Tow Truck Operators Exercise Civil Disobedience In Grand Forks
Two tow truck companies in Grand Forks refused to apply for licenses complaining that on the application for the licenses they must give local police a blank check to come in and inspect their facilities any time they wish.
A provision that pretty clearly runs foul of the 4th amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure:
After two towing companies refused to become licensed by the city of Grand Forks, a City Council committee on Tuesday agreed to change the license application.
Randy Hjelmstad, the owner of Randy’s Lock Key and Towing, and Stuart Pinske, the owner of Stuart’s Towing and Repair, told police they refused to become licensed because of a paragraph of the application that allows police to inspect their vehicle-storage facilities at anytime.
Police Sgt. Dwight Love told the council’s Service/Safety Committee that the two believe the paragraph violates their constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure.
Not having a license means the companies cannot legally tow vehicles within Grand Forks city limits.
I’m not entirely certainly why a tow truck company’s ability to operate should hinge on a license from the city in the first place, but setting that aside, making blank-check access by law enforcement to your private property a condition for doing business is certainly unreasonable.
I haven’t followed this issue, but according to the article the city began licensing tow truck operators four years ago after citizens complained that the companies were “charging more than city law allowed.” Which, frankly, also sounds like a bad deal. A city law setting the prices a business can charge?
This entire situation seems like a good argument against occupational licensing. Far from ensuring higher standards from businesses and professionals, this sort of licensing is usually used as a barrier to protect existing companies and (as we see in this case) an open door for excessive government control.Tags: 4th amendment, North Dakota News, privacy, search and seizure