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321.89 Abandoned vehicles.

1. Definitions. As used in this section and sections 321.90 and 321.91 unless the context otherwise requires:

a. "Police authority" means the Iowa highway safety patrol, any law enforcement agency of a county or city or any special security officer employed by the state board of regents under section 262.13.

b. "Abandoned vehicle" means any of the following:

(1) A vehicle that has been left unattended on public property for more than forty-eight hours and lacks current registration plates or two or more wheels or other parts which renders the vehicle totally inoperable, or

(2) A vehicle that has remained illegally on public property for more than seventy-two hours, or

(3) A vehicle that has been unlawfully parked on private property or has been placed on private property without the consent of the owner or person in control of the property for more than twenty-four hours, or

(4) A vehicle that has been legally impounded by order of a police authority and has not been reclaimed for a period of ten days, or

(5) Any vehicle parked on the highway determined by a police authority to create a hazard to other vehicle traffic.

However, a vehicle shall not be considered abandoned for a period of five days if its owner or operator is unable to move the vehicle and notifies the police authority responsible for the geographical location of the vehicle and requests assistance in the removal of the vehicle.

c. "Demolisher" means any city or public agency organized for the disposal of solid waste, or any person whose business it is to convert a vehicle to junk, processed scrap or scrap metal, or otherwise to wreck, or dismantle vehicles.

2. Authority to take possession of abandoned vehicles. A police authority may, and on the request of any other authority having the duties of control of highways or traffic, shall take into custody any abandoned vehicle on public property and may take into custody any abandoned vehicle on private property. A police authority taking into custody an abandoned vehicle determined to create a traffic hazard shall report the reasons constituting the hazard in writing to the appropriate authority having duties of control of the highway. The police authority may employ its own personnel, equipment and facilities or hire other personnel, equipment and facilities for the purpose of removing, preserving, storing, or disposing abandoned vehicles.

3. Notification of owner, lienholders, and other claimants.

a. A police authority which takes into custody an abandoned vehicle shall notify, within twenty days, by certified mail, the last known registered owner of the vehicle, all lienholders of record, and any other known claimant to the vehicle or to personal property found in the vehicle, addressed to their last known addresses of record, that the abandoned vehicle has been taken into custody. Notice shall be deemed given when mailed. The notice shall describe the year, make, model, and serial number of the vehicle, describe the personal property found in the vehicle, set forth the location of the facility where the vehicle is being held, and inform the persons receiving the notice of their right to reclaim the vehicle and personal property within twenty-one days after the effective date of the notice upon payment of all towing, preservation, and storage charges resulting from placing the vehicle in custody and upon payment of the costs of notice required pursuant to this subsection. The notice shall also state that the failure of the owner or lienholders to exercise their right to reclaim the vehicle within the time provided shall be deemed a waiver by the owner and all lienholders of all right, title, claim and interest in the vehicle and that failure to reclaim the vehicle is deemed consent to the sale of the vehicle at a public auction or disposal of the vehicle to a demolisher. The notice shall state that any person claiming rightful possession of the vehicle or personal property who disputes the planned disposition of the vehicle or property by the police authority or of the assessment of fees and charges provided by this section may ask for an evidentiary hearing before the police authority to contest those matters. If the persons receiving the notice do not ask for a hearing or exercise their right to reclaim the vehicle within the twenty-one-day reclaiming period, the owner and lienholders shall no longer have any right, title, claim, or interest in or to the vehicle. No court in any case in law or equity shall recognize any right, title, claim, or interest of the owner and lienholders after the expiration of the twenty-one-day reclaiming period.

b. If the identity of the last registered owner cannot be determined, or if the registration contains no address for the owner, or if it is impossible to determine with reasonable certainty the identity and addresses of all lienholders, notice by one publication in one newspaper of general circulation in the area where the vehicle was abandoned shall be sufficient to meet all requirements of notice under this section. The published notice may contain multiple listings of abandoned vehicles but shall be published within the same time requirements and contain the same information as prescribed for mailed notice in subsection 3, paragraph "a" of this section.

c. The owner or any lienholders may, by written request delivered to the police authority prior to the expiration of the twenty-one-day reclaiming period, obtain an additional fourteen days within which the vehicle may be reclaimed.

4. Auction of abandoned vehicles. If an abandoned vehicle has not been reclaimed as provided for in subsection 3, the police authority shall make a determination as to whether or not the vehicle shall be sold for use upon the highways. If the vehicle is not sold for use upon the highways, it shall be sold for junk, or demolished and sold as scrap. The police authority shall sell the vehicle at public auction. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, any police authority, which has taken into possession any abandoned vehicle which lacks an engine or two or more wheels or another part which renders the vehicle totally inoperable may dispose of the vehicle to a demolisher for junk after complying with the notification procedures enumerated in subsection 3 and without public auction. The purchaser of the vehicle takes title free and clear of all liens and claims of ownership, shall receive a sales receipt from the police authority, and is entitled to register the vehicle and receive a certificate of title if sold for use upon the highways. However, if the vehicle is sold or disposed of to a demolisher for junk, the sales receipt by itself is sufficient title only for purposes of transferring the vehicle to the demolisher for demolition, wrecking, or dismantling and, when so transferred, no further titling of the vehicle is permitted. From the proceeds of the sale of an abandoned vehicle the police authority shall reimburse itself for the expenses of the auction, the costs of towing, preserving, and storing which resulted from placing the abandoned vehicle in custody, all notice and publication costs incurred pursuant to subsection 3, the cost of inspection, and any other costs incurred except costs of bookkeeping and other administrative costs. Any remainder from the proceeds of a sale shall be held for the owner of the vehicle or entitled lienholder for ninety days, and shall then be deposited in the road use tax fund. The costs to police authorities of auction, towing, preserving, storage, and all notice and publication costs, and all other costs which result from placing abandoned vehicles in custody, whenever the proceeds from a sale of the abandoned vehicles are insufficient to meet these expenses and costs, shall be paid from the road use tax fund.

The director of transportation shall establish by rule a claims procedure to be followed by police authorities in obtaining expenses and costs from the fund.

Section History: Early form

[C73, 75, 77, 79, 81, § 321.89]

Section History: Recent form

84 Acts, ch 1305, § 59; 85 Acts, ch 64, § 2; 87 Acts, ch 123, § 1; 88 Acts, ch 1158, § 66; 92 Acts, ch 1238, § 31

Internal References

Referred to in § 18.11, 80.39, 321.88, 321.90, 321.91, 555B.1

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