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H.44

Introduced by   Representatives Grad of Moretown, Gervais of Enosburg and Marek of Newfane

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Motor vehicles; state highways; interstate highways; town highways; towing; lien

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to:

(1)  Authorize the traffic committee to adopt rules providing for the removal of certain vehicles from limited access and other state highways.

(2)  Provide that the owner of a removed vehicle pay reasonable towing and storage charges for which a lien may be enforced.

(3)  Provide that a lien may be enforced to collect towing and storage charges when a vehicle is removed per order of a legislative body of a municipality.

AN ACT RELATING TO REMOVAL OF MOTOR VEHICLES FROM INTERSTATE, STATE, AND TOWN HIGHWAYS AND PROPERTY AND ENFORCEMENT OF LIENS TO COLLECT TOWING AND STORAGE CHARGES

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  23 V.S.A. § 1005a is added to read:

§ 1005a.  REMOVAL OF VEHICLES FROM LIMITED ACCESS

                HIGHWAYS; ENFORCEMENT OF LIENS

(a)  The traffic committee shall adopt rules pursuant to 3 V.S.A. chapter 25 providing for the removal of any motor vehicle parked without authorization on any state highway under its jurisdiction, including the national system of interstate and defense highways and other limited access and controlled access highways within this state.  The owner of the motor vehicle shall be required to pay reasonable towing and storage charges.

(b)(1)  A person who removes or stores a motor vehicle under this section shall have a lien on the motor vehicle for the reasonable towing and storage charges.  A lien in favor of the person who removes the vehicle shall remain in force if possession of the vehicle is transferred to another person for storage.

(2)  A lien created under this section shall continue in force for 90 days from the date of initial possession of the vehicle by the person who removes or stores it.

(3)(A)  A lien holder, owner, lessor, or secured party may bring an action to collect the debt, foreclose on the lien, or obtain a discharge of the lien and return of the vehicle.  The action shall be commenced within 90 days from the date of initial possession of the vehicle by the person who removes or stores it, and any person with an interest in the vehicle may appear as a party.

(B)  An action under this subsection may be brought in small claims court if the amount due at the time the action is commenced is within the small claims court’s jurisdictional amount.  The small claims court is authorized to enter judgment for additional sums that become due after the action is commenced, notwithstanding the court’s jurisdictional limit under section 5531 of Title 12.

(4)  No action shall be filed by a lien holder under this subsection unless the lien holder sends a demand letter by first class mail for the amount due no less than 30 days before the action is commenced to the registered owner or lessor and any secured party who appears on the vehicle’s title.

(5)(A)  If an action is commenced under this subsection, the lien shall remain in force until the court:

(i)  issues a final judgment or until the expiration of the period of redemption, whichever occurs later; or

(ii)  modifies or discharges the lien after notice and hearing to the lien holder, owner, or lessor and any secured party who appears on the vehicle’s title. 

(B)  If an action is not commenced under this subsection within 90 days from the date of initial possession of the vehicle by the person who removes or stores it, the lien shall be of no further force or effect.

(6)  The court, including the small claims court, may modify the lien or discharge the lien in full and restore possession to the owner or lessor or to any secured party who appears on the vehicle’s title if the party seeking possession gives a bond to the lien holder in such sums and with such sureties as the court directs, or gives other security approved by the court.  The bond or other security shall be conditioned upon payment by the party receiving possession of the damages, costs, and attorney’s fees which the lien holder may recover in the action.

(7)  If a lien holder obtains judgment in an action under this section, the lien holder shall recover reasonable attorney’s fees unless the court finds that the lien holder’s charges were not reasonable, in which event no attorney’s fees shall be recovered.

(8)  A final judgment in favor of the lien holder shall include a decree of foreclosure of all interests with a period of redemption of no less than 21 days and no more than 45 days after notice served pursuant to Rule 5 of the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure to the owner, lessor, and any secured party who appears on the vehicle’s title and has appeared in the action.  Foreclosure of the lien shall not be effective against any secured party appearing on the vehicle’s title unless the secured party has been served with notice of the foreclosure under this subdivision.

(c)  A lien provided for under this section shall not entitle the lien holder to retain possession of medications, medical equipment, or other items used to maintain health or assist with mobility.

Sec. 2.  23 V.S.A. § 1753 is amended to read:

§ 1753.  ORDINANCES AUTHORIZING REMOVAL

(a)  The selectmen of a town, the trustees of a village, or the board of aldermen of a city may enact ordinances authorizing the removal of motor vehicles parked without authorization on publicly or privately owned land and including, by illustration and not limitation, public, municipal, or private parking lots, drives, and ways.  The owner of the motor vehicle may shall be required to pay reasonable towing and storage charges, as determined by the legislative body of the municipality, for which a lien may be imposed against the motor vehicle and its owner, or both, which may be in addition to any criminal penalty.

(b)(1)  A person who removes or stores a motor vehicle under this section shall have a lien on the motor vehicle for the reasonable towing and storage charges.  A lien in favor of the person who removes the vehicle shall remain in force if possession of the vehicle is transferred to another person for storage.

(2)  A lien created under this section shall continue in force for 90 days from the date of initial possession of the vehicle by the person who removes or stores it.

(3)(A)  A lien holder, owner, lessor, or secured party may bring an action to collect the debt, foreclose on the lien, or obtain a discharge of the lien and return of the vehicle.  The action shall be commenced within 90 days from the date of initial possession of the vehicle by the person who removes or stores it, and any person with an interest in the vehicle may appear as a party.

(B)  An action under this subsection may be brought in small claims court if the amount due at the time the action is commenced is within the small claims court’s jurisdictional amount.  The small claims court is authorized to enter judgment for additional sums that become due after the action is commenced, notwithstanding the court’s jurisdictional limit under section 5531 of Title 12.    

(4)  No action shall be filed by a lien holder under this subsection unless the lien holder sends a demand letter by first class mail for the amount due no less than 30 days before the action is commenced to the registered owner or lessor and any secured party who appears on the vehicle’s title.

(5)(A)  If an action is commenced under this subsection, the lien shall remain in force until the court:

(i)  issues a final judgment or until the expiration of the period of redemption, whichever occurs later; or

(ii)  modifies or discharges the lien after notice and hearing to the lien holder, owner, or lessor and any secured party who appears on the vehicle’s title. 

(B)  If an action is not commenced under this subsection within 90 days from the date of initial possession of the vehicle by the person who removes or stores it, the lien shall be of no further force or effect.

(6)  The court, including the small claims court, may modify the lien or discharge the lien in full and restore possession to the owner or lessor or to any secured party who appears on the vehicle’s title, if the party seeking possession gives a bond to the lien holder in such sums and with such sureties as the court directs or gives other security approved by the court.  The bond or other security shall be conditioned upon payment by the party receiving possession of the damages, costs, and attorney’s fees which the lien holder may recover in the action.

(7)  If a lien holder obtains judgment in an action under this section, the lien holder shall recover reasonable attorney’s fees unless the court finds that the lien holder’s charges were not reasonable, in which event no attorney’s fees shall be recovered.

(8)  A final judgment in favor of the lien holder shall include a decree of foreclosure of all interests with a period of redemption of no less than 21 days and no more than 45 days after notice served pursuant to Rule 5 of the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure to the owner, lessor, and any secured party who appears on the vehicle’s title and has appeared in the action.  Foreclosure of the lien shall not be effective against any secured party appearing on the vehicle’s title unless the secured party has been served with notice of the foreclosure under this subdivision.

(c)  A lien provided for under this section shall not entitle the lien holder to retain possession of medications, medical equipment, or other items used to maintain health or assist with mobility.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us