Vehicle Repair Fraud
In Florida, vehicle repair shops are required to abide by the terms of the Florida Motor Vehicle Repair Act. Unfortunately, many repair shop employees are unfairly accused of fraud by disgruntled customers, which can result in jail time and hefty fines, so if you are being investigated for vehicle repair fraud, it is crucial to speak with an experienced white collar crime attorney who can help explain your legal options.
The Florida Motor Vehicle Repair Act
Under Florida’s Motor Vehicle Repair Act, when a customer requests repair work on a vehicle that will cost more than $100, the shop must offer a written repair estimate that includes the estimated cost of repairs and deliver it to the customer before beginning the work. The written repair estimate must also include the following information:
- The name of the vehicle repair shop;
- The proposed date of completion;
- A description of the customer’s problem;
- The cost of repair, including any charge for shop supplies or for waste removal;
- How much it costs to make a repair price estimate;
- How the customer will pay;
- The contact information of another person who can authorize repair work on behalf of the customer;
- A statement describing what repair work is guaranteed and the mileage period for which the guarantee is effective; and
- The price for storing the vehicle after notification that the repair work has been completed, although repair shops are not permitted to charge the customer until three days have passed since the notification was issued.
Repair shops must also contact customers before exceeding the estimate by 10 percent or $10, whichever is greater, but not to exceed $50. If repairs exceed the estimate, the customer can cancel the repairs and the repair shop must reassemble the vehicle, unless it is unsafe to drive. However, the shop can still charge customers for the costs of teardown and reassembly as long as they were notified of those possible costs in the estimate.
This information does not need to be provided if the customer waives in writing the right to receive the estimate. Furthermore, if a customer leaves his or her car at the shop during hours when the shop is closed or if the customer allows another person to deliver the vehicle to the shop, there is an implied partial waiver of the estimate. However, once the cost estimated is finished, the customer must be notified via telephone or mail of the cost of repair work.
Under the terms of the statute, a motor vehicle repair shop includes those who perform electronic diagnostic work on vehicles, but does not include independent contractors if:
- The independent contractor is located at a separate facility and is not engaged in vehicle repair; and
- The repair shop subcontracting the work remains responsible for the work performed.
Contact an Experienced White Collar Crime Attorney Today
If you are being investigated for vehicle repair fraud, please call Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys at 305-670-9919 today. Our Miami attorneys are eager to assist you immediately.