District-area residents get relief from aggressive towing

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) -- Maryland congressman Chris Van Hollen says legislation signed by President Barack Obama this week is a victory for motorists against predatory tactics of towing companies on the prowl to confiscate illegally parked vehicles.
The legislation sponsored by Van Hollen and fellow Democrat Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia gives local governments the authority to regulate towing companies.
Van Hollen says local jurisdictions now have clear authority to end egregious towing fees, ban the practice of `spotting,' which involves staking out private parking lots and towing cars in the blink of an eye, and mandate proper signage.
Officials say Congress in 1994 inadvertently pre-empted the ability of state and local governments to regulate the towing industry. 
Beyer and Van Hollen's towing legislation was passed as an amendment to a highway reauthorization bill.
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