Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 46.2. Motor Vehicles
Chapter 12. Abandoned, Immobilized, Unattended and Trespassing Vehicles; Parking
11/29/2022

Article 1. Abandoned Vehicles.

§ 46.2-1200. Definitions.

As used in this article:

"Abandoned motor vehicle" means a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer that:

1. Weighs at least 75 pounds; and

2. (i) Is left unattended on public property for more than 48 hours in violation of a state law or local ordinance;

(ii) has remained for more than 48 hours on private property without the consent of the property's owner, regardless of whether it was brought onto the private property with the consent of the owner or person in control of the private property; or

(iii) is left unattended on the shoulder of a primary highway.

"Scrap metal processor" means any person who is engaged in the business of processing motor vehicles into scrap for remelting purposes who, from a fixed location, utilizes machinery and equipment for processing and manufacturing ferrous and nonferrous metallic scrap into prepared grades, and whose principal product is metallic scrap.

"Vehicle removal certificate" means a transferable document issued by the Department for any abandoned motor vehicle that authorizes the removal and destruction of the vehicle.

1968, c. 421, § 46.1-555.1; 1978, c. 348; 1989, c. 727; 1997, c. 431; 2009, c. 664; 2011, cc. 487, 824; 2020, c. 977.

§ 46.2-1200.1. Abandoning motor vehicles prohibited; penalty.

No person shall cause any motor vehicle to become an abandoned motor vehicle as defined in § 46.2-1200. In any prosecution for a violation of this section, proof that the defendant was, at the time that the vehicle was found abandoned, the owner of the vehicle shall constitute in evidence a rebuttable presumption that the owner was the person who committed the violation. Such presumption, however, shall not arise if the owner of the vehicle provided notice to the Department, as provided in § 46.2-604, that he had sold or otherwise transferred the ownership of the vehicle.

A summons for a violation of this section shall be executed by mailing a copy of the summons by first-class mail to the address of the owner of the vehicle as shown on the records of the Department of Motor Vehicles. If the person fails to appear on the date of return set out in the summons, a new summons shall be issued and delivered to the sheriff of the county, city, or town for service on the accused personally. If the person so served then fails to appear on the date of return set out in the summons, proceedings for contempt shall be instituted.

Any person convicted of a violation of this section shall be subject to a civil penalty of no more than $500.

All penalties collected under this section shall be paid into the state treasury to be credited to the Literary Fund as provided in § 46.2-114.

1990, c. 725; 2020, cc. 964, 965.

§ 46.2-1200.2. Vehicles registered to active duty military personnel.

Whenever a vehicle is shown by the Department records to be owned by a person who has indicated that he is on active military duty or service, the Department shall include such information in response to requests for vehicle information pursuant to the requirements of this chapter.

Notwithstanding any provisions of this chapter, any person disposing of a vehicle under the provisions of this chapter shall determine whether the provisions of the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. § 3901 et seq.) (the Act) apply to the circumstances of such disposition. The presence on a vehicle record of an indicator that the owner is on active military duty or service shall be an indication that the Act may apply. However, should the person determine that the Act applies, the indicator on the vehicle record shall not satisfy any obligation under the Act to ascertain the owner's military status, nor shall the absence of an indicator suffice to establish that the owner is not on active military duty or service.

2008, c. 171; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 374.

§ 46.2-1200.3. Limitation on removal and sale of abandoned vehicles.

No person may remove or sell any abandoned vehicle left on public property or the shoulder of a primary highway unless such person is acting pursuant to an agreement for such removal or sale with a local government entity or law-enforcement agency and has actual possession of the vehicle.

2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 374.

§ 46.2-1201. Ordinances.

The governing body of any county, city, or town may provide by ordinance for taking abandoned vehicles into custody and disposing of them in accordance with this article.

Any county, city, or town may take any abandoned motor vehicle into custody. The locality may employ its own personnel, equipment, and facilities or hire persons, equipment, and facilities, or firms or corporations that may be independent contractors for removing, preserving, storing, and selling at public auction abandoned motor vehicles.

1968, c. 421, §§ 46.1-555.2, 46.1-555.3; 1989, c. 727; 1997, c. 150.

§ 46.2-1202. Search for owner and secured party; notice.

A. Any person in possession of an abandoned vehicle shall initiate with the Department, in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner, a search for the owner and/or lienholder of record of the vehicle, requesting the name and address of the owner of record of the vehicle and all persons having security interests in the vehicle on record in the office of the Department, describing, if ascertainable, the vehicle by year, make, model, and vehicle identification number. A fee of $40 shall be paid to the Department at the time of application. Those fees shall be paid into the state treasury and set aside as a special, nonreverting fund to be used to meet the expenses of the Department. A local government agency with a written agreement with the Department shall be exempt from this fee.

The Department shall check (i) its own records, (ii) the records of a nationally recognized crime database, and (iii) records of a nationally recognized vehicle title database for owner and lienholder information. If a vehicle has been reported as stolen, the Department shall notify the appropriate law-enforcement agency of that fact. If a vehicle has been found to have been titled in another jurisdiction, the Department shall contact that jurisdiction to ascertain the requested information.

B. If the Department confirms owner or lienholder information, either through a search of its own records or those of another jurisdiction, the Department shall notify the owner, at the last known address of record, and lienholder, at the last known address of record, of the notice of interest in their vehicle, by certified mail, return receipt requested, and advise them to reclaim and remove the vehicle within 15 days, or, if the vehicle is a manufactured home or a mobile home, 120 days, from the date of notice. Such notice, when sent in accordance with these requirements, shall be sufficient regardless of whether or not it was ever received. Following the notice required in this subsection, if the vehicle remains unclaimed, the owner and all persons having security interests in the vehicle shall have waived all right, title, and interest in the vehicle.

C. If records of the Department contain no address for the owner or no address of any person shown by the Department's records to have a security interest, or if the identity and addresses of the owner and all persons having security interests cannot be determined with reasonable certainty after the Department has contacted the jurisdiction in which the vehicle was last titled, the person in possession of the abandoned vehicle may proceed with the sale or disposal of the vehicle in accordance with this chapter. However, if a vehicle record exists in another jurisdiction that has refused to release the information to the Department, the person in possession of the abandoned vehicle shall assume all liability for proceeding with such sale or disposal without written notice to the owner or lienholder of record.

D. The Department shall provide to the person in possession of the abandoned vehicle a receipt indicating that the search requested pursuant to this section has been completed.

E. Residents or businesses of other jurisdictions in possession of vehicles titled in the Commonwealth, or the authorized agents of such residents or businesses, seeking to enforce laws in those jurisdictions that are substantially similar to the provisions of this article or Article 2 (§ 46.2-1209 et seq.) may request information for such vehicles from the Department. The Department shall conduct the information search as provided for in subsection A, provide the names and addresses of the owner and lienholder, if any, for each vehicle to the requester, and notify the named owner and lienholder, if any, by certified mail, return receipt requested, of the request. Such notification shall not replace any notification requirements imposed by the jurisdiction in which the requester and subject vehicle are located, nor shall the enforcement rules of this chapter apply to vehicles not located within the Commonwealth. If the Department finds that the vehicle is titled in another jurisdiction, the Department shall identify that jurisdiction to the requester with no further obligation to the requester or vehicle owner. The Department shall collect a $25 fee for this search.

1968, c. 421, § 46.1-555.4; 1989, c. 727; 1997, c. 150; 2009, c. 664; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 374.

§ 46.2-1202.1. Vehicle Removal Certificates.

The person in possession of an abandoned vehicle shall obtain from the Department in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner, a Vehicle Removal Certificate at no fee. If the Department finds no record for the vehicle, the vehicle may then be sold or transferred to a licensee or a scrap metal processor, as defined in § 46.2-1600. Upon such sale or transfer, the completed Vehicle Removal Certificate and receipt produced pursuant to § 46.2-1202 shall be given to the licensee or scrap metal processor.

2009, c. 664; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 374.

§ 46.2-1202.2. Notice of intent to auction and sale of vehicle; posting requirements.

If the person in possession of an abandoned vehicle does not intend to sell or transfer the vehicle to a licensee, as defined in § 46.2-1600, or a scrap metal processor and the abandoned vehicle is not reclaimed as provided for in § 46.2-1202, the person in possession of an abandoned vehicle shall post notice for at least 21 days of his intent to auction the vehicle. Postings of intent shall be in an electronic manner prescribed by the Commissioner and shall include the vehicle identification number and a description of each vehicle to be sold.

After the posting period has passed, and notwithstanding the provisions of § 46.2-617, the vehicle may be sold at auction. A purchaser of the vehicle at auction may apply for a title for such vehicle upon payment of the applicable fees and taxes, and by supplying the Department with the completed Vehicle Removal Certificate and the receipt produced pursuant to § 46.2-1202.

If the vehicle does not sell at auction, the person in possession of the abandoned vehicle may apply for a title for such vehicle upon payment of the applicable fees and taxes, and by supplying the Department with the completed Vehicle Removal Certificate, the receipt produced pursuant to § 46.2-1202, and a written statement that the vehicle did not sell at auction.

2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 374.

§ 46.2-1203. Sale of vehicle at public auction by locality; disposition of proceeds.

If an abandoned vehicle in the possession of a locality or an authorized agent is not reclaimed as provided for in § 46.2-1202, the locality or its authorized agent shall, notwithstanding the provisions of § 46.2-617, sell it at public auction. For the purposes of this article, "public auction," when conducted by any county, city, or town, shall include an Internet sale by auction. The purchaser of the vehicle shall take title to the vehicle free of all liens and claims of ownership of others, shall receive a sales receipt from the sale, and shall be entitled to apply to and receive from the Department a certificate of title and registration card for the vehicle upon submission of the sales receipt, the completed Vehicle Removal Certificate, and the receipt produced by the Department pursuant to § 46.2-1202. The sales receipt from the sale shall be sufficient title only for purposes of transferring the vehicle to a demolisher for demolition, wrecking, or dismantling, and in that case no further titling of the vehicle shall be necessary; however, such demolisher shall provide the Department acceptable documentation indicating that the vehicle has been demolished. From the proceeds of the sale of an abandoned vehicle the locality or its authorized agent shall reimburse itself for the expenses of the auction, the cost of towing, preserving, and storing the vehicle which resulted from placing the abandoned vehicle in custody, and all costs, if any, incurred pursuant to § 46.2-1202. Any remainder from the proceeds of a sale shall be held for the owner of the abandoned vehicle or any person having security interests in the vehicle, as their interests may appear, for 60 days, and then be deposited into the treasury of the locality in which the abandoned vehicle was abandoned.

1968, c. 421, § 46.1-555.5; 1989, c. 727; 2004, c. 369; 2013, c. 241; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 374.

§ 46.2-1204. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2009, c. 664, cl. 2, effective October 1, 2009.

§ 46.2-1205. Disposition of inoperable abandoned vehicles.

A. For the purposes of this section, "demolisher" has the meaning ascribed to it in § 46.2-1600.

B. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this article, any inoperable motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, or part of a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer which has been taken into custody pursuant to other provisions of this article may be disposed of to a demolisher, without the title and without the notification procedures, by the person or locality on whose property or in whose possession the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer is found. Such demolisher shall be properly licensed under the provisions of Chapter 16 (§ 46.2-1600 et seq.). The demolisher, on taking custody of the inoperable abandoned motor vehicle, shall notify the Department on forms and in the manner prescribed by the Commissioner. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no other report or notice shall be required in this instance.

1968, c. 421, § 46.1-555.7; 1972, c. 375; 1974, c. 454; 1989, c. 727; 2014, c. 58.

§ 46.2-1206. Surrender of certificate of title, etc., where motor vehicle acquired for demolition; records to be kept by demolisher or scrap metal processor.

No demolisher or scrap metal processor who purchases or otherwise acquires a motor vehicle for wrecking, dismantling, or demolition shall be required to obtain a certificate of title for the motor vehicle in his own name. After the motor vehicle has been demolished, processed, or changed so that it physically is no longer a motor vehicle, the demolisher or scrap metal processor shall surrender to the Department for cancellation the certificate of title, Vehicle Removal Certificate, properly executed vehicle disposition history, or sales receipt from a foreign jurisdiction for the vehicle. The Department shall issue the appropriate forms for the surrender of sales receipts, certificates of title, vehicle disposition histories, and vehicle removal certificates.

Demolishers and scrap metal processors shall keep accurate and complete records, in accordance with § 46.2-1608, of all motor vehicles purchased or received by them in the course of their business. Demolishers and scrap metal processors shall also collect and verify:

1. The towing company's name;

2. One of the ownership or possession documents set out in this section following verification of its accuracy;

3. The driver's license of the person delivering the motor vehicle; and

4. The license plate number of the vehicle that delivered the motor vehicle or scrap.

In addition, a photocopy or electronic copy of the appropriate ownership document or a Vehicle Removal Certificate presented by the customer shall be maintained. Ownership documents shall consist of either a motor vehicle title or a sales receipt from a foreign jurisdiction or a vehicle disposition history. These records shall be maintained in a permanent ledger in a manner acceptable to the Department at the place of business or at another readily accessible and secure location within the Commonwealth for at least five years. The personal identifying information contained within these records shall be protected from unauthorized disclosure through the ultimate destruction of the information. Disclosure of personal identifying information by anyone other than the Department is subject to the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (18 U.S.C. § 2721 et seq.).

If requested by a law-enforcement officer, a licensee shall make available, during regular business hours, a report of all the purchases of motor vehicles. Each report shall include the information set out in this chapter and be available electronically or in an agreed-upon format. Any person who violates any provision of this chapter or who falsifies any of the information required to be maintained by this article shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor for the first offense. Any licensee or scrap metal processor who is found guilty of second or subsequent violations shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The Department shall also assess a civil penalty not to exceed $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for the second and subsequent offenses. Those penalties shall be paid into the state treasury and set aside as a special fund to be used to meet the expenses of the Department.

If the vehicle identification number has been altered, is missing, or appears to have been otherwise tampered with, the demolisher or scrap metal processor shall take no further action with regard to the vehicle except to safeguard it in its then-existing condition and shall promptly notify the Department. The Department shall, after an investigation has been made, notify the demolisher or scrap metal processor whether the motor vehicle can be freed from this limitation. In no event shall the motor vehicle be disassembled, demolished, processed, or otherwise modified or removed prior to authorization by the Department. If the vehicle is a motorcycle, the demolisher or scrap metal processor shall cause to be noted on the title or salvage certificate, certifying on the face of the document, in addition to the above requirements, the frame number of the motorcycle and motor number, if available.

1968, c. 421, § 46.1-555.8; 1989, c. 727; 2009, c. 664; 2012, cc. 803, 835.

§ 46.2-1207. Certification of disposal; reimbursement of locality by Commissioner.

On certification by a locality on forms provided by the Department that an inoperable abandoned motor vehicle left on property within the locality has been disposed of as provided in § 46.2-1205 or that an inoperable motor vehicle has been removed from the vehicle owner's property and disposed of by the locality or its authorized agent, the Commissioner shall reimburse the locality fifty dollars for each such motor vehicle disposed of at the expense of the locality. These reimbursements shall be made from appropriations made in the general appropriations act. In the event the appropriation is insufficient to satisfy requests for reimbursement, payments shall be made in chronological order on the basis of the date on which the requests were received. No payments, however, shall be made for requests received on any date until adequate funds are available to pay all requests received on that date. The Commissioner may promulgate regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of this section. These regulations shall include the requirement of the identification number or motor number of the vehicle for which reimbursement is applied, or an acceptable reason why that number is not furnished.

No reimbursement shall be made to any locality for vehicles which it acquires from sources outside its jurisdiction nor for vehicles it receives from dealers engaged in the business of dismantling used automobiles.

1974, c. 454, § 46.1-555.9; 1976, c. 196; 1986, cc. 10, 553; 1989, c. 727; 1990, c. 207; 2006, c. 603.

§ 46.2-1208. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2009, c. 664, cl. 2, effective October 1, 2009.