Columbus v. Ours Garage & Wrecker Service, Inc., 536 U.S. 424, 7 (2002)

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Opinion of the Court

if such transportation is performed without the prior consent or authorization of the owner or operator of the motor vehicle.

"(3) State standard transportation practices.—

"(A) Continuation.—[Section 14501(c)(1)] shall not affect any authority of a State, political subdivision of a State, or political authority of 2 or more States to enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision, with respect to the intrastate transportation of property by motor carriers, related to—[inter alia] uniform cargo liability rules . . . if such law, regulation, or provision meets [various enumerated] requirements." 49 U. S. C. 14501(c).

Tow trucks, all parties to this case agree, are "motor carrier[s] of property" falling within 14501(c)'s compass. This reading is corroborated by 14501(c)(2)(C), which relates to nonconsensual tows, e. g., of illegally parked or abandoned vehicles. That provision plainly indicates that tow trucks qualify as "motor carrier[s] of property"; it exempts from federal preemption state and local regulation of "the price of for-hire motor vehicle transportation by a tow truck" when the towing "is performed without the prior consent . . . of the [towed vehicle's] owner or operator."

Petitioner, the City of Columbus, Ohio (City), extensively regulates the operation of any tow truck that seeks to pick up vehicles within city limits. Columbus' regulations require tow-truck operators to obtain city licenses, submit to city inspections, meet city standards for insurance and recordkeeping, and conform their vehicles to the City's detailed equipment requirements. See Columbus, Ohio, City Code 549.02-549.06 (1991); App. to Pet. for Cert. 37a-52a.

Plaintiff-respondent Ours Garage and Wrecker Service, Inc., joined by a trade association of tow-truck operators, the Towing and Recovery Association of Ohio (TRAO), brought suit in Federal District Court against the City of Columbus

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