New Towing Regulations Impacting the Unclaimed Motor Vehicle Affidavit take Effect: March 23rd
ASA Ohio first became involved in this issue in 2012 when the Ohio Department of Public Safety (DPS) implemented a new policy that drastically changed the affidavit process for obtaining a title to an unclaimed vehicle valued under $2,500. Under the new policy, automotive repair garages were prohibited from deducting certain costs (actual repairs, needed repairs, etc.) from the value of the vehicle. These deductions were previously utilized by repair facilities to bring the value of an unclaimed vehicle below $2,500. This change had a profound impact on many repair facilities struggling with removing unclaimed vehicles from their properties because they no longer fell under the $2,500 threshold value. As a result of this change, repair shops were forced to either store the vehicle or go through an expensive and time-consuming court process to obtain titles to vehicles left on their property.
Fortunately, ASA Ohio identified this problem and worked with DPS on drafting administrative rules that would allow repair facilities to deduct the cost associated with repairs done on the vehicle, as well as the estimated cost to repair any disabling condition. Just as the new affidavit was being developed, the Ohio General Assembly began considering legislation calling for an overhaul of Ohio’s towing regulations, which happened to include the unclaimed motor vehicle affidavit process.
While SB 274 (Sen. Hughes) was initially tailored to curb predatory towing practices in Ohio, the legislation was changed to include comprehensive reforms to the towing industry. During this process there was debate about reforming the way repair garages were required to contact vehicle owners and lienholders after a vehicle was left unclaimed. There was also discussion about completely removing the ability to use an affidavit. ASA Ohio was the lead voice ensuring Ohio’s automotive repair professionals were protected throughout this process. ASA Ohio also used this legislation as an opportunity to shine light on the affidavit process. The $2,500 threshold value was developed in the 1990’s and needed to be updated to properly reflect the increasing value of vehicles on the road today. After working with legislators in both the House and the Senate as well as key policy makers in Governor Kasich’s Administration, a compromise was made to increase the threshold value from $2,500 to $3,500. SB 274 was ultimately passed by both chambers and signed by the governor in December. SB 274 also included a provision that would allow repair garages to apply the new threshold value ($3,500 instead of $2,500) on vehicles left unclaimed prior to the bill taking effect. These important changes would not have occurred if it wasn’t for ASA Ohio’s involvement.
While positive changes have been made, ASA Ohio will have to guard against any attempt to change these standards. While the new provisions just took effect, the towing industry and other stakeholders are already calling for legislation to help resolve problems resulting from SB 274’s passage. ASA Ohio will be representing the views Ohio’s automotive repair professionals throughout the entire process.
Click here to download the Unclaimed Motor Vehicle Affidavit Form.
More information about SB 274 and the provisions taking effect on March 23rd can be found through the following link: SB 274 - Towing Reforms