Can the gas station owner tow my son's vehicle for leaving it in the lot for 2 weeks?

05/02/2009 - Abandoned Property - State: ID #16521

Full Question:

My son left my vehicle in Idaho Falls, Idaho at a gas station. The station had the vehicle towed. I was never notified that the vehicle was abandoned and I had to pay 2 weeks of storage fees. Can I dispute those charges because I was not notified that the vehicle was abandoned?

Answer:

Please see the following Idaho statutes to determine applicability:

49-1806. Removal of unauthorized and abandoned vehicle from real property. —
(1) Any person having possession or control of real property who finds an unauthorized vehicle standing upon his property is permitted to have the vehicle removed if there is posted on or near the property in a clearly conspicuous location, in large print, a sign or notice that unauthorized vehicles will be removed at the owner's expense and designating the name of the towing firm. Unauthorized vehicles need not meet the provision of section 49-102(2), Idaho Code, in this instance.
(2) Any person having possession or control of real property who finds an abandoned vehicle standing on his property, where the property is not posted as set out in subsection (1) of this section, may contact an authorized officer, who must in turn comply with the provisions of section 49-1804, Idaho Code, in accomplishing the removal of the vehicle except under those circumstances set out in subsection (3) of this section.
(3) Where access into or out of private property or substantial interference with the use and enjoyment of private property is created by an unauthorized or abandoned vehicle being parked or otherwise left on private property, the person owning or controlling the property may contact an authorized officer who may, without regard for the provisions of section 49-1804, Idaho Code, immediately proceed to have the vehicle removed to a garage or nearest place of safety. All other provisions of this chapter shall be complied with.
49-1804. Removal of abandoned vehicles by authorized officer. —
Any authorized officer within the jurisdiction in which a vehicle is located, who has reasonable grounds to believe that the vehicle has been abandoned, may remove the vehicle from a highway or from public or private property to a garage or nearest place of safety.
Upon discovery of an abandoned vehicle which is not within the class of vehicles defined under "emergency circumstances," an authorized officer shall attach on the vehicle, in plain view, a notice that this vehicle will be towed away at the expiration of forty-eight (48) hours as an abandoned vehicle. The notice shall contain the name of the officer who prepared the notice; the name of the agency employing the officer; the time and date of attaching the notice; the time and date after which the vehicle will be removed; the telephone number and address of the agency where further information can be obtained. A reasonable attempt shall be made to notify by telephone the owner of any vehicle which has current license plates and registration as shown on the records of the department, prior to the expiration of the forty-eight (48) hour notice period, of the location of the vehicle and the time and date of intent to remove the vehicle. The inability of an officer to notify the owner shall not preclude the removal of the vehicle at the expiration of the forty-eight (48) hour period.
Any vehicle which does not have current or any license plate attached may be immediately removed to a safe place of storage.
49-1805. Post-storage hearing. —
(1) Whenever an authorized officer directs the towing or storage of a vehicle, except vehicles impounded for investigation pursuant to section 49-1803, Idaho Code, the agency directing or authorizing towing or storage shall provide the vehicle's registered and legal owners of record, or their agents, with the opportunity for a post-storage hearing to determine the validity of the storage.
(2) A notice of the storage shall be sent by certified mail to the registered and legal owners within forty-eight (48) hours, excluding the weekends and holidays, and shall include the following information:
(a) The name, address, and telephone number of the agency providing the notice;
(b) The location of the place of storage and description of the vehicle which shall include, if available, the name or make, identification number, the license plate number, and the mileage;
(c) The authority and purpose for the removal of the vehicle; and
(d) In order to receive a post-storage hearing, the owners, or their agents, must request the hearing in writing within ten (10) days of the date of the notice. Any such hearing shall be conducted within forty-eight (48) hours of the request, excluding weekends and holidays. The public agency may authorize its own officer or employee to conduct the hearing, so long as the hearing officer is not the same person who directed the storage of the vehicle.
(3) Failure of either the registered or legal owner, or his agent, to request or to attend a scheduled hearing shall satisfy the post-storage hearing requirement as to that person.
(4) The provisions of this section shall not apply to vehicles removed from private property pursuant to section 49-1806(1), Idaho Code.
(5) The agency employing the person who directed the storage shall be responsible for the costs incurred for towing and storage if it is determined in the hearing that probable cause for the storage cannot be established.
49-1810. Notification to owner of sale. —
(1) If the owner or a lien holder of record is known and can be located, a copy of the notice of sale shall be served on the owner and lien holder at least fifteen (15) days before the date of the sale. Service of the notice may be made by certified mail. Notice of the sale, in addition, shall be given by advertising the abandoned vehicle for sale at least twice in a daily newspaper of general circulation where the abandoned vehicle was found and is being held. The notice of sale shall:
(a) Describe the abandoned vehicle by giving a description of the vehicle, name or make, model, year, manufacturer, license plate number (if available), mileage, serial number and any other distinguishing characteristics;
(b) Describe when and where the abandoned vehicle will be sold;
(c) State the names and addresses of the registered and legal owners (if known);
(d) State the amount of the lien and the facts concerning the claim which gave rise to the lien.
(2) Where the owner or lien holder is not known or cannot be located, notice of sale shall be given by advertising the abandoned vehicle for sale at least twice in a daily newspaper of general circulation where the abandoned vehicle was found and is being held. The notice shall contain the information required in subsection (1) of this section. If the owner is known but has not been located a notice of sale shall, in addition, be sent to him by registered or certified mail to the last known mailing address.
The following are portions of ID statute 49-102:
"Authorized officer" means any member of the Idaho state police, or any regularly employed and salaried deputy sheriff, or other county employee designated to perform the function of removing abandoned vehicles or junk vehicles by the board of county commissioners of the county in which a vehicle is located, or any regularly employed and salaried city peace officer or other city employee designated to perform the function of removing abandoned vehicles or junk vehicles by the city council, or a qualified person deputized or appointed by the proper authority as reserve deputy sheriff or city policeman, authorized within the jurisdiction in which the abandoned vehicle or junk vehicle is located.
(2) "Abandoned vehicle" means any vehicle observed by an authorized officer or reported by a member of the public to have been left within the limits of any highway or upon the property of another without the consent of the property owner for a period of twenty-four (24) hours or longer, except that a vehicle shall not be considered abandoned if its owner-operator is unable to remove it from the place where it is located and has notified a law enforcement agency and requested assistance.


05/02/2009 - Category: Abandoned Property - State: ID #16521

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