SAN ANTONIO - A judge has ordered San Antonio police to stop ticketing towing companies for over-charging you. The temporary restraining order has halted a crackdown on towing companies that began with an investigation by News 4 WOAI Trouble Shooter Jaie Avila.
Some towing companies are continuing to charge close to $300 when your car is towed, even though a city ordinance says they can only charge $85. The judge ruled police cannot enforce that price cap until there's a hearing early next month.
After a series of Trouble Shooter reports on towing practices, the police department started enforcing a city ordinance already on the books which limits the tow fee to $85.
One company, Bexar Towing, which is also known as Roadside Recovery Specialists, refused to lower its price. In just the first two weeks police wrote Bexar Towing more than 400 citations for over-charging.
Bexar Towing then sued the city, and Judge David Burchelmann granted a temporary restraining order that keeps police from enforcing the ordinance until a hearing on June 4th.
“During the time period that the restraining order is in effect, we will not be writing citations”, said San Antonio Police Chief William McManus.
McManus and City Attorney Michael Bernard both told News 4 WOAI they believe the towing ordinance will be upheld at the court hearing.
“I think it's a good ordinance for San Antonio, I think it's fair, I think that the people of San Antonio deserve such an ordinance. There’ve been predatory practices by many of the towing companies and I think that this ordinance is a safeguard against those predatory practices”, McManus said.
Bexar Towing did not return our call, but the San Antonio Towing Association has said enforcing the $85 towing ordinance will put many companies out of business.
“We have asked, and continue to ask, to participate in creating regulation that is fair and doesn't cause devastation to our businesses”, said Liz Johnson, President of the San Antonio Towing Association.
Chief McManus says once the restraining order is lifted, police can go back and write tickets for any over-charging that's going on right now. So, if you are charged more than $85 for a tow, he says hold on to your receipt, call this number, 207-SAPD, and file a report. Any complaints will be investigated by the department’s Vehicle Crimes Unit.