Beaufort News

Towing regulations move closer to County Council vote

Beaufort County Council members moved proposed tow-truck regulations toward a full council vote Monday after making a few tweaks at the request of towing companies.

About a half-dozen towing personnel gave the council's Governmental Committee input on the draft ordinance and proposed fee caps.

"To me, the prices seem pretty reasonable," said Andy Brown, president of Carolina Auto Trim Inc.

The $75 no-tow fee, to be charged when the automobile owner returns before his vehicle has been loaded on the tow truck, was raised to $100 to account for varied mileage costs -- as some tows cover long distances.

If the wrecker has already loaded the vehicle, that fee would be $150.

Gary Victory, a driver and mechanic with Gur's Wrecker Service, argued that each job is different.

"You guys aren't seeing the whole picture that we have to deal with, as a driver and an operator," he said.

County attorney Lad Howell said he hoped the ordinance would strike a balance over time for towing companies.

"I suspect that there'd be 1,000 scenarios that we could consider," Howell said. "I know that on some occasions it may be inequitable for you, but on the majority of occasions, hopefully, this will be equitable, so that it'll work out in the long run."

The committee lacked a quorum, so no vote was taken, but councilmen agreed to put the ordinance on the May 9 County Council agenda.

The proposed rules follow a Christmas Eve shooting near Bluffton in which a tow-truck driver is accused of killing a man who argued to have an immobilizing wheel device removed from his minivan.

Towing regulation was briefly discussed Monday by Hilton Head Island's Public Safety Committee.

Maj. Marvin Morrison, Sheriff's Office enforcement division commander, said adopting an ordinance for the island similar to the county's would provide enforcement consistency.

Town attorney Brian E. Hulbert suggested the committee wait for the county to approve an ordinance before acting.

"It's too early to know yet what to do," he said.

Staff writer Cassie Foss contributed to this report.