The Arkansas Towing & Recovery Board serves as the state regulatory agency for the tow and recovery industry. The Arkansas Towing & Recovery Board is the licensing agency for tow businesses domiciled in the State of Arkansas permitting all tow vehicles used for hire by those businesses. In addition the agency is the primary enforcement and investigative body charged with ensuring compliance with the states statutes and rules promulgated by the Arkansas Towing & Recovery Board and the disposition of consumer complaints.
A BRIEF HISTORY
The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Regulatory Review Panel commissioned by the US Congress in 1984 determined that Arkansas along with 30 other states failed to comply with federal regulations relating to certain commercial vehicles, specifically wreckers (tow vehicles).
- The Arkansas legislature created the Board of Wrecker Operators in 1987, Act 42 of 1987 to ensure compliance.
- Act 899 of 1989 Created the Arkansas Towing & Recovery Board repealing Act 42 of 1987.
- Act 33 of 1991 placed the regulation and safety of wreckers under the highway commission.
- Act 1000 of 1993 established comprehensive laws to provide for the removal of abandoned vehicles, licensing requirements and tow operations, the possessory lien and administrative procedures and established the towing and recovery board.
Subsequent legislation restored the agency as an independent regulatory body, (no longer under the highway commission), strengthened the criminal provisions, clarified the possessory lien law and notification process as well as the consumer protection provisions creating the agency as it exists today.
THE TOW BOARD TODAY
The Arkansas Towing & Recovery Board is governed by nine (9) members appointed by the governor to three (3) year terms. The make-up of the board consists of four (4) members that are non-consent tow owners, two (2) members are consent-only tow owners, one (1) representative is appointed from the insurance industry and two (2) persons are appointed at large, not associated with the tow industry.
The tow board employs a professional, experienced staff dedicated to working with the tow industry and the motoring public. The staff is assisted by a representative from the Attorney General’s office who serves as the agency’s legal counsel.
WHO MUST LICENSE WITH THE ARKANSAS TOWING & RECOVERY BOARD
In general if you engage in towing and recovery within the State of Arkansas you must license your business and permit your tow vehicles with this agency.
A license may be obtained by complying with the requirements found in the statute for a tow business, completing the Business License Application and submitting the appropriate fees to the tow board.
A tow business must:
- Be at a location that is easily accessible to the public and located in Arkansas.
- Maintain a secure filing system for record keeping
- Display signage with the company name, physical address, telephone number(s) and hours of operation. Signs must be at least 4’x6’ or meet local building codes or sign ordinance standards.
- A 16”x20” sign posted in a pubic area notifying customers of the complaint process.
- Your maximum rate schedule must be posted in a conspicuous place.
- All vehicles must be stored in a manner that protects a customer’s vehicle and personal property while in the care and custody of the tow facility.
The permit process for a tow vehicle requires an inspection by a certified law enforcement officer. The Tow Vehicle Safety Equipment Inspection Form must be completed, signed by the law enforcement officer and the owner of the tow company. The appropriate fees must be paid to the agency before a permit is issued.
Once approved the appropriate decal must be placed on the windshield of the tow vehicle. Decals or permits may not be transferred from the tow vehicle to which it was issued.
THE CONSUMER COMPLAINT PROCESS
Most complaints can be resolved through simple communication, an understanding of what occurred during the tow and recovery of a vehicle and of course reasonable, fair invoicing for the services provided.
Unfortunately there are disputes that require a third party. This agency prides itself in the quick, equitable resolution of most consumer complaints within 45 days. Any vehicle owner, lien holder, insurance company or law enforcement officer may file a formal complaint with the Arkansas Towing & Recovery Board by filling out a simple form.
The complaint process begins with a telephone call. Any party who has a vested interest in the towed vehicle believing that there has been an overcharge for the services provided or did not receive proper notice when their vehicle was impounded or towed should first call the tow board office. Our knowledgeable staff will answer any questions you may have and guide you through the complaint process.
The board employees field investigators that are experienced in negotiation and complaint resolution. Often a complaint can be resolved before a formal complaint is filed. If a violation of a statute or a rule has occurred a tow company may be offered a Consent Agreement that can include civil penalties and/or restitution to the vehicle owner, lien holder or insurance company.
If a more serious violation has occurred staff may recommend the tow company appear before the board for a disciplinary hearing where again civil penalties may be assessed and/or restitution. Or a tow company may disagree with the staff assessment asking for a hearing to resolve the complaint.