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

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?
05/02/2009   |   Category: Abandoned Property   |   State: Idaho   |   #16521

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.

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