The St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department will begin issuing licenses and performing background checks on tow truck drivers. A measure approved by the St. Charles County Council March 26 allows the county to continue checking backgrounds of tow truck drivers.
Previously, the county Registrar’s office issued the license and did the background checks.
However, Roger Morgan, owner of Assured Towing in Wentzville, successfully sued St. Charles County by asserting that only law enforcement officials could perform background checks.
After the March 26 meeting, Morgan argued that the judge in his case ruled the county could not use a closed court record to deny his license.
A judgment in the case reads:
“St. Charles County and (Registrar office manager) Ruth Miller are restrained and restricted from using plaintiff Roger Morgan’s closed criminal record as a basis for denying plaintiffs a license to operate a tow truck (in) St. Charles County.”
“I got my record closed,” Morgan said. “That’s supposed to protect me.”
However, Assistant County Counselor Harold Ellis said that judgment was based upon the county’s Registrar office doing background checks.
“Now, the law has been amended to transfer those duties to the Sheriff’s Department,” Ellis said. “State law allows law enforcement agencies to do background checks.”
Councilman Joe Brazil, R-District 2, said he felt it was important to continue the background checks.
“Would you want your 17-year-old daughter to break down on a deserted road and call for a tow truck and then have the driver be some kind of scumbag?” Brazil said.
He said the Sheriff’s Department and Registrar’s office both requested that the law be changed.
A person could have a tow truck license denied if they are convicted of:
- Theft, possession of stolen property or interstate transportation of stolen vehicles
- Crimes against people, including assaults
- Any felony
The convictions include closed court cases or suspended imposition of sentences.
Brazil said the theft provision was included to exclude car thieves.
“We don’t want a tow truck driver going around stealing cars,” he said.
Tow truck owners object
Tow truck business operators at the March 26 meeting didn’t like not being consulted or informed about the new law. They addressed the council during an open forum at the Monday meeting.
“Anytime you take a position that will affect a person’s livelihood, let them know about it,” Rodney Sherman, owner of Budget Towing in Wentzville, told the county council during an open forum. “Contact somebody in the industry.”
After the March 26 meeting, Sherman said, “There’s no other county in Missouri that goes through the rigid license process that this county goes through.”
Brazil said Sherman also has run afoul of the law.
Boyd Burleson, owner of Boyd’s Interstate Towing in Wentzville, said the county shouldn’t punish people for crimes after they’ve already paid for them.
“If a guy did something stupid when he was 19-, 20- or 21-years-old, and now he’s 35 with a wife and a kid, why should he have to pay for that 14 years later?”
Burleson also was irked that the county didn’t notify tow truck business owners.
“When the Sheriff’s Department calls me to come tow a car to clear a road, it doesn’t cost them a dime,” Burleson said. “But they can’t call me to tell me about a new law that affects my business?”