New Mississippi law takes aim at predatory towing; praised by trucking

Updated Apr 23, 2024
Tow truck with heavy-duty truck

Mississippi now has a law cracking down on a growing problem in the trucking industry: predatory towing aimed at heavy-duty trucks.

Gov. Tate Reeves Friday, April 19, signed into law a bill passed unanimously in the state Senate and overwhelmingly by the state House of Representatives.

Predatory towing entails any incident in which a towing operator severely overcharges; illegally seizes assets; damages assets by use of improper equipment; or illegitimately withholds release of a truck, trailer and/or cargo.  

Mississippi’s new law, which was drafted with recommendations from the Mississippi Trucking Association and the Mississippi Towing Association, creates an advisory committee that will set maximum towing rates, establish a process to resolve complaints and disputes over invoices and take other actions to fight predatory behaviors. It will also protect reputable towing companies by rooting out bad actors.

Trucking organizations have been quick to praise the new legislation.

“Predatory towing is an egregious practice that not only disrupts our state’s supply chain, but also costs Mississippi truck owners thousands of dollars for each unwanted tow,” said Mississippi Trucking Association President Hal Miller.  “We are grateful to Mississippi legislators for listening to our concerns about this unfair tactic, and we thank Governor Reeves for swiftly signing this bill into law.  We look forward to our continued partnership with our state’s leaders on commonsense reforms that promote justice, fairness and safety.”

There was a similar reaction from one of the nation's largest trucking advocacy groups.

“Predatory towing companies that hold equipment and cargo hostage with inflated, excessive and fraudulent invoices tarnish the reputation of the entire towing sector. They have taken advantage of the trucking industry for far too long, and we refuse to continue making these ransom payments any longer,” said American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear. “ATA’s federation of state associations is prepared to fight back against unscrupulous companies that target our industry by injecting more accountability and fairness in state and local laws pertaining to towing.”

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According to a recent study by the American Transportation Research Institute, the most common types of predatory towing are excessive rates, experienced by 82.7% of motor carriers, and unwarranted extra service charges, experienced by 81.8% of carriers. A majority of carriers encountered additional issues such as truck release or access delays, cargo release delays, truck seizure without cause and tows misreported as consensual.