Section 321.051, Florida Statutes 2001
321.051 Florida Highway Patrol wrecker operator system; penalties for operation outside of system.--
(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) "Authorized wrecker operator" means any wrecker operator who has been designated by the Division of Florida Highway Patrol as part of the wrecker operator system.
(b) "Unauthorized wrecker operator" means any wrecker operator who has not been designated by the division as part of the wrecker operator system.
(2) The Division of Florida Highway Patrol of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is authorized to establish within areas designated by the patrol a wrecker operator system using qualified, reputable wrecker operators for removal and storage of wrecked or disabled vehicles from a crash scene or for removal and storage of abandoned vehicles, in the event the owner or operator is incapacitated or unavailable or leaves the procurement of wrecker service to the officer at the scene. All reputable wrecker operators shall be eligible for use in the system provided their equipment and drivers meet recognized safety qualifications and mechanical standards set by rules of the Division of Florida Highway Patrol for the size of vehicle it is designed to handle. The division is authorized to limit the number of wrecker operators participating in the wrecker operator system, which authority shall not affect wrecker operators currently participating in the system established by this section. The division is authorized to establish maximum rates for the towing and storage of vehicles removed at the division's request, where such rates have not been set by a county or municipality pursuant to s. 125.0103 or s. 166.043. Such rates shall not be considered rules for the purpose of chapter 120; however, the department shall establish by rule a procedure for setting such rates. Any provision in chapter 120 to the contrary notwithstanding, a final order of the department denying, suspending, or revoking a wrecker operator's participation in the system shall be reviewable in the manner and within the time provided by the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure only by a writ of certiorari issued by the circuit court in the county wherein such wrecker operator resides.
(3)(a) It is unlawful for an unauthorized wrecker operator or its employees or agents to monitor police radio for communications between patrol field units and the dispatcher in order to determine the location of a wrecked or disabled vehicle for the purpose of driving by the scene of such vehicle in a manner described in paragraph (b) or paragraph (c). Any person who violates this paragraph is guilty of a noncriminal violation, punishable as provided in s. 775.083.
(b) It is unlawful for an unauthorized wrecker operator to drive by the scene of a wrecked or disabled vehicle before the arrival of the authorized wrecker operator, initiate contact with the owner or operator of such vehicle by soliciting or offering towing services, and tow such vehicle. Any person who violates this paragraph is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(c) When an unauthorized wrecker operator drives by the scene of a wrecked or disabled vehicle and the owner or operator initiates contact by signaling the wrecker operator to stop and provide towing services, the unauthorized wrecker operator must disclose to the owner or operator of the vehicle that he or she is not an authorized wrecker operator who has been designated as part of the wrecker operator system and must disclose, in writing, what charges for towing and storage will apply before the vehicle is connected to the towing apparatus. Any person who violates this paragraph is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(d) At the scene of a wrecked or disabled vehicle, it is unlawful for a wrecker operator to falsely identify himself or herself as being part of the wrecker operator system. Any person who violates this paragraph is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(4) This section does not prohibit, or in any way prevent, the owner or operator of a vehicle involved in a crash or otherwise disabled from contacting any wrecker operator for the provision of towing services, whether the wrecker operator is an authorized wrecker operator or not.
History.--s. 1, ch. 80-402; s. 6, ch. 90-283; s. 9, ch. 98-324; s. 277, ch. 99-248.