Can You Use AAA for Towing?

(WSVN) - She had a minor accident and wanted to use a tow service she already pays for, but police told her she had to pay for a company the city wanted her to use. Plus, can you pay to get the COVID vaccine quicker than other people? Those answers and more in tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

If you are going to drive, odds are things will happen, like your car won’t crank or you will get in a fender bender. Either way, Ileana was prepared.

Ileana Jimenez, Hialeah towing problem: “Well, we have AAA for instances if we ever get into an accident, so it’s something that I always tend to have for emergencies.”

And she had one when her son was in an accident in Hialeah. He was fine, but the car needed to be towed.

Ileana Jimenez: “Well, I called AAA, and they were already routed out to the scene because he told me where he was at.”

But the Hialeah Police officer said, “Nope, you can’t use the tow company you want.”

Ileana Jimenez: “‘Cancel your call.’ They didn’t allow me, you know, to have my tow truck there or to push the car over.”

Ileana told the officer thanks, but she wanted to use AAA because it would be free. Then, she found out that’s not the way it works in Hialeah.

Ileana Jimenez: “They just said that they just had to follow regulations, and that’s what they’re told to do, that they have to use the towing company provided by the city.”

When the tow truck driver contracted by Hialeah showed up, Ileana asked them to take the car to her house which was two miles away.

“Nope,” the driver said. “We are taking you to our tow lot and will charge storage fees plus the towing fee.”

Ileana Jimenez: “$220 for 24 hours, that’s what I was charged.”

What would have been a free AAA tow was $220 from the towing company Hialeah chose.

Ileana Jimenez: “It made me upset, and it made me angry.”

Can Hialeah force you to use their tow company and block you from using the one you want, Howard?

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “Most cities have contracts with tow companies to remove a vehicle, but they allow you to call your own tow company if you want. In my opinion, what happened to Ileana in Hialeah was illegal because the officer stopped her from letting AAA come tow her car.”

Questions about the coronavirus vaccine are now coming in. Can you get on the list to get the vaccine right away?

Howard Finkelstein: “No, you cannot move ahead of others to get the vaccine. You cannot pay to get on a list to get the vaccine early. You have to wait. If someone calls you and offers to get you the vaccine for a price, it’s a scam. One more thing: when you do get the vaccine, you will get a card to confirm you got your shots.”

Because of COVID, his homeowner’s association is only having meetings online, and he does not have a computer. He wants to know if it’s legal since he can’t watch the meetings.

Howard Finkelstein: “Yes, by law, they can do the meeting online, but if you don’t have a computer, you can call in on your phone to at least hear the meeting.”

She was exposed to COVID at work, and her boss says she has to quarantine for two weeks and won’t get paid. Is a business required to pay her?

Howard Finkelstein: “Yes, in most cases, an employer is required to pay you for up to 10 days if you are required to stay home. If they refuse to pay, file a complaint with the labor department.”

Ileana Jimenez: “I’m sure I’m not the only victim out there.”

Neither the Hialeah mayor, the police or the towing company would talk to us at all, but Ileana says after she went on social media, she discovered she is not alone.

Ileana Jimenez: “And I got a lot of different responses from people that the same thing has happened to them and with a lot higher fees.”

Now, in some cases, AAA will reimburse the car owner for the towing charge. Ileana is going to try that.

And if the police tell you you cannot use your tow company, explain you have the right to but don’t resist. You can’t win when they have the gun and the badge.

Feel like a wreck? Need to haul the problem away? Hook up with us, so you can keep on truckin’.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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