.2 per cent) of the towing fee and the mileage cost but, he said, “in town we just go with a flat $5.”
He said that his company does not charge a separate mileage fee for vehicles towed within the city limits but, for vehicles towed to destinations outside the city, a $3 fee per mile is charged for the tow truck’s round trip.
In addition to the actual towing charge, owners of vehicles towed to the Clifton Street impound yard are also assessed a $35 storage fee for each 24-hour period, or part thereof, that the vehicle is stored.
In many cases the storage fee can be avoided by having the vehicle towed to the owner’s home but that is not always an option, Militello said. First, the operator must be able to pay the towing fee, on the spot, in cash or by credit card. No checks are accepted by Michael’s, Militello said. In addition, he said, residents who rent their homes may not have a vehicle towed there unless they can contact their landlord, at the time of the tow, and get permission from the property owner to tow their vehicle there.
Many times vehicles are towed because the registration is expired. Although many motorists now can use a smartphone to go online and renew their vehicle’s registration from the side of the road, if they do not have that technology, or if the registration is revoked, a city ordinance gets in the way of a tow to the owner’s home.
Westfield has a city ordinance prohibiting an unregistered vehicle from being displayed at a residence so, Capt. Hipolito Nunez explained, if an unregistered vehicle cannot be covered at a residence it may not be towed there. And, if the operator is taken into custody, even if the vehicle could be covered at his or her home, it may not be towed there because it would not be attended.
Nunez said that if the police order a vehicle to be towed and the owner cannot care for it because he or she is in custody, the police retain responsibility for the vehicle so it must be towed to the secure impound facility.
Media Credit: The Westfield News
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