Driver and Personal Property Rights Protected By New Law
AAA: Vehicle owners protected from predatory practices by some tow companies
WILMINGTON, DE – August 17, 2021 – Delawareans now have more protection of their property rights thanks to a new law signed by Governor John C. Carney. House Bill 223, sponsored by State Representative Edward S. Osienski, gives vehicle owners access to their personal belongings in the vehicle while the vehicle itself may be held by the tow operator.
“House Bill 223 will mean a lot to folks caught in a tough situation and give them protection over their property,” said Governor Carney. “I want to thank Representative Osienski and AAA for their leadership on this legislation.”
"It's stressful enough to have your car towed and go through the ordeal of getting it back, including the sometimes substantial fees and fines that have to be paid. But just because your vehicle has been impounded doesn't mean you should lose the important items and personal belongings in the car until you pay up," said Rep. Ed Osienski, D-Newark, the lead sponsor of HB 223. "This bill is about being fair to people caught in a tough situation, especially those families who don't have the means to simply write a check and quickly retrieve a towed vehicle. Thank you to AAA for bringing this issue to our attention, and to Governor Carney for signing HB 223 into law."
The legislation was prompted by the experience of a couple in Northern Delaware who were refused access to personal records, files, and clothing in their vehicle when they couldn’t afford the $2,400 in tow and storage fees to retrieve the car.
The issue was resolved weeks later after a variety of state agencies and AAA got involved, but the experience demonstrated the need for Delaware’s State Code to better define the property rights of vehicle owners to protect them from predatory towing practices.
"This is an issue that has caused significant suffering for individuals, families, and veterans throughout Delaware,” said Sarah Spangler Rhine, Policy Director for Housing Alliance Delaware. “With this bill being signed into law, individuals will have rights to their possessions, parents will be able to keep their car seats for their children, and veterans will be able to keep their belongings, regardless of the disposition of their vehicle.”
“This is an important step in protecting the property rights of everyone, especially those most vulnerable. AAA appreciates Rep. Osienski’s leadership on this issue, the unanimous approval of the General Assembly and the support of Governor Carney,” said Ken Grant, Public and Government Affairs Manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to more than 62 million members nationwide and more than one hundred fifty thousand members in Delaware. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a non-stock, membership corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can map a route, access a COVID travel restriction map, find local gas prices and electric vehicle charging stations, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information on joining or renewing a Membership, visit www.AAA.com.