Public wins in court rulings on cell phones, towing

June 9, 2013 

The leaders of the town of Chapel Hill weren’t afraid to step out front on a couple of common sense issues and take action to ban cell phone use while driving and to limit what towing companies could charge people whose vehicles were towed from private lots. In addition to setting a limit of $125, the town required those lots to have signs and forced tow operators to take credit cards and to call police when they removed a car.

Amen, amen, amen. The cell phone ban ought to be nationwide, given the inherent hazards with people conducting distracting conversations while sitting on two tons of moving metal. But the towing limits are inspired. There have been entirely too many reports in cities around the state (including Raleigh) of tow operators hooking up cars and then, even when a person gets to the car before it’s been towed, charging them $100, $150 or more to allow them to take their vehicles.

Do property owners have a right to protect their own parking? Of course. But towing charges have gotten way out of hand in many places, and some drivers have been entirely too quick on the trigger. In overruling Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson of Durham, the appeals court made a wise decision in upholding these ordinances.

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