290-11 Vehicles left unattended on private and public property; sale or disposition of abandoned vehicles. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, any vehicle left unattended on private or public property without authorization of the owner or occupant of the property, may be towed away at the expense of the owner of the vehicle, by order of the owner, occupant, or person in charge of the property; provided that there is posted a notice prohibiting vehicles to park on the property without authorization. The notice shall state that the vehicle will be towed and held at the expense of the vehicle owner, as well as the name, address, and a telephone number of the facility where the vehicle will be towed and held. The notice shall be of such size and be placed in a location that is clearly visible to the driver of a vehicle approaching any individual marked or unmarked parking space; provided that where an entire parking lot consists of restricted parking spaces, placement of the notice at each entrance of the parking lot shall suffice.

(b) Towing companies engaged by the owner, occupant, or person in charge of the property shall:

(1) Charge not more than $65 for a tow, or $75 for a tow using a dolly, plus a mileage charge of $7.50 per mile towed and $25 per day or fraction thereof for storage for the first seven days and $20 per day thereafter. When the tow occurs between the hours of six o'clock p.m. and six o'clock a.m., from Monday through Thursday and from six o'clock p.m. Friday to six o'clock a.m. Monday, the towing company shall be entitled to an overtime charge of $15. If the vehicle is in the process of being hooked up or is hooked up to the tow truck and the owner appears on the scene, the towing company shall unhook the vehicle and shall not charge any fee to the owner of the vehicle. In the case of a difficult hookup, meaning an above or below ground hookup in a multilevel facility, a towing surcharge of $30 shall be applicable;

(2) Determine the name of the legal owner and the registered owner of the vehicle from the department of transportation or the county department of finance. The legal owner and the registered owner shall be notified in writing at the address on record with the department of transportation or with the county department of finance by registered or certified mail of the location of the vehicle, together with a description of the vehicle, within a reasonable period not to exceed fifteen days following the tow. The notice shall state:

(A) The maximum towing charges and fees allowed by law;

(B) The telephone number of the consumer information service of the department of commerce and consumer affairs; and

(C) That if the vehicle is not recovered within thirty days after the mailing of the notice, the vehicle shall be deemed abandoned and will be sold or disposed of as junk.

Where the owners have not been so notified, then the owner may recover the owner's car from the towing company without paying tow or storage fees; provided that the notice need not be sent to a legal or registered owner or any person with an unrecorded interest in the vehicle whose name or address cannot be determined. Absent evidence to the contrary, a notice shall be deemed received by the legal or registered owner five days after the mailing. A person, including but not limited to the owner's or driver's insurer, who has been charged in excess of the charges permitted under this section may sue for damages sustained and, if the judgment is for the plaintiff, the court shall award the plaintiff a sum not to exceed the amount of the damages and reasonable attorney's fees together with the cost of suit;

(3) Provide, when a vehicle is recovered by the owner before written notice is sent by registered or certified mail, the owner with a receipt stating:

(A) The maximum towing charges and fees allowed by law; and

(B) The telephone number of the consumer information service of the department of commerce and consumer affairs; and

(4) Accommodate payment by the owner for charges under paragraph (1) by cash and by either credit card or automated teller machine located on the premises.

(c) When a vehicle is not recovered within thirty days after the mailing of the notice, it shall be deemed abandoned and the owner of the towing company, or the owner of the towing company's authorized representative, after one public advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation in the State, may negotiate a sale of the vehicle or dispose of it as junk.

(d) The authorized seller of the vehicle shall be entitled to the proceeds of the sale to the extent that compensation is due the authorized seller for services rendered in respect to the vehicle, including reasonable and customary charges for towing, handling, storage, and the cost of the notices and advertising required by this part. Any remaining balance shall be forwarded to the legal or registered owner of the vehicle if the legal or registered owner can be found. If the legal or registered owner cannot be found, the balance shall be deposited with the director of finance of the State and shall be paid out to the legal or registered owner of the vehicle if a proper claim is filed therefor within one year from the execution of the sales agreement. If no claim is made within the year allowed, the money shall become a state realization.

(e) The transfer of title and interest by sale under this part is a transfer by operation of law; provided that if the certificate of ownership or registration is unavailable, a bill of sale executed by an authorized seller is satisfactory evidence authorizing the transfer of the title or interest.

(f) Notwithstanding any law or ordinance to the contrary, including subsection (g), and section 46-20.5, any towing company engaged in towing in a county with a population greater than five hundred thousand shall offer towing services to consumers twenty-four hours per day every day of the week, which services shall include the release of vehicles kept in storage to a registered owner, legal owner, insurer, or a designated representative.

(g) This section shall not apply to a county that has adopted ordinances regulating towing operations. [L 1973, c 148, pt of 1; am L 1976, c 91, 1; am L 1977, c 122, 1; am L 1980, c 172, 1 and c 232, 14; am L 1981, c 82, 20 and c 96, 1; am L 1985, c 180, 1; gen ch 1985; am L 1990, c 165, 2; am L 1991, c 65, 3 and c 144, 1; am L 1992, c 224, 1; am L 1998, c 138, 1, 3; am L 1999, c 259, 1, 3; am L 2000, c 260, 2; am L 2001, c 7, 2; am L 2002, c 59, 1; am L 2003, c 84, 3; am L 2007, c 269, 3; am L 2008, c 135, 1; am L 2010, c 122, 2]

 

Cross References

 

Driver education assessments, see 286G-3.

 

 

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