Local News

Chapel Hill moves ahead with towing rules, delays cellphone ban

Posted June 17, 2013

Town of Chapel Hill Logo

— A ban on using cellphones while driving in Chapel Hill will be delayed until Oct. 1, town leaders said Monday.

The delay is needed to conduct an awareness campaign for drivers and wait on the outcome of potential litigation, officials said.

The town adopted the cellphone ban in March 2012, but the ordinance never took effect because towing company operator George King challenged them.
King also sued over towing regulations that Chapel Hill passed in February 2012 to cut down on complaints about predatory towing.

Those rules require tow zones to be properly marked, set fees towing companies can charge, require them to accept credit or debit card payment, mandate that they inform police before towing any vehicle and prohibit impound lots from being located more than 15 miles from town.

King argued that the combination of the two ordinances would harm his business, saying that his drivers would be cited for using a cellphone in responding to calls from people seeking to recover their towed cars.

Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson threw out both ordinances last year, backing the sentiment of King's attorney that Chapel Hill couldn't arbitrarily regulate the towing industry.

But the state Court of Appeals reversed the ruling earlier this month, saying Hudson was wrong in that King hadn't shown any harm from either ordinance.

Town leaders said they want to see whether the state Supreme Court will hear King’s his case before implementing the cellphone ban. However, the towing ordinance will become effective June 24.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • RDcallsit Jun 21, 2013

    i sat in my car at mcdonalds recently waiting with 6 other cars for a tow driver to harness his catch, a working vehicle with tools and such... he finally pulled out with the vehicle and left. while inside just beginning to eat my meal, I heard a man (a customer) who'd just walked out speaking a little loudly to the counter person, do you know where my car is? I walked over and said I'd just waited for a tow truck to pull a white vehicle truck whatever and he immediately said that's MY truck!! he'd done all of come inside and ordered lunch and ate, and while he did this his WORK TRUCK ON A FRIDAY AFTERNOON was towed without warning, nothing. the cashier said there was no manager on duty at MCDONALDS that day and that no one could help him. I'm just standing there. this same very exact thing happened to me 10 years ago at the same MCDONALDS on Franklin Street, pulled in, parked, stood in line while my car was towed. cost me $110. seems not much has changed chapel hill. this is so wrong.

  • albegadeep Jun 18, 2013

    I don't think anyone is arguing that illegally-parked vehicles shouldn't be towed; the rules say towing costs should be reasonable and that the towing policy should be clearly posted. Makes perfect sense to me.

  • jenjengirl89 Jun 18, 2013

    "some kid’s school tuition & book money"

    Can we assume that by the time a "kid" (18 year old adult) reaches a state university, they are able to read and comprehend signs explaining parking restrictions? If they can read and comprehend, then they are just selfish fools when they park there anyway and assume there will be no consequenses.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jun 18, 2013

    Some call it "predatory towing" and "exhorbitant towing fees", but I call it "big profit" for me.

    I charge $350 per tow +(PLUS)+ $2 for every mile to my Greensboro impound lot +(PLUS)+ $100 per day storage.

    I'm getting over $500 per tow. How sweet is that?

    How dare they limit my private towing business!! I’ll just call my Republican friends to get these pesky Liberals off my back, so I can keep my profits. I mean, my profit is certainly much more important than some kid’s school tuition & book money. Puh-lease.


  • albegadeep Jun 18, 2013

    The towing rules seem to be written to protect consumers from getting towed when there's not a 'towing' sign, getting charged $20/mile for a 50-mile tow, and having to pay in cash. This would only hurt his business if he's currently screwing the people he's towing.

    And why would his *drivers* be getting phone calls from towed vehicles' owners? Does he not have an office to take those calls?

  • Offshore Jun 18, 2013

    Where are the protestors or is it not politically correct to protest in the liberal utopia.

    LOL, maybe they're in Raleigh...

  • Offshore Jun 18, 2013

    Why don't the tow truck drivers go to bluetooth/handsfree phone? Or, go back to 2 way radios with a dispatcher at the towing company?
    I feel for the LEO's in Chapel Hill. They have to deal with this type of junk on a daily basis.

  • tatermommy52 Jun 18, 2013

    Where are the protestors or is it not politically correct to protest in the liberal utopia.

  • ccsloop Jun 18, 2013

    One thing about the towing rules as I understand them is that one has to post signs every 12 feet or so within the lot. If true that is ridiculous. Signs of the proper size and with proper size lettering at all entrances should be sufficient. You shouldn't have to babysit those who can't/won't read posted signs. Next thing is you will have to post people at the entrances, then call the people before you tow them. I happen to know George King and while he will tow you quickly from his contract lots, the signs areposted in accordance with the exsitng laws.

  • Bartmeister Jun 18, 2013

    Sounds like the cell phone ban isn't done yet.